Home » Blog » Can Cardinals compete for NFC championship?

Can Cardinals compete for NFC championship?

One of the most polarizing teams entering the 2015 National Football League are the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona went 11-5 last season despite having to start three different quarterbacks including Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley. It was tough to watch when Lindley played, especially in the Wild Card loss against the Carolina Panthers.

Currently, Palmer looks healthy, but some of the supporting cast is not. After being signed in free agency, guard Mike Iupati injured his ankle and is out for at least the first four weeks of the regular season. In addition, nose tackle Corey Peters is out for the year, leaving Arizona thin on the defensive line. After watching the Cardinals play the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night, perhaps the biggest concern was right tackle. Rookie D.J. Humphries looks lost, while Bradley Sowell was a bastardization of the sport against Khalil Mack.

So, with talent but so many questions, are the Cardinals a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

On the positive side, head coach Bruce Arians is one of the best in the business. In some sports, coaching is vastly overrated. A manager in baseball can only do so much, while a hockey coach only has a few chances per game to draw up plays. In football, the head coach is second in importance only to his quarterback. It’s that simple.

If you judge Arizona by that combination, the duo of Arians and Palmer is formidable. Palmer is aging, but he still has a live arm and a bevy of receivers to hit in stride. The trio of John Brown, Michael Floyd and veteran Larry Fitzgerald will be one of the best receiving groups in the league, while running back Andre Ellington can also catch the back from the backfield.

The main question is the offensive line. Right tackle is a complete mess, while center has been a revolving door. The center spot is being fought for by A.Q. Shipley and Lyle Sendlein, and neither inspire much confidence. If Palmer gets injured again for a lengthy amount of time, the season is over.

On defense, Arizona is going through a transition after losing coordinator Todd Bowles when he became the head coach of the New York Jets. Still, the Cardinals have talent. Arizona has a shutdown corner in Patrick Peterson, although his ability might be negated some with Antonio Cromartie leaving. Teams will throw to the other side of the field, picking on Jerraud Powers. The pass-rush is the main concern, though. Outside o Alex Okafor, the front seven has no one with the ability to bend around the edge and get home.

Ultimately, the Cardinals are a dangerous team, but they are not going to the Super Bowl. Arizona doesn’t have the chops to shut down a team like the Green Bay Packers or block well enough to topple the Seattle Seahawks. The Cardinals should make the playoffs, but that won’t be a long stay.

  • 100%