qAfter a great start to the 2020 season, the Arizona Cardinals fell fall on their faces in the second half and missed out on the playoffs. Despite finishing the year with an 8-8 record, there’s still optimism around this Cardinals’ team and what they can do in Kyler Murray’s third-year under center. But there are some question marks in the secondary with Patrick Peterson taking his talents to Minnesota and surrounding head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who did not coach well enough in must-win spots last season.
8-8, 3rd in NFC West
Points: 22.9 points per game, rank 12th
Yards: 5.3 yards per play, rank 8th
Football Outsiders Ranking: 10th
Points: 25.6 points per game, rank 13th
Yards: 5.7 yards per play, rank 14th
Football Outsiders Ranking: 19th
2021 DraftKings Sportsbook odds
Super Bowl: +3300
AFC/NFC Champion: +2000
Win Total: 8 (Over -134, Under +110)
The Cardinals lost both cornerback Patrick Peterson and linebacker Haason Reddick in free agency, but added defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt was surprisingly cut by the Houston Texans after spending 10 years with them. The veteran defensive end signed a two-year, $31 million deal with Cardinals and should be a formidable duo with Chandler Jones. On offense, they signed running back James Conner after not re-signing Kenyan Drake and inked wide out A.J. Green to a one-year deal.
Finally, in the 2021 NFL Draft, Arizona addressed both sides of the football with their first two picks in linebacker Zaven Collins and wideout Rondale Moore. Both players should play a significant role in their rookie seasons.
Biggest question entering training camp
It’s tough to pinpoint one big question for the Cardinals entering training camp as they have a few questions that they need to answer. For starters, Arizona needs to figure out who will replace Patrick Peterson at cornerback. We already know that Byron Murphy will be one of the starting cornerbacks in Week 1. However, we do not know who will be starting opposite of Murphy. Will it be Malcolm Butler, Darqueze Dennard, or Robert Alford? That should be an interesting training camp battle to watch.
The other two questions are centered around the head coach and quarterback duo of Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. The Cardinals started the first the half of the season with a 5-2 record, but then dropped 6 out of their last 9 games. A majority of the blame for Arizona’s second half swoon falls on the shoulder of Kingsbury. Murray played well for the most part, but took 18 sacks in the second half compared to 9 through the first seven games. It also did not help that he was banged up towards the end of the season, which saw the Cardinals play backup QB Chris Streveler.
What needs to happen for the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl?
It seemed as if last season was a prime opportunity to win the NFC West and possibly make a deep playoff based on the state of NFC West. But with a stronger and healthier division, the Cardinals will need to play consistent football on both sides to have a chance to make a Super Bowl run. That means another step forward from Murray along with an injury free season so he can continue to be a threat with his legs.
It’s hard to see where the Cardinals could land in the NFC West. Arizona could end up as the first seed in the division. But with the Seahawks, Rams, and 49ers healthy, the Cards could find themselves in third place too. It honestly falls on that defense, more so the secondary, which will be tested. A wild card berth could be in their future.