Arizona Cardinals 2009 NFL Projection:
It's hard to believe coming into last season Kurt Warner
was battling Matt Leinart in preseason for the Cardinals'
starting quarterback job.
Even worse, Warner was expected to be treated to a quick hook
at the first sign of struggle.
You know the story.
Arizona's passing game erupted with Fitz, Quan, and Breaston.
And they went on to join the Patriots in infamy, losing the Super Bowl
in the closing moments by way of the air.
Of course the Cardinals weren't exactly the usual Super Bowl team.
They scored just 1 point more than they allowed during the regular season.
They finished dead last in rushing-- with opponents
in their division combining for an average league rushing defense
rank of 20th; San Francisco 13th, Seattle, 18th, and
St. Louis 29th. To be fair the Cardinals certainly called a lot of passes which skewed the stats
The Cards also finished below average in team defense at 19th.
But by way of playing in the NFC West, the Cardinals
were able to make the playoffs with a (9-7) mark...
(8-8) would have been good enough to take their division.
Now in 2009, the Cardinals used their first round draft pick
on Chris "Beanie" Wells in an effort to improve their running game.
I'm not certain this was the best selection for the Cards to make.
While it's true Hightower isn't known for speed (though he's lighter this season),
and Edgerrin James (Seattle) no longer runs the way he did in Indianapolis,
the Cardinals also struggled mightily to open holes inside in the
It might have made more sense for the Cardinals to improve the interior of their
offensive line first,
before making a splash with a running back at a later date-- especially when you consider
the ultra-high injury rate at the running back position. And Wells is oft injured.
Of note, the Cardinals brought in Jeremy Bridges to replace Elton Brown who was cut.
Perhaps he will help.
In closing, offensively speaking, if Leinart is
somehow pressed into action in '09, he may find success. He's been in the league long enough now
and he certainly has weapons at the wide receiver position.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals will line up a great looking secondary,
rounded out by the signing of Bryant McFadden of the Steelers who joins
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle.
Karlos Dansby leads the linebacking group, and Darnell Dockett leads the line.
These units are not the strongest in the league by any means.
And one should take care not to view poor offensive performance by division
rivals in '08 as defensive strength in Arizona.
A look at Arizona's 2009 schedule
shows one of the easier slates in the otherwise stacked NFC, thanks
to playing in the weakest division on paper.
However, upon factoring out the Cardinals' six division games (6-0 last season),
one finds the going tough in 8 of their remaining 10 contests;
With such a flashy passing game, it's easy to stay caught up in the Cardinals' Super Bowl
run from a season ago.
But Arizona swept their division opponents in '08, barely escaping with
their second win over the 49ers in week 10. If the 49ers had held
on in that game-- we might be talking about two (8-8) teams from a season ago.
Overall we project the Cardinals to go (7-9) in 2009, as they
may not sweep the 49ers again, or the Seahawks for that matter.
However, (7-9) potentially could be enough wins to snatch first place
in the NFC West.
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Free 2009 NFL Predictions Note:
Remember these now archived 2009 NFL forecasts were made
during the 2009 preseason.
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