In an NFC West Division that has become cutthroat in nature, the Arizona Cardinals have made improvements… but will they be enough to translate into a playoff appearance this season?
Best Offseason Move:
The Cardinals acquired inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, a former member of the team who then played for the Miami Dolphins. It’s no idle coincidence that the Cardinals’ best years as a franchise unfolded when Dansby was on the team. This is a rugged defensive presence and a great locker-room leader who will add so much to the Cardinals – not just on the defensive side of the ball, but in terms of being an example the younger players on the team can look up to. Arizona’s level of cohesion on defense will improve with Dansby in the fold. Picking up Rashard Mendenhall, a running back from the Pittsburgh Steelers, was certainly a solid move, and grabbing quarterback Carson Palmer might represent a slight upgrade from perpetually-injured signal caller Kevin Kolb. However, it’s Dansby who should give this team more impact than any other veteran addition the Cardinals delivered in the offseason.
Worst Offseason Move:
The secondary is the clear weak spot in the Cardinals’ defense. The NFL betting odds makers know that Arizona is robust and rugged in the front seven, with good pass rushers and quality run stuffers. The back line of defense, however, is a concern, and the team’s offseason moves have done little to nothing to assure the team’s fan base that things are going to get better this season. The team picked up cornerback Antoine Cason from the San Diego Chargers and cornerback Jerraud Powers from the Indianapolis Colts. If the Cardinals’ front four cannot get to the opposing quarterback, this team is going to be in trouble, especially since its offense – not its defense – is its weaker link. It’s true that this team needed to find a way to plug gaps in the secondary – it did have to make some moves. Adrian Wilson, who had done so much for the franchise as a safety who gave up his body to make plays, signed with the New England Patriots in the offseason. Losing Wilson was and is a substantial blow, and the team had to respond to that setback. Unfortunately, it does not seem as though picking up Cason and Powers will be able to address the needs the team faced in the wake of Wilson’s departure.
How They’ll Finish In The Division:
The Cardinals might be a decent team, but they’re stuck in a ferociously competitive division. NFL betting handicappers know that the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks will rule the roost in the NFC West, and the St. Louis Rams – who made so many good offseason moves and draft picks – are probably better than the Cardinals as well. If this team finishes 8-8, it will have done something worth applauding in 2013. All in all, a sub-.500 season seems likely in the Valley of the Sun. Arizona’s offense will not be able to carry its share of the workload this season; Palmer is not up to par as an NFL quarterback – not at this point in his fading career.
Super Bowl Odds: +6500