After winning the NFC West in 2015, the Arizona Cardinals were a popular pick to return to the postseason a year ago, but that was just not in the cards (pun intended). Bruce Arians’ team struggled through a 7-8-1 campaign, although with a +56 point differential you could make a case for them being unlucky. Led by star running back David Johnson and future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona’s offense should continue to put up points. That, combined with a defense loaded with playmakers, this team could be in line for a significant rebound in 2017.
2016 Record: 7-8-1
Notable Additions: S Antoine Bethea, OLB Jarvis Jones, LB Karlos Dansby, K Phil Dawson, QB Blaine Gabbert
Notable Subtractions: DE Calais Campbell, S Tony Jefferson, TE Darren Fells, LB Alex Okafor, S D.J. Swearinger, LB Daryl Washington, G Earl Watford, LB Kevin Minter
Notable Rookies: LB Haasan Reddick, S Budda Baker, WR Chad Williams, G Dorian Johnson
Analysis: The Cardinals believe they have the capability to compete with the Seahawks for the NFC West division crown in the upcoming season, and they have good reason for their confidence. Quarterback Carson Palmer is still a competent gunslinger, and multi-purpose back David Johnson is a match-up nightmare both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. Arizona’s defense will miss Calais Campbell, D.J. Swearinger, and Tony Jefferson tremendously, but Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon give them two elite defenders at premium positions. Veteran kicker Phil Dawson is one of the more successful specialists in NFL history, and his addition should help improve a special teams unit that left something to be desired a year ago.