The Cardinals are the most boom-or-bust team in the NFC West. Arizona has the second-highest ceiling among the division’s four teams, but the lowest floor. My model believes that the West has the strongest chance to supply at least one wild-card team to the NFC playoffs. Yes, I know the South boasts a pair of teams with higher win totals, but the close results in the West — top to bottom — mean every game that the division’s teams play against each other will shift the odds a lot. (Remember, no team is projected to win a game with 100 percent certainty.)
According to Next Gen Stats, the Cardinals used four-plus receivers on 33 percent of plays last season, while no other team did so more than 10 percent of the time. Adding DeAndre Hopkins makes everything pass-related more favorable, as he’s led the NFL in all boundary metrics (targets within 2 yards of the sideline) since 2016, with 117 targets, 39 receptions and 620 yards. Kliff Kingsbury will be able to dial up plays that present even more space for Kyler Murray and the offense to work with, while simultaneously making the most of Kenyan Drake’s help in the run game. On the downside, the Cardinals allowed the most passing yards per game on first down last season (124.6), while Murray took an NFL-high 48 sacks. Arizona drafted dynamic defender Isaiah Simmons in Round 1 and right tackle Josh Jones in Round 3 — will the rookies be able to make an immediate difference in those aforementioned problem areas? Team chemistry will determine whether the franchise returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2015 or remains a season away from contention. Go with the Cardinals making the playoffs, I say, and enjoy the ride of cheering for this upstart squad. Could Murray become the latest quarterback to take the league by storm in Year 2? Sure, why not?
Fun fantasy note: Kyler Murray rushes for more than 475 yards in 60.0 percent of simulations.