ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-8)
New Faces: DE J.J. Watt, WR A.J. Green, C Rodney Hudson, OL Brian Winters, QB Colt McCoy, LB Zaven Collins (first-round pick), WR Rondale Moore (second-round pick), RB James Conner, K Matt Prater, S Shawn Williams.
Key Losses: WR Larry Fitzgerald, RB Kenyan Drake, CB Patrick Peterson, TE Dan Arnold, K Zane Gonzalez, LB De’Vondre Campbell, LB Haason Reddick, CB Dre Kirkpatrick.
Strengths: The Cardinals have one of the league’s up-and-coming quarterbacks in Kyler Murray. The third-year starter has mostly delivered since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft. Murray’s partnership with receiver DeAndre Hopkins was one of the NFL’s most productive last season. The offensive line has several quality veterans, including LT D.J. Humphries, LG Justin Pugh, Hudson and RT Kelvin Beachum. Arizona could have one of the league’s best pass rush duos with newly acquired J.J. Watt and veteran holdover Chandler Jones. Safety Budda Baker has evolved into one of the league’s best at that position.
Weaknesses: The running game needs to evolve after losing Drake in free agency. Chase Edmonds and Conner are the two main options in the backfield, while Murray’s ability to run is also a big part of the offense. When Murray is limited to being a pocket passer, Arizona’s offense can struggle. The Cardinals acquired several big names in the offseason, including Green, Watt and Hudson. They’ve all been good players, but they’ve also got a lot of mileage. Staying healthy will be a key.
Camp Development: Rookie Collins has been handed the keys to the defense and he’ll be expected to start at middle linebacker from Day 1. He’ll pair with second-year linebacker Isaiah Simmons in the middle of the field to form an exciting but inexperienced duo. On the offensive line, a three-way battle at guard among Josh Jones, Justin Murray and Brian Winters continues. The Cardinals lost experience and a potential starter at cornerback when Malcolm Butler was put on the reserve/retired list on Tuesday.
Fantasy Player To Watch: Green made the Pro Bowl seven straight seasons before struggling with injuries and a quarterback shuffle in Cincinnati. He gets a fresh start in Arizona and should get plenty of looks from Murray with Hopkins taking a lot of attention from opposing defenses.
FanDuel Says: Win Super Bowl: 48-1. Over/under wins: 8 1/2.
Expectations: The Cardinals are under considerable pressure to make the playoffs in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s third season. The Murray-Kingsbury combination has been productive at times but also inconsistent. The defense was much improved last season under coordinator Vance Joseph and will be expected to take another step forward. Arizona must navigate the NFC West, which is arguably the toughest division in football.
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