The Arizona Cardinals are in a stacked NFC West division, but the franchise is hopeful for an improved season. They missed out on the playoffs last year, so that will be the main goal for the Cardinals. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury might be on the hot seat, as Arizona has the talent to be a playoff team. However, they have yet to reach the postseason under Kingbury’s control.
Either way, the Cardinals will be a competitive team throughout the regular season. Although their roster is a bit on the older side, the defense looks ready to go. JJ Watt and Chandler Jones lock it down on the defensive line, while young prospects Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins help in the front seven. The secondary is exposed, but if the front seven can hold it down, the Cardinals will have a fighting chance.
The offense is where this team thrives. After trading for DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals passing game improved drastically. He’ll play a huge role this year, as he’s the best player on the team. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray hopes to make a massive leap in development, as he has the tools to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. With that said, here are four bold predictions for the Cardinals’ 2021 season.
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4. Cardinals defense finishes top 5 in sacks
As previously stated, the secondary is vulnerable and is a major concern for this franchise. However, the front seven is loaded with talent. So much so, that Arizona might be able to camouflage their terrible pass coverage. Watt and Jones are still premiere pass rushers. Additionally, Zaven Collins, Isaiah Simmons, and Markus Goldman provide excellent run support and consistency in the linebacker position.
Look for the Cardinals to get after opposing quarterbacks at a high rate. If this organization hopes to make a playoff appearance, the defense has to step up in a big way. We could see JJ Watt and Chandler Jones each record double-digit sacks this year, as opposing offenses will struggle to guard this dynamic duo. For that reason, the Cardinals have a real shot at leading the league in sacks.
3. Zaven Collins wins Defensive Rookie of the Year
The Cardinals’ first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft will be making his career debut against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1. Arizona is excited for their rookie linebacker, as his potential is through the roof. He’s outplayed Jordan Hicks who has been a consistent starter throughout his career. Additionally, Zaven Collins is a great overall linebacker. He can stuff the run, rush the quarterback, and drop back in coverage.
Collins might be “Mr. Everything” for the Cardinals, as he can be a consistent force as an inside linebacker. The fanbase should be ecstatic about the Cardinals’ future, as their 3-4 defense is shaping up nicely. Between Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons, Arizona has a bright future ahead of themselves. Look for Collins to burst onto the scene immediately as he should be in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
2. DeAndre Hopkins finishes as the top-ranked wide receiver
Nearly everyone is in agreement that DeAndre Hopkins is one of the league’s best receivers. He’s been incredibly consistent throughout his career and nothing should change in 2021. Kyler Murray throws to Hopkins often, which gives the superstar wide receiver the volume he needs to produce as a top target in the NFL.
The Cardinals play an Air-Raid offense that spreads the field out with multiple receivers. This is a dream offensive scheme for any wide receiver, as they’re the main beneficiary of an Air-Raid offense. Murray will throw to DeAndre Hopkins as often as possible, which bodes well for the Cardinals offense. Look for Hopkins to be very involved all year long, as he could be the league’s best wide receiver this season.
1. Kyler Murray wins the MVP
Kyler Murray is an exciting young player that can do it all. He’s an elite-level athlete who is dangerous with his legs. He has proven to be a better passer than most anticipated, but he still needs to develop that skill. If Murray can excel in the pocket and hit his receivers consistently, the Cardinals could have one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
If that’s the case, Arizona will be contending for a playoff spot near the end of the season. The front office has built a solid offense around their star quarterback. Now is the time for Kyler Murray to make a massive leap in production and prove he’s more than a scrambling quarterback. Look for Murray to have a huge year and possibly be in contention for the MVP award.