The Arizona Cardinals sometimes feel like the personification of Murphy’s law. Every season, no matter how good they play, no matter how stacked their roster is, when you, me, fans all over the place, and even Vegas NFL odds experts think they have the Cardinals figured out, they manage to put themselves in situations that only leave everyone around wondering where everything started going wrong.
Still, for this upcoming season, Vegas NFL odds outlets are once again treating the Cardinals as NFC darlings, dishing out some very good initial predictions for Kyler Murray’s team in 2022. Even after having seen pivotal players like Chandler Jones, Chase Edmonds, and Christian Kirk leave the team during the offseason, NFL lines pundits are not ready to give up on the Cards just yet, which should work as a very good sign for football fans, especially Cardinals football fans all around.
Arizona Cardinals Last Season Performance
Last season the Arizona Cardinals took the league by storm right from the get-go, starting with a seven-game winning streak that quickly saw them become the strongest team in the NFL and everyone’s number 1 candidate to make it to the Super Bowl even win it. After collecting some very important wins against teams like the Titans, Vikings, Rams, 49ers, and Browns, it seemed practically impossible to stop Kyler Murray and the Cards on their way to SB LVI.
But then, Arizona once again fell into their self-destructing ways, losing six of their last ten games in the season and damaging their postseason and Super Bowl stocks greatly.
Still, the Cardinals managed to make it to the playoffs, after collecting an 11-6 record that saw them snatch one of the NFC’s wildcard spots, with the 49ers and Eagles taking the other two spots left. With that said, Arizona’s trip to the postseason was short-lived after losing in their wildcard matchup against divisional rivals and future Super Bowl winners LA Rams by 34-11 in California.
Arizona Cardinals Off-Season Changes
During the offseason, the Arizona Cardinals have taken a rather quiet stance when it comes to dealings and moves in comparison to other NFC teams around. While they have shifted their focus more towards making sure many of their pieces can be resigned before the beginning of the season, it’s in the departure department that the Cardinals have taken some serious blows.
With players like Chandler Jones, Chase Edmonds, and Christian Kirk all leaving the team this offseason, the Cardinals have made it a point to secure their most important and pivotal pieces, all while hitting the draft in a sober but interesting manner. On the managerial side of the game, the Cardinals re-signed head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Kleim to multi-year deals that will see them stay with the team through 2027.
This move-in itself could end up being the most important in the team’s offseason, given that it’s because of these two men that Arizona has gone through a rather positive and important shift in their football culture and ways.
Arizona Cardinals Key Additions
In the field of additions, the Cardinals have shifted their focus more along the lines of resigning players than actually hitting the market to look for outside pieces to fill in certain gaps in the team. The most important moves made by the Cardinals thus far have been the re-signing of running back James Conner, who will now serve as the top back in Arizona’s offense, as well as veteran tight end Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams, another top-caliber tight end option for the team that could end up becoming a perfect pairing for Ertz, and another weapon for Kyler Murray down the field.
Aside from that, several other moves have been made by the team, resigning players in different positions on the field to try and maintain a solid base of a roster for what promises to be a very strong and action-fueled season for Arizona.
Arizona Cardinals Key Subtractions
The departure that will surely hurt the Cardinals is that of outside linebacker Chandler Jones, the team’s historic leader when it comes to sacks, with 71.5 sacks including 10.5 just last season. Jones, who was one of the team’s most important players and locker room leaders decided to take his talents to Las Vegas in exchange for a 3-year, $51 million deal that will see him pair up with Maxx Muncy to wreak havoc upon opposing offenses throughout the league.
Aside from that, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips left the team after one season to go back to the Buffalo Bills on a one-year deal, interior linebacker Jordan Hicks left Arizona for the Vikings in a two-year deal, running back Chase Edmonds traded the Arizona desert for Miami’s beaches after inking a two-year deal with the Dolphins and last but not least, wide receiver Christian Kirk took an offer from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a massive four-year deal with a max value of around $84 million.
Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Analysis
Kliff Kingsbury will be entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and there is no perceivable way in which he and the Cardinals could be looking at parting ways any time soon. Ever since taking over the team, Arizona has consistently shown more and more signs of improvement and growth, all while continuing to follow along the lines of an offensive-minded strategy and a strong defensive mentality to back it up.
Kingsbury, who continues to be one of the most exciting coaching prospects in the league will be looking to repeat last year’s successes when he managed to take the Cardinals to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. With his views of a pass-friendly offense where explosiveness down the field is a must, and a refreshing view of football, it’s only fair and logical for Kingsbury and the Cards to be able to continue moving upwards in the NFC standings and power rankings.
Arizona Cardinals Injured Players at the Beginning of the Season
As of right now, the Arizona Cardinals have six players carrying injuries that could see the team having to start the season without them. For their week 1 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cardinals at the moment will not be able to count on players like offensive tackle Justin Murray, as well as tight ends Alex Ellis and Maxx Williams.
When it comes to the defense and secondary, the Cardinals have defensive ends Zach Allen and Cameron Thomas as well as safety James Wiggins. As with every other team this early in the preseason, all players are expected to be able to bounce back and recover in full before the start of the actual preseason and of course before the first game of the season.
Arizona Cardinals Offense
This team is all about offense. Their coach is one of the best, offensive-driven strategists in the league. Their receiver core, once DeAndre Hopkins is back will surely be one of the best in the NFC. They have a very strong running back to take care of 1st and 2nd downs in James Conner, and their QB?
Well, Kyler Murray should be more than poised to have a breakout season in 2022, especially after everything he showed in 2021, passing for almost 4,000 yards, 24 touchdown passes, and a passer rating of 100.6 for the season. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget about his 423 rushing yards with five touchdowns rushing.
In a passer-friendly offense like the one Arizona rides with, Murray should be able to make an enormous leap of quality this season, especially with the addition of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in the receiver room, a player who has all the tools to become an explosive and dominant force for deep ball plays with Murray. While the team will have to wait for Hopkins to come back from his six-game suspension, Brown should fit in just fine as the replacement of former star Arizona WR Christian Kirk.
All and all, fans should expect great things from Arizona’s offense this upcoming season, with the unit ranking in the higher tens of all-league lists when it comes to yardage, passing, rushing, and of course scoring. Let’s just hope that the Cardinals’ offensive line can do enough to give Murray enough space and time to play and move around the pocket.
Arizona Cardinals Defense
The question here is not how good will the Cardinals’ defense be, but actually how much will Chandler Jones not being around anymore hurt the team? It’s no secret that this defense held its own in the league because of Jones’ leadership and dominance, especially since JJ Watt is becoming more and more a shadow of his former self from his playing days in Houston. But still, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph should not have to overstress trying to think about how to get this defense to bounce back after seeing Jones leave for the Raiders.
On defense and in the secondary, Arizona needs players like Budda Baker, Isaiah Simmons, Marco Wilson, Markus Golden, Jalen Thompson, and hopefully a healthy JJ Watt to step up and make this unit a force to be reckoned with in the NFC, especially when thinking about the lineup of opposing offenses the team will have to face if they want to have a realistic chance to make it to the postseason in 2022.
Arizona Cardinals Special Teams
In the special teams department, the Arizona Cardinals don’t really present any changes or moves for the 2022 season. In the punting and kicking jobs, the responsibilities will once again fall on the hands, or well feet of punter Andy Lee, who re-signed with the team during this offseason, and Matt Prater. For the long snapper position, Aaron Brewer will be back at it once again this season with the Cardinals.
On the other hand, when it comes to kick and punt returning all signs point towards wide receiver Rondale Moore once again taking over those duties for the team, especially considering his level of speed and explosiveness when rushing down the field.
Arizona Cardinals Prediction for 2022 Season
Without DeAndre Hopkins for the first 6 games of the season, the Cardinals will really need new WR Marquise Brown as well as Rondale Moore to step up in helping Kyler Murray in Arizona’s pass-driven offense. On defense, the team should be just fine. I mean, we’re talking about a line whose leaders are Budda Baker and JJ Watt, so should there really be any concern for Arizona’s defense? Yeah, no, didn’t think so either.
With all of this said, Arizona needs, and I repeat, needs to be able to avoid falling into its usual ways of self-sabotage and implosion. Instead of finding ways to screw themselves into easily avoidable mistakes and unnecessary hiccups, the Cardinals need to focus on exploiting their assets. For example, finding ways to incorporate James Conners’ running game into their offense more and how to make their secondary stronger and stronger.
Given that the Cardinals will be playing in one of the toughest divisions in the league, in the toughest conference in the league, there is virtually no room for mistakes to be made here. Arizona needs to understand that their biggest competition is the San Francisco 49ers for the 2nd place in their division. If the Cardinals can hold a steady ship throughout the whole season, there’s no reason as to why we shouldn’t be seeing them in the playoffs at the end of it all.
Arizona Cardinals Final Thoughts
Every year, it’s impossible to not get a little bit excited about what the Cardinals might be bringing to the table. They have a great coaching staff, a solid roster full of proven veterans and up-and-coming stars, and a very good football culture to back them up. But again, the Cardinals need to be their own worst enemies. They have to buy into their hype if they want to take off in the NFC and make a true statement as a team ridden for success.
Kyler Murray is a good quarterback, not great yet, but very good right now. Their defense is the definition of strong and relentless and with a receiver core that any other team would want to have, with Hopkins out of suspension and balling, of course, there is no way to not like this team. But at the end of the day, everything falls back to the Cardinals not sabotaging themselves into oblivion.
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Arizona Cardinals FAQ
What's the most Arizona Cardinals thing ever?
Team implosion, as simple as that. If you’ve ever taken some time to pay attention to how a regular NFL season works for the Arizona Cardinals it almost always goes the same way. The Cardinals start strong, with a roster that reads like a who’s who of talent. They proceed to hype up their fans and everyone around with some good wins and strong showings on the field, and then, the usual ticking time bomb that hovers around the Cardinals starts ticking.
It doesn’t matter how good the team is playing, or what their schedule looks like, the Cardinals almost always manage to trip themselves along the way and shatter any real possibilities they create to have a strong postseason run. Every year, the story usually pans out in the same form, even if at the beginning of the road, Arizona promises over and over again that those flaws will not happen again.
How Much Will the DeAndre Hopkins Suspension Hurt the Arizona Cardinals?
The Arizona Cardinals caused a major splash around the league when they signed former Texans all-star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to a multi-million-dollar deal making him the No. 1 receiver for the team for the foreseeable future. In his first season as a Cardinal, Hopkins balled out, with 1,407 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns, while in 2021 Hopkins, who only played in 10 games that season still managed to have 572 receiving yards with 8 touchdowns.
But now, for the 2022 season, the Cardinals will have to start the first six games of the season without Hopkins as their premier receiver because of a six-game suspension because of a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, a claim Hopkins has continued to battle.
It’s no secret that both the Cardinals and Kyler Murray need Hopkins on the field, especially if they want to cause an early splash in the NFC West conference, but without the star receiver for the first part of the season, the Cardinals will need to find suitable answers fast. Unless the Cardinals can withhold the pressure of not having their star receiver for the start of the season, the damage done by Hopkins’ suspension could end up being gigantic.
Which Cardinals Stars Are Poised for a Surprising Pro Bowl Invitation?
Kyler Murray, James Conner, D.J. Humphries, Chandler Jones, and Budda Baker all represented the Arizona Cardinals in last season’s Pro Bowl. The Cardinals had players from both offense and defense represent the team in the NFL’s version of the All-Star Game, and while we could once again see players like Conner, Jones and Baker make it to the Bowl once again, what about throwing some new names into the mix for the 2022 season?
Newly acquired WR Marquise Brown who came to the team from the Ravens, 2nd year starting CB Marco Wilson, and linebacker Isaiah Simmons are all looking like they are in line to have a breakout season with Arizona this year, which could end up leading to a Pro Bowl invitation by the end of the season. For Brown, playing alongside DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore in Arizona’s WR core will surely help his stock rise greatly, especially with Arizona’s pass-driven offense.
For Wilson and Simmons, if they can manage to maximize their playing on the field and become even stronger pieces for DC Vance Joseph’s defensive schemes, they can easily end up becoming some of the best players in their positions in the conference, which can easily lead to a Pro Bowl invitation.
Is Kyler Murray done playing for the Arizona Cardinals?
A lot of talk circled around Kyler Murray and the Cardinals this offseason, especially when thinking if Murray’s time with Arizona was over. But for now, and looking towards the team’s immediate future, all signs point towards Murray staying with the team for the time being.
While many critics have made it a point to continue pinpointing Murray’s flaws and lack of leadership in Arizona’s offense, the former Oklahoma Sooners star continues to improve with each season that passes, showing some strong and clear signs of improvement, especially in an offense that’s all about passing.
So no, Kyler Murray’s time playing for the Cardinals is not done, it’s far from done, especially if he, Hopkins, Brown, Moore, and Ertz continue to congeal more and more as one of the top receiver and QB combos in the league.