The Arizona Cardinals have one of the more interesting plot lines as the NFL Draft rolls around, especially on the heels of our first look at their 2017 schedule. As the status quo goes, and a relatively injury free season would tell you, 9-7 is a popular record to pick.
But is it a reality?
I’m not as optimistic, as all indications are that the success or failure of the Arizona franchise this year relies on the good health of Carson Palmer.
That’s right Cardinals fans, if the 37 year old quarterback entering his 15th season can stay upright, then we might see playoff football next January.
One more thing, Palmer turns 38 on December 27, four days before their season finale at the Seattle Seahawks.
For the record, I’m all about the grizzled veteran quarterback. Further, I’m also a Palmer fan, so I’d love nothing more than seeing him lead the Cardinals to one more, possibly last hurrah in the Arizona desert.
But I’m also a pragmatist, and 37 year old quarterbacks are a dicey bet to stay healthy in a game where the defense is tasked with inflicting as much pain as possible on that position.
Looking at the schedule for the Cardinals, 9-7 is a Fool’s Paradise.
Let the countdown begin.
Our 2017 schedule is here!
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) April 21, 2017
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I recently wrote that in my view, Arizona is much closer to a rebuild than not. So having said that, the idea of such a record is for me, a reach.
But not a big one.
At first glance, this Cardinals team has to “hope” a lot.
“Hope” Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald can stay healthy. “Hope” that the wheels don’t come off of a defense that saw massive defections this offseason.
Oh yes, and “hope” some inner division also-rans’ like Los Angeles and San Francisco DON’T perform even a little bit better than they did last season.
That’s a lot of “hope” in a league that shows contenders and pretenders begin to separate once a team hits the first quarter pole. And one more thing, the NFC East isn’t the best division in football for nothing. The Giants and Eagles will be better this season, and a home game against Dallas will challenge this team. That’s four games against four quality opponents, and not a gimme among them, home or away.
All that said, I just don’t see 9-7.
For me, the Cardinals ARE flirting with that dreaded rebuild. Outside of New England, the cyclical nature of NFL football is everyone eventually comes back to the pack. The goal is not slipping below it.
I see Arizona much closer to 7-9 versus 9-7. But I also think they are one game better, so I see this team finishing a logical 8-8.
“Hope” in the NFL is a game plan you don’t want to rely on come Sunday’s in the fall.
Count on Arizona fans feeling the same.