NFL: Why the Arizona Cardinals will win the NFC West in 2008 - 09

Cody TroccoliCorrespondent IMay 8, 2008

    The Arizona Cardinals finished 8-8 with a three-game improvement from last season. Had they not lost to San Francisco twice, two games they should've easily won, they would have made it to the playoffs. 

    They lost Matt Leinart early in the season with a shoulder injury, and veteran Kurt Warner stepped in and had monster numbers. He completed 62.3 percent of his passes for over 3,000 yards, and tossed 27 touchdowns.

     Their home record was 6-2, and their away record was 2-6. If they could improve their road record up by a couple of games, they can be a contender in 2008.

     The 2007 Cardinals had a lot of injuries, for a change, and that really hurt their playoffs' hopes. A few huge ones were: Adrian Wilson (foot), Matt Leinart (shoulder), Cheke Okeafor (arm), Eric Green ( groin) among others.

     I really think that their O-Line that will be together for the second year in a row, has put on weight and will be solid. Brown (sophomore) and Lutui (junior) are on the right side and will clear the way for James. Granted, James is getting old, but put up solid numbers last season with 1,000 rushing yards and 3.5 yards per carry.

      Some negatives factors going into 2008 were the loss a big linebacker in Calvin Pace to the New York Jets, when they signed him to a six-year $45 million contract. They replaced him with the signings of Travis LaBoy from Tennessee and Clark Haggens from the Pittsburgh Steelers. They've also lost receiver Bryant Johnson to the 49ers, but replaced him with their third round pick of the draft; Early Doucet from LSU.

       In the first day of the  draft, they really improved their defense by selecting Tennessee State CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (cousin of the Chargers' Cromartie) using the 16th overall pick. They plugged some of their holes by picking up key players in the draft's later rounds. RB Tim Hightower, drafted in the fifth round, could spell aging Edgerrin James as early as this season, for example.

      If some of these players can contribute right away, and if they can avoid major injures to key personnel, they could be huge this year!