Arizona Cardinals: 4 Reasons They Will Win the NFC West
A team that seems to be flying under the radar during the flurry of moves this offseason is the Arizona Cardinals. Aside from the high profile acquisition of Kevin Kolb, the club hasn't received much publicity for the moves it has made going into the 2011 season.
Make no mistake, the Cardinals find themselves in a very good position to win the NFC West and return to the playoffs. Let's take a look at some key reasons why the division title will return to the desert.
Kevin Kolb brings talent to a Cardinals offense that is beyond lacking in that category under center. Although he has limited experience up to this point in his career, he has shown moments of franchise-level talent when given the opportunity.
Kolb has the arm power and accuracy to move this offense up and down the field. He should have no problem doing so with a young and talented group of receivers led by all-world wideout Larry Fitzgerald.
Another element he brings to the table is his mobility. He has an innate ability to avoid the rush and pick up a first down with his legs when needed. His overall skill-set is similar to that of Aaron Rodgers.
If he can execute anywhere near the level of Rodgers, this offense will be humming.
With the loss of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, not many are giving this defense a chance. However, with some of the new additions on the roster, this defense has a good shot at being dominant. A quick look at some key acquisitions:
Patrick Peterson, CB
Drafted fifth overall by the Cardinals, Patrick Peterson was selected to add dynamic speed to the secondary. An absolute beast in college, Peterson should find himself in the starting lineup early in the season with the potential to be a game-changer.
In addition to his defensive duties, expect to see Peterson returning punts with his blazing speed.
Stewart Bradley, LB
Previously with the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona picked up Bradley during the free agent frenzy following the lockout. Bradley is strong, has a high motor and misses very few tackles.
He will be a solid starter for years to come for the Cardinals.
Ray Horton, Defensive Coordinator
The Cardinals went out and got themselves a real defensive coordinator with the signing of Ray Horton.
Horton is bringing a scheme that helped the Steeler's defense finish second in the league last season in overall defense. He's an old-school coach that expects precise execution from his players.
Expect an aggressive blitz-happy squad on game days all season long.
Larry Fitzgerald leads a group of young, talented skill players on the Cardinals' roster.
Fitzgerald finished last season with 90 catches and 1,137 yards. He did this without a quarterback who could hit the broad side of a barn. Expect Fitz to have a monster season. This alone will open up opportunities with some of the other up and coming receivers, such as Andre Roberts and Early Doucet.
Arizona also went out and picked up Todd Heap, a solid NFL tight end. Heap played collegiate ball locally at Arizona State and figures to be a fan favorite. He will provide a solid option for Kolb. If Kolb's short history has shown us anything, it's that he looks for his tight ends to make plays.
Beanie Wells will begin the season as the starter but will have to deal with Ryan Williams breathing down his neck. Williams, the rookie out of Virginia Tech, looks to get a lot of opportunities early on to wedge himself into the lineup. He's a speedy back who is a good pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Strength of Schedule
The schedule definitely favors Arizona for a playoff berth at a minimum. Of course, the games still need to played, and anything can happen.
However, with the way the stars are aligned for Arizona, there won't be much of an excuse if the division is not won in 2011.