The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2018 regular season on Sept. 6. Up next in our preseason rankings are the rebuild-averse Arizona Cardinals.
2017 in a nutshell: They’re forced to use Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton as starting quarterbacks for the majority of the season, making it a miracle that they go 8-8.
What’s different: With the Bruce Arians era over, the coaching staff has a new look with incoming head coach Steve Wilks, new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and defensive coordinator Al Holcomb. Also, Carson Palmer is gone and they’ve used a top-10 pick on his heir apparent, Josh Rosen.
Why they could be awesome: Rosen is polished enough to dazzle as a rookie, and even if he doesn’t it’s possible Sam Bradford could finally put together a healthy and productive season. They’re also getting 2016 All-Pro running back David Johnson back from injury.
Why they could suck: Rosen will likely need some time, Bradford loves getting injured, the defense isn’t what it used to be, and they lack weapons and support for their quarterbacks and running back on offense.
Major additions: Rosen, second-round wide receiver Christian Kirk, offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Andre Smith, and veteran wideout Brice Butler.
Major losses: Safety Tyrann Mathieu, receivers John and Jaron Brown, defensive back Tramon Williams, running back Adrian Peterson.
Breakout watch: Speedy second-year safety Budda Baker flashed significantly when he was finally given a chance to start during the second half of his rookie season in 2017. With Mathieu gone, the way has been paved for him to become a star in 2018.
Position to watch: It’s complicated at wide receiver with the Brown twins gone. Larry Fitzgerald isn’t a major play-maker at the age of 34, Chad Williams and JJ Nelson have to become more reliable, the jury is obviously still out on Kirk, and they’re putting a lot of stuck into the unaccomplished Butler. They’ll need someone to rise up.
Prediction: The Bradford contract is weird considering the direction this franchise is going in. The defense was practically gutted last year and the receiving corps and offensive line both have a lot of work to do. They’re clearly the worst team in that division and certainly don’t inspire a lot of confidence heading into a rebuild. They might win five.
5-11, 4th place in the NFC West