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Cardinals season prediction: 7-9

8/27/2013



A 7-9 prediction for the Arizona Cardinals suggests only a two-game improvement from 2012, but that is misleading. The 2012 team, which lost 11 of its final 12 games, was horrible and horribly undermanned by season's end.

The current team will be much better thanks primarily to Carson Palmer’s addition by trade from Oakland. Palmer is not a great quarterback, but he's at least competent. Palmer could improve playing with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd under an offensive-minded coach with big plans for him. At the very least, the way Palmer has played recently should equate to about three additional victories over a 16-game schedule, considering the quarterback play Arizona received last season.

There are some concerns. Finishing better than 2-4 against NFC West opponents could be tough given the state of the division. I'm not as concerned as some about the Cardinals' offensive line. Depth and talent is improved there, and the position was trending positively late last season. Palmer's low sack rate should help. Durability concerns at running back are well founded, however. Rashard Mendenhall and especially Ryan Williams have had trouble staying healthy. And while Palmer represents an upgrade, he might still be the fourth-ranked quarterback in the division.

Predicted finish in NFC West: fourth