2011 Arizona Cardinals NFL Expert Predictions, Picks, 2012 Vegas Super Bowl Odds and Schedule – Arizona Cardinals NFL Football Season Preview: Although the Arizona Cardinals didn’t have the worst record in the NFL last year, they may have been statistically the worst franchise in the league. On offense, the Cardinals ranked second last in points scored, second last in passing yardage, and dead last in rushing yards. Things weren’t much better on defense where Arizona ranked 29th in points allowed, 23rd in passing yards allowed, and 30th in rushing yards allowed. Despite having some serious room to improve in every facet of the game, the Cardinals could still compete for the NFC West with only a few offseason changes. After all, the Seattle Seahawks won the division last year with a 7-9 record.
The major change was shipping draft picks and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Philadelphia in exchange for quarterback Kevin Kolb. The highly-regarded prospect had the starting job for the Eagles last year until an injury opened the door for the Mike Vick. Needless to say, that ship has sailed, and both Kolb and the Cardinals have could benefit from the change. After all, Derek Anderson and Josh Skelton gave Arizona next to nothing at the QB position last year despite having Larry Fitzgerald to throw to. Fitzgerald’s numbers should see a huge boost with Kolb under center, and even if he isn’t the franchise QB people think he is, he has already shown in his limited starts that he is an upgrade from what the Cardinals had. The addition of tight end Todd Heap could be vital as well, giving Kolb an underneath threat to pair with Fitzgerald’s big play potential.
While Arizona was always going to be a pass-first offense, the running game was expected to be upgraded with addition of explosive rookie Ryan Williams. Unfortunately, a preseason injury has sidelined him for the year, leaving Beanie Wells and his fragile frame as the feature back. Wells has plenty of potential after a successful college career at Ohio State, but staying on the field has been a major issue. A below average offensive line hasn’t helped, but he should benefit from the addition of offensive tackle Daryn Colledge as well as an improved passing game. The Cardinals need him to step up this season or risk being one-dimensional.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Kolb trade and injuries will force rookie first-round pick Patrick Peterson into the starting lineup at cornerback. Peterson was regarded as the top player in April’s draft, and in college, he was a force on special teams as well. Despite his rare combination of size, speed and talent, it may take him a few games to adjust to life in the NFL. The same can be said for rookie defensive end Sam Acho, who the Cardinals are counting on to boost a pass rush that was nonexistent last season. Outside of the upgrades in the draft, Arizona’s defense won’t be much different from a year ago. While the young players should get more comfortable as the year progresses, it is unlikely this unit will improve all that much.
In the end, the Cardinals prospects are bolstered more by the division they play in than by their actual roster. The front office overpaid for Kolb, but it had to in order to convince Fitzgerald to resign long term. If the Kolb to Fitzgerald connection catches fire early and Wells can stay healthy, the Arizona offense should be vastly improved. However, the defense is still likely going to struggle. The Cardinals could approach the .500 mark this season, and that is all it will take to make them contenders in the division. However, the St. Louis Rams are going to give them a serious challenge.
Preseason 2011 Arizona Cardinals NFL Odds:
Odds to Win 2012 Super Bowl: +7000
Odds to Win 2011 NFC Championship: +3250
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2011 Arizona Cardinals NFL Football Schedule
1 Sunday Sep. 11 4:15 PM Panthers – – Tickets
2 Sunday Sep. 18 1:00 PM at Redskins – – Tickets
3 Sunday Sep. 25 4:15 PM at Seahawks – – Tickets
4 Sunday Oct. 2 4:05 PM Giants – – Tickets
5 Sunday Oct. 9 1:00 PM at Vikings – – Tickets
6 Bye Week
7 Sunday Oct. 23 4:05 PM Steelers – – Tickets
8 Sunday Oct. 30 1:00 PM at Ravens – – Tickets
9 Sunday Nov. 6 4:15 PM Rams – – Tickets
10 Sunday Nov. 13 1:00 PM at Eagles – – Tickets
11 Sunday Nov. 20 4:05 PM at 49ers – – Tickets
12 Sunday Nov. 27 1:00 PM at Rams – – Tickets
13 Sunday Dec. 4 4:15 PM Cowboys – – Tickets
14 Sunday Dec. 11 4:05 PM 49ers – – Tickets
15 Sunday Dec. 18 4:15 PM Browns – – Tickets
16 Saturday Dec. 24 1:00 PM at Bengals – – Tickets
17 Sunday Jan. 1 4:15 PM Seahawks – – Tickets
Check out NSAwins.com’s official 2011 NFL Over Under Team Wins Odds and Predictions and 2011 NFC West Odds and Predictions articles.
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