Bruce Arians said this week he’s already excited about the 2015 Arizona Cardinals.
We know the Cardinals’ big decisions that need to be made (Larry Fitzgerald, Daryl Washington). We also know about the early story lines on Carson Palmer and Darnell Dockett’s knees, Jonathan Cooper needing to justify his draft status and the need for increasing pressure on the opposing quarterback with talent as opposed to scheme.
Since we know the Cards, what about the other guys? If Arians is fired up for 2015, let’s look at the opponents’ story lines.
SUPER BOWL CHAMPION
There’s a very good chance the Super Bowl Champion will play in University of Phoenix Stadium twice in 2015 — once in February and once against the Cardinals. Seattle, Green Bay and the Baltimore all have road games in Glendale next season.
Arizona has three games against coaches with new teams and, possibly, rookie head coaches: two divisional games (San Francisco) and a road game in Chicago.
Although I think the best job for Bowles would be Atlanta, if Bowles fills one of the two positions above, he’s coaching against Bruce Arians with inside knowledge of the Cards’ personnel. Imagine the storyline if he instructs Colin Kaepernick to attack Patrick Peterson.
Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are two of the four premier producers at their position. Both have road games against the Cardinals. He’s not top 5, but Joe Flacco is coming to town as well. Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford await Arizona in their building. Plus, the Cardinals travel to see the circus as they must prepare for Johnny Football in Cleveland.
Any chance the Eagles trade up for Oregon’s quarterback? If Chip Kelly does it, the Cardinals will have to defend Marcus Mariota in Philly.
Of course, Arizona plays Detroit. It’s becoming so frequent it should count as a divisional game.
THE RUNNING BACK QUESTION
One thing we don’t know about the Cardinals’ 2015 opponents will have a dramatic effect on the entire NFL. Will Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson be coming to Glendale? The Seahawks and Vikings will definitely play in University of Phoenix Stadium, yet no one knows if the two most prolific running backs of the last decade will play for them…or if they will ever play again.