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NFL.com writer: Arizona Cardinals’ ceiling is much higher than their floor

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

It’s hard to know just how good the Arizona Cardinals will be this season.

If all goes right, it is thought, they could very well be among the NFC’s best teams, boasting a legitimate shot at reaching Super Bowl 50.

If all goes wrong, however, they could be, well, worse.

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com sought out to give the variances for each team, presenting both the ceiling and floor for all.

And for the Cardinals, there is quite a gap between the best-case scenario and the worst.

Ceiling: 12-4. Carson Palmer comes out flat dealin’. John Brown evolves into a WR1 and Larry Fitzgerald (32) puts up the stop sign on the aging process. To win 12 games, the Cards have to getsomething out of the running game — not the 3 yards and a cloud of blah they got last season. Also, in this scenario, the defense doesn’t miss former coordinator Todd Bowles.

Floor: 6-10. Palmer plays as inconsistently as he did in some of his later days in Cincinnati. The Cardinals are afflicted with even worse luck in the health department than they were in 2014. And, perhaps most importantly, the defense fails to produce the late-game turnovers and big plays that helped this team jump out to 9-1 last season.

Seems fair, right?

The Cardinals certainly seem talented enough to win 12 games, and with the way Palmer has looked through most of camp and preseason, the idea that he’ll come out playing well isn’t particularly far-fetched. Furthermore, Brown has looked fantastic, while it’s not unreasonable to think Fitzgerald’s numbers will improve with better QB play provided by Palmer. The team also spent a good portion of the offseason trying to improve its running game, while the defense is as talented as ever.

Then again, Palmer is coming off an ACL injury and looked shaky Sunday against the Raiders. And while he has been excellent over his last 15 games with the Cardinals, his track record is that of  QB who will make plays, but also some mistakes. An injury to him — or a couple other key players on the team — could very well spell doom for a team that believes its window to win a Super Bowl is open right now.

The Cardinals won 10 games in 2013 and 11 in 2014. Where they’ll finish in 2015 is anyone’s guess, but we’ll get a chance to see what they’re made of on Sept. 13 when they host the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 of the NFL season.

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