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ESPN: Cardinals are close to being Super Bowl contenders

Jan 27, 2017, 7:12 AM | Updated: 11:27 am
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) and  Larry Fitzgerald (11)during an NFL football ga...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) and Larry Fitzgerald (11)during an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Arizona Cardinals should be in contention for Super Bowl LII, at least according to an ESPN article that assessed the chances every team not named the Atlanta Falcons or New England Patriots had of making a Super Bowl appearance next season.

Arizona was one of 10 teams placed in the “Should contend, but there are question marks,” category. There were five categories teams were split into, those being, in order: “Nowhere close,” “Lots of work to do,” “Middle of the pack,” “Should contend, but there are question marks,” and “On the cusp of a Super Bowl appearance.”

Josh Weinfuss, who covers the Cardinals for ESPN, wrote this about the Cardinals.

A Cardinals run to Super Bowl LII will depend mainly on wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer. Neither has confirmed his decision to play next season, leaving an outside possibility that Arizona might have to return to the drawing board to rebuild the core of its roster.

Fitzgerald and Palmer are huge variables for Arizona’s success. Fitzgerald is still undecided on whether or not he will return for the 2017 season, even though he led the league in receptions for the second time in his career. Palmer’s play was down a tick from the 2015 season, when he finished second in the league’s MVP balloting. He’ll turn 38 toward the end of the 2017 season, so even if he decides to play, the Cardinals may be well served in trying to identify his long-term replacement this offseason.

But regardless of the status of Fitzgerald and Palmer, the Cardinals still have plenty of talent on their roster. Three Cardinals earned Pro Bowl nods: running back David Johnson, cornerback Patrick Peterson and Fitzgerald, although only Peterson will participate in Sunday’s game. Johnson and Fitzgerald declined invitations due to injury.

As for the rest of the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks accompanied the Cardinals in the “Should contend, but there are question marks” category, while the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers were lower, ending up in the “Lots of work to do” category and the “Nowhere close” category, respectively.

Only four teams fell into the “cusp of a Super Bowl appearance” category: the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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ESPN: Cardinals are close to being Super Bowl contenders