ARIZONA CARDINALS

Pro Football Focus has Cardinals winning NFC West in 2017

Jun 21, 2017, 9:54 AM | Updated: 3:18 pm
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, right, du...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, right, during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Seattle. The Cardinals won 34-31. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Arizona Cardinals won the NFC West in 2015 with a 13-3 overall record, and after a productive offseason, appeared poised to contend for the division crown in 2016.

They didn’t.

For a variety of reasons the Cardinals sputtered, and though they posted a 4-1-1 record inside the division — a mark that included a win in Seattle — the title went back to the Seahawks, whose 10-5-1 record was better than Arizona’s 7-8-1 mark.

Can the Cardinals reclaim the division?

Their roster will have a different look in 2017, with the departures of, among others, Calais Campbell to Jacksonville, Kevin Minter to Cincinnati, Tony Jefferson to Baltimore, Marcus Cooper to Chicago, Chandler Catanzaro to the New York Jets and D.J. Swearinger to Washington.

In their place are veterans Karlos Dansby, Antoine Bethea and Phil Dawson, along with a rookie class that seems poised to contribute a good amount this season.

Add it all up and according to Nathan Jahnke of ProFootballFocus.com, you have a division champ (and No. 4 seed in the NFC postseason bracket) who finishes with a 10-6 record.

In 2015, the Cardinals were a game away from the Super Bowl. They followed that up with a season where they were top 12 in terms of PFF overall grade for the team, and they scored 50 more points than they allowed, but still ended up with a losing record. They will definitely miss longtime veteran Calais Campbell, but many of the lowest-graded players on the roster are either no longer on the roster or will no longer see playing time unless there is an injury. Winning more close games than they lose should get the Cardinals on the right side of .500, and if Carson Palmer or Tyrann Mathieu is able to return to their 2015 form, Arizona should find their way back into the playoffs.

It’s no doubt a more optimistic view than many have taken of the Cardinals, but it does make some sense.

While the Cardinals struggled in 2016, it was not as if they were getting blown out of the water. A few made field goals and/or a good bounce or two, and chances are they would have had a few more wins under their belt.

And even with the defections they sustained, Jahnke notes, it is not as if the Cardinals lack talent.

It should be noted that the Cardinals are not predicted to run away with the NFC West as they did in 2015, because Jahnke has the Seahawks also finishing with a 10-6 record.

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Pro Football Focus has Cardinals winning NFC West in 2017