ESPN writer: Cardinals may surprise despite average Super Bowl odds
Remember the 2007 New York Giants?
The team that dropped its first two games before Eli Manning and company won six in a row made the playoffs as a wild card and eventually denied the New England Patriots a perfect season in Super Bowl XLII.
According to ESPN writer Bill Barnwell, the 2017 Arizona Cardinals have more similarities to that team than you may think — other than that the Giants took down Tom Brady in the same place the Cardinals play their home games.
Similar to the 2007 Giants, Barnwell said in his 2017 NFL season preview that this year’s Cardinals are a veteran team that frustrated fans last season but should not be written off.
Barnwell notes the obvious, the Cardinals struggled last season to a 7-8-1 record. In addition, he pointed out the team lost five of their top seven defenders in terms of snaps to free agency this offseason.
But the overall picture might not be as doom and gloom as he appeared to first present.
The cupboard isn’t exactly bare, though, and it’s not difficult to imagine a scenario where the Cardinals are able to restock and keep up on defense thanks to a healthier Tyrann Mathieu, returning veterans like Karlos Dansby, and impact rookies like Haason Reddick and Budda Baker. If the offensive line is healthier and gives Carson Palmer more time to throw, the passing attack could look more like the juggernaut of 2015 than the inconsistent offense of 2016. No team in the league has a wider range of plausible outcomes this season than the Cardinals, which doesn’t bode well for their average performance but fits perfectly in a best-case scenario outlook like this one.
Barnwell presents an interesting and, at least on paper, fairly accurate comparison.
After appearing in the NFC Championship Game in 2015, the 2016 Cardinals failed to live up to expectations.
With a new season set to kick off this Sunday, Sept. 10 against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, the Cardinals’ fate appears to rest on a group of veterans.
Arizona may have All-Pro running back David Johnson, but the offense’s success could rest on the right arm of Carson Palmer. After all, head coach and “quarterback whisperer” Bruce Arians has been known to take a risk or two down the field.
As Barnwell pointed out, if the offensive line can protect Palmer, the 37-year-old veteran gunslinger can be a handful for any defense. In 2015, the passing game was dynamic and the Cardinals finished 13-3. In 2016, a less-potent air game contributed to a down year.
A comparison to the 2007 Giants does not mean the Cardinals are going to win the Super Bowl. In fact, Barnwell listed the Cardinals odds to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy at 2.3 percent.
But this time of year, every team has a shot and Arizona’s chances would look a lot better if the offensive line can keep Palmer upright.