NFL Team Preview: 2020 Arizona Cardinals
BY ADAM GREENE
Key Additions: WR DeAndre Hopkins (via trade), DL Trevon Coley (free agent), LB De’Vondre Campbell (free agent), LB Devon Kennarde (free agent), DL Jordan Phillips (free agent)
2020 NFL Draft: LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (round 1), OL Josh Jones, Houston (round 3), DT Leki Fotu, Utah (round 4), DT Rashard Larence, LSU (round 4), ILB Evan Weaver, California (round 6), RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State (round 7)
Projected offensive starters: QB Kyler Murray, RB Kenyan Drake, WR DeAndre Hopkins, WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR Christian Kirk, TE Maxx Williams, LT D.J. Humphries, LG Justin Pugh, C Mason Cole, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Josh Jones
Projected defensive starters: LDE Zach Allen, NT Jordan Phillips, RDE Corey Peters, WLB Chandler Jones, LILB Jordan Hicks, RILB Isaiah Simmons, SLB Devon Kennard, LCB Patrick Peterson, RCB Byron Murphy Jr., SS Jalen Thompson, FS Budda Baker
PK: Zane Gonzelez
P: Andy Lee
Head Coach: KliffKingsbury
2019 Record: 5-10-1, 4th place NFC West
A look back: The Arizona Cardinals were competitive all throughout 2019 in spite of finishing with a losing record. Six of their 10 losses were by one score or less and many of those were against quality teams that finished with winning records like the Baltimore Ravens, the Los Angeles Rams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers.
Over their final month of the 2019 season, the Cards went 2-2 with wins over the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks and lost by six to the Steelers and by seven to the Rams.
2020 projection: This is a team that should be better in every phase of the game. The free agents Arizona added are immediate upgrades over the guys they replaced and the acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver can not be understated. They now have the best WR in the NFC West, at the very least, if not the entire NFC.
Murray completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 picks in his rookie season, adding 544 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Running back David Johnson was a non-factor and, at worst, Drake should pick up where he left off last season when he was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins and started the final eight games of the year.
On defense, the addition of Simmons should reap rewards immediately. This unit will give up points, but all they need to be is respectable for the Cardinals to have a significantly better season.
The NFL scheduling system is set up for teams coming off losing records to have an easier go of it the following year. It’s why there are always multiple new playoff teams and other squads drop out. Over the first two months of the 2020 season, Arizona plays just two teams that finished over .500 in 2019 and only half their schedule is against teams that posted a winning record last season.
The problem is, six of those games are against teams in their own division who did nothing to make matters easier for the Cards this year.
Projected 2020 final record: 9-7 Currently, the Cards at over 7.5 wins in 2020 pays at -120 and betting on 5-9 victories pays at -200