While the summer season brings much enjoyment to the average person, for an NFL fan, it represents a desolate wasteland where Sundays just aren't quite as vibrant as in the autumn months. However, with each passing day, we inch closer to the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, which officially kicks off on September 8 this year.
Whether you've had your favorite team's tweet notifications turned on all summer or if you've decided to tune out all football news entirely, you'll be able to learn everything you need to know about your team going into the 2022-23 season right here.
In today's article, I'll be discussing the Arizona Cardinals.
I'm working on season guidebooks for all 32 NFL teams, which will all be released within the next few weeks. To check out another team's guidebook, click here:
2021 Season Recap
2021 looked extremely promising for the Cardinals for the first half of the season, as they were the last team to lose a game during the season. But despite their 7-0 start to the year, Arizona only managed to secure a wild card spot in the playoffs, finishing behind the Rams in the NFC West. The Cardinals met the Rams in that opening round and suffered a 34-11 loss, ending their season prematurely.
Most of Arizona's losses last season came when they struggled offensively, partially due to a nagging injury to DeAndre Hopkins. Kliff Kingsbury has now build somewhat of a reputation on the internet of not being able to close out a season effectively, which is what his team will have to do in 2022 with Hopkins suspended for their first 6 outings.
Significant Roster Moves
Arizona lost several players from last season who they'll surely miss, but they should be able to find adequate replacements for most of them. Chandler Jones is a tough guy to replace on the D-line, even more so with Corey Peters, Jordan Phillips, and Jordan Hicks also not returning.
The offense will be without Christian Kirk and Chase Edmonds this year, which they shouldn't miss too much considering the guys they picked up in the offseason. Arizona traded for Baltimore's Marquise Brown on draft night, which will add depth to the receiving corps while DeAndre Hopkins is out. Darrel Williams will serve as backup running back behind James Conner.
2022 Draft Class
The Cardinals had eight selections in this year's draft, though with five of them coming in the final two rounds, there won't be many immediate contributors to the team. Trey McBride, taken in the 2nd round out of Colorado State, should be used heavily in the passing game as the team's 2nd tight end. However, he may be the only player drafted this year who Cardinals fans will be accustomed to seeing on the field on a regular basis.
The Cardinals will take on the NFC South and the AFC West to go along with their six divisional games. Their other three opponents are the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and New England Patriots. With an opponent prior season win percentage of .543, Arizona has the 2nd hardest schedule in the NFL.
Arizona's primetime games include one Thursday night game versus New Orleans, one Sunday night game versus Tampa Bay, and two Monday night games versus San Francisco and New England.
The Cardinals return 19 of their 22 offensive and defensive starters from a season ago, which is more than average among all teams in the league. Even though Chandler Jones won't be there on the defense, they still have plenty of returning talent and should be able to pick up where they left off last year.
Kliff Kingsbury enters his fourth season as head coach of the Cardinals, a position in which he has improved every season he's been around. He'll control the offense himself, as there is no official offensive coordinator on staff. Vance Joseph and Jeff Rodgers are also seasoned coaching veterans and have been in their roles with the Cardinals for four and five seasons, respectively.
Oddsmakers have set the regular season win total for Arizona at 8.5 games. As of right now, the Cardinals are the 3rd most likely team to win the NFC West and the 8th most likely team to win the NFC. At +4000 to win the 2023 Super Bowl, they are tied for 15th among all teams in the league.
Bucket Squad Predictions
It's tough to make predictions about the Cardinals this season given DeAndre Hopkins' 6-game absence to start the year. But as long as Kyler Murray can get the job done and the offense can be efficient without Hopkins in that time span, Arizona should be in fine shape to compete for a playoff spot. They have a few winnable games in the early stretch, so it's possible they get past those 6 games without being in terrible shape.
I actually think they Cardinals will be good enough in the first part of the season to be set up to have a solid year, or at least be good enough to make the playoffs in a top heavy NFC. I'm picking Arizona to go 10-7 and make it into the postseason as a wild card team.
What do you think? Will Arizona be better or worse than I'm projecting? What offseason moves made by the Cardinals surprised you the most? Leave a comment down below and be sure to check the "NFL" section of the website for more NFL team guidebooks as I finish them.
Written by Nick Swatson
Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.