Seattle has proved it’s capable of making the Super Bowl — but with a dominant running back like Marshawn Lynch. Whether all the internal discord is true or not will go a long way toward determining if the Seahawks make the playoffs again.
Compared to the Seahawks, the Cardinals might have a better shot at a run to Super Bowl LII. Their offense is more potent and their defense is younger at the right spots. Beyond that, locker room harmony, guided by a significant veteran presence, can go a long way.
This could be the last season the Cardinals have the trifecta of quarterback Carson Palmer, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and coach Bruce Arians. Compared to the rest of the division, what are the Cardinals’ chances of making a run to Super Bowl LII?
Alden Gonzalez, Los Angeles Rams reporter: I just don’t see a Super Bowl team when I look at the Cardinals. That’s crazy to think, given the 13-3 season they had in 2015 and the hype they carried with them heading into 2016. But let’s go through it. David Johnson is a stud, perhaps the most talented and versatile offensive player in the NFL, but is there enough around him?
Palmer is 37 and had a 58.9 Total QBR that ranked 18th among 30 qualified quarterbacks. Fitzgerald is coming off another great year, but he will be 34 at the end of August and the Cardinals didn’t get much of anything from the rest of their receivers last season.
Then there’s the defense, which lost defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback Marcus Cooper and safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger. The Cardinals did a nice job drafting a talented pass-rusher (Haason Redick) and a versatile safety (Budda Baker). Their offensive line should be better, and it’ll be fun to see Baker team up with a healthy Tyrann Mathieu.
Nick Wagoner, San Francisco 49ers reporter: Comparison to the rest of the division might be damning with faint praise at this point. The Niners and Rams are in rebuild mode, leaving the Cardinals as the most likely challenger to the Seahawks for the NFC West crown. Realistically, though, that would seem to be the ceiling for this Arizona team. The Cardinals had what looks like a strong draft, and the defense should be good, though it will miss Campbell.
But the question that must be answered is the same one that has existed in their recent run of success: Can Palmer lead them to the promised land? Palmer threw for a lot of yards last year but had his worst completion percentage since 2011 and threw more interceptions than he had in a season since 2013. Palmer’s playoff struggles have been well-documented, and it’s hard to see that changing at this stage of his career even if he can get Arizona to the postseason.
Sheil Kapadia, Seattle Seahawks reporter: Even though they lost Campbell and Jefferson, I still like the Cardinals’ defense a lot. First-round pick Reddick and second-round selection Baker should be able to come in and contribute right away.
The question is: Can the Cardinals’ passing game get back to 2015 form? To be effective, Palmer needs the offensive line to make great strides from a year ago, and Arizona might not have done enough up front unless rookies such as Dorian Johnson and Will Holden prove to be quick learners. At the very least, this should be a team that can run the ball and play good defense. Special teams can’t be worse than last year. I’d say they’re a Super Bowl sleeper in the NFC and behind the Seahawks in terms of expectations within the division.