The 2011 season for the Arizona Cardinals is full of optimism. After one of the most miserable years in recent history for the team, they went out and got Kevin Kolb, who they believe is their franchise quarterback for the next many years. They drafted players that look like will be able to contribute now and for years. Larry Fitzgerald has a new contract that looks like will take him to the end of his career with Arizona. Because of all this, everything looks hopeful.
Does this translate into success? There is no certainty, but this team, based on its schedule, should not think that nine wins and an NFC West championship is out of the question.
Their schedule is, on paper, the weakest in football. Part of that is because of the NFC West. They play teams that are expected to struggle outside of the division (Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals), teams that are in transition but are not expected to be good (Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings) and most of their most challenging games are at home (Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers). I expect nine wins, but anywhere between seven and 10 is completely possible.
Best Game On The Schedule
Looking at the schedule for the Arizona Cardinals, you will see a few very good games. Playing Pittsburgh and Dallas at home are great, will draw crowds and will be good measuring sticks of the team. But if the Cardinals are at least competitive this year, the Week 10 game against in Philadelphia against the Eagles is the headliner. It would pit Kevin Kolb against his former team and Michael Vick. It is a road game against a potentially potent opponent. I would not be surprised to see that game get "flexed" to the Sunday night game.
Breakout Player Candidates
There are a few players that are set for breakout years. At the top of the list should be Beanie Wells, as he is now "the guy" after Tim Hightower was traded and rookie Ryan Williams went down for the year with a knee injury. Receiver Andre Roberts, DE Calais Campbell and LB Daryl Washington are on our watch list, as is O'Brien Schofield.
Best Cardinals Player Others Have Never Heard Of
The best player that outside of Arizona might not be too well known is probably second-year player Daryl Washington. He is a lot like Karlos Dansby. He is fast and always around the ball. Look out for a big year from him.
With the loss of Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston in consecutive offseasons, many will believe that the Cardinals' WR corp is Larry Fitzgerald and crap. I believe the corp will be underrated. Andre Roberts looks like he will be a shorter and younger version of Breaston. Early Doucet, coming out of training camp healthy for the first time in his career, is a Boldin-lite. Chansi Stuckey has shown he is reliable and seventh round pick DeMarco Sampson has been spectacular in camp. Stephen Williams has the tools and potential to be very good.
Fantasy Football Outlook
In fantasy football projections, Kevin Kolb should put up solid numbers because of the Cardinals' pass-heavy offense. Beanie Wells should be a solid pick. He will get almost all the carries this year. At WR, you can't go wrong with Larry Fitzgerald, but Andre Roberts could very well be a solid sleeper.
Best Media Personality In Arizona
In the media, if you want everything Cardinals, there are three go-to guys. Darren Urban of azcardinals.com, Kent Somers from theArizona Republic and Mike Jurecki from XTRA 910 AM are the insiders. Urban and Somers also will also spice things up with some wit.
Best Players To Follow On Twitter
On Twitter, there are many Cardinals players. For the most entertainment, follow Darnell Dockett (@ddockett) and Adrian Wilson (@adrian_wilson24). Careful, though. Dockett might get you riled up, but Wilson is just solid. A very entertaining pair. If you like more intelligent tweeting, Jay Feely is your guy (@jayfeely).