The 2020 Arizona Cardinals were oh so close to making their first playoff appearance since 2015. Instead, the Cardinals lost their last two games and had to settle for an 8-8 record for the season (gamblingsites.org). The good news for Arizona fans is that QB Kyler Murray took some giant steps forward during his second season at the helm.
What will 2021 have in store for the Cardinals? The front office added some key free agents that could get this team over the hump. However, the NFC West is loaded with talent so Arizona will need to catch a few lucky breaks to have a shot at a playoff berth.
Murray looked more and more comfortable as the season went along last year. The former Heisman Trophy winner tossed 26 touchdown passes and only 12 picks. Murray also terrorized defenses with his speed by scoring 11 touchdowns on the ground in 2020. The 5-10 207 pound Oklahoma alum is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league and is poised for his best-ever season in 2021.
The Cards should have an improved ground game this season since they brought in former Pittsburgh Steeler James Conner during the offseason. Conner appeared in 13 games for Pittsburgh last year and found the end zone six times. Chase Edmonds will also get a few carries on third down this season.
Arizona has plenty of speed to burn at the wideout position. DeAndre Hopkins had a splendid 2020 season by bringing in 115 receptions for 1407 yards and six touchdowns. Long-time Bengal A.J. Green was brought in as a free agent and will be out to prove that he can still be productive at 33 years old. Second-round pick Rondale Moore may not start right away but he’ll be one of the most exciting young rookies to watch in 2021.
The 2020 Arizona defense ranked right at average in most statistical categories. This unit could be much improved this year thanks to the signings of J.J. Watt and Malcolm Butler. Watt will form a deadly pass-rushing combo with Chandler Jones on the defensive line.
Zaven Collins was a fantastic choice for the Cards in the first round of the draft. The former Tulsa star has ideal linebacker size (6-4, 255) and great football instincts. Expect Collins to be a difference-maker both in the pass rush and in coverage as well.
Butler adds some experience to this Arizona secondary. The former New England Patriot and Tennessee Titan will team up with fellow corner Robert Alford to slow down opposing offenses. Budda Baker is a solid free safety that put up great numbers last year (2 interceptions and 118 tackles).
2021 Special Teams
Veteran kicker Matt Prater comes over from Detroit to handle the field goals and extra points for Arizona. Prater struggled a bit in 2020 (Made 21 out of 28 field goals) and is looking for better numbers this season.
Rondale Moore, the rookie from Purdue, should be a dynamic return man for the Cardinals this year. Moore has the speed and ability to make defenders look silly.