2014 NFL Power Rankings Countdown
11. Arizona Cardinals (NFC West)
2013 Record: 10-6
Head coach: Bruce Arians – Arians did another outstanding coaching job last season as he resuscitated the Arizona Cardinals from mediocrity to nearly making the playoffs in the tough NFC West division. Arians got the Cardinals offense back on track and the defense has become on of the league’s best. But can Arians get the Cardinals into the playoffs? I wouldn’t doubt that he could.
Best offensive player: Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver – Fitzgerald has consistently been one of the top NFL wide receivers for a while now, and he continues to give the Cardinals a reliable target in their passing game. His size and strength make him hard for defenses to stop, and he may be in store for a big year in his second season in Arians offense. NFL Power Rankings
Best defensive player: Patrick Peterson, cornerback – The 6’1, 219 pound Peterson epitomizes the prototypical big NFL cover corner that’s all the rage in the NFL. But not only is Peterson a big corner, he also has outstanding speed and change of direction skills. He adds to this impressive package with great kick and punt return skills as well.
Rising Star: Michael Floyd, wide receiver – Floyd had his coming out season in 2013. After a so-so rookie season in 2012, Floyd emerged to lead the Cardinals in receiving yards last year with 1,041. Floyd’s size at 6’2, 220, along with Larry Fitzgerald gives the Cardinals a set of big and strong wide receivers that make it tough for secondaries to handle.
Best new addition: Jared Veldheer, left tackle – Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer suffered 41 sacks last season and even more hits as well. So they had to go out and upgrade their pass protection. The Cardinals signed one of the top free agent left tackles on the market in Jared Veldheer, and he should have an immediate impact on the Cardinals pass protection woes. NFL Power Rankings
Biggest offseason loss: Karlos Dansby, inside linebacker – Dansby had a monster season last year, leading the team in tackles with 122. He also had 6.5 sacks and 4 interceptions on the season. He signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Browns, and that type of production is going to be hard for the Cardinals make up for.
Biggest strength: The Cardinals biggest strength is their secondary. The Cardinals have one of the best cover corners in the game in Patrick Peterson. They signed Antonio Cromartie in free agency, giving them a nice tandem at corner. Tyrann Mathieu had a solid rookie season at safety, and should improve once he return from a torn ACL. The Cardinals also drafted strong safety Deone Bucannon in the first round of the draft and he should pair up with Mathieu to make up good combination at safety. NFL Power Rankings
Biggest weakness: The Cardinals biggest weakness is inside linebacker. The Cardinals lost their leading tackler Karlos Dansby in free agency and their other starter from last season Daryl Washington has been suspended for a year after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. And you just can’t lose two pro bowl caliber players at one position without your defense being effected by it.