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2011 Arizona Cardinals Odds | Preview | Picks

2011 Arizona Cardinals Team Preview | NFL Predictions

If the Arizona Cardinals are going to return to Super Bowl contender form, the key will be the quarterback position. When they had Kurt Warner under center they were a playoff team and the favorite to win the NFC West every year.

2011 Arizona Cardinals Team Preview/Predictions
2010 Record: 5-11
ATS Record: 5-11

Since the former grocery bagger decided to retire, the Cardinals replaced him with one of the worst group of quarterbacks in the NFL; in the process, a nine- or ten-win team became a five- win team.  If the Cardinals had chosen to stick with the Derek Anderson/John Skelton/Max Hall trio, they would have struggled to get any more victories that they got last year.

However, before the lockout started dominating postseason news, the Cardinals were a major player in acquiring a big name free agent quarterback.

By bringing in Kevin Kolb, the Cards should improve their win margin and become a contender in a very winnable NFC West in 2011. This is a step in the right direction for the Cardinals, who markedly regressed without Warner at the controls of the offense.

Looking at just the numbers it would appear the Cardinals don’t have any real strengths outside of perennial pro bowler Larry Fitzgerald, but those numbers are deceiving.

Their defense is a lot better than the stats would seem to indicate. The problem for Arizona was that its defense was always on the field thanks to one of the worst offensive units in the league, if not the worst.

The Cardinals ranked ninth in forcing turnovers, 12th in third-down stops, and 16th in limiting opposing quarterbacks to an 83.55 passer rating. Not exactly the Steel Curtain, but not terrible.

Yet the Cardinals’ greatest strength on defense was scoring touchdowns. In this category, they were the top unit in the NFL, scoring 10 defensive touchdowns. The team next in line in this category was the New England Patriots with five.

Another plus for the Cardinals’ defense was the fact that they drafted LSU’s Patrick Peterson, who some say is maybe the best defensive player in the draft; their defense could be in the top 10 if they just had an average offense to go along with it, to keep them off the field.

Where to start with weaknesses for this franchise? Arizona finished near the bottom of almost every statistical category last season, but the biggest was at the quarterback position. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

The trio of Anderson, Skelton, and Hall combined for a 60.5 QB rating, which was second worst in the NFL, and the team failed to address this need in the draft, even though Kolb will ride into town and give ballast to the offensive side of the ball.

The team in the desert also lacks the explosive runner necessary for head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s offensive system.  Their top running back last campaign was Tim Hightower, who is a free agent to be; Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells has never lived up to his expectations, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry last season.

2011 Cardinals Futures:

Super Bowl Odds: +6550
Conference Odds: +3050
NFC West Odds: +165
2011-2012 NFL Regular Season Wins: 6.5

2011 Cardinals Predictions:

Place they’ll finish in NFC West: 3rd
Place they’ll finish in NFC Conference: 12th

Over/Under Wins Prediction: Under

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About Dave Golokhov AKA Vegas Dave

Dave Golokhov has written for Playboy.com, BETUS Sportsbook, Sportsfanmagazine.com, FOX, Askmen.com, Sports-central, and the FOXSports.com Funhouse.