Going into Week 14, the Cardinals may not be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention yet, but realistically speaking, they are. They have an abysmal 4-8 record and would have the eighth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft if the season were to end today.
In Week 14, they have a challenging matchup against the 6-6 New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. As of this writing, the Cardinals are one-point underdogs at home, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Unfortunately, this isn’t a highly anticipated matchup for many Cardinals fans. The result likely won’t affect their dismal playoff chances, regardless of a win or loss.
Comparison Amongst NFC West
The Cardinals were a tier ahead of the Seattle Seahawks going into the season, but the teams have swapped places. Looking at the NFC West teams, the Seahawks, Rams, and 49ers have bright spots about their respective franchises.
The Seahawks have exceeded expectations and have the Denver Broncos’ first-round pick this year, which could be a top-five selection. The 49ers recently lost Jimmy Garoppolo to injury, but they still have a lot of talent on their roster to make a potential playoff run this season. The Rams have a 3-9 record and have had a more disappointing season, but the fact that they won the Super Bowl last season still puts them ahead of the Cardinals in terms of what position I’d rather be in as an organization.
Unfortunately, there’s not as much optimism when looking at this Cardinals team this season. They need to address some positional holes in the offseason, whether through the draft, free agency, trades, or a combination of the three. Here are their strengths and weaknesses from this season, which can give us better insight into what they need to address this offseason.
Wide Reciever Core
The elite receiving tandem of DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown haven’t gotten to share the field much together. Hopkins served a six-game suspension to start the season. Then, when Hopkins returned, Brown suffered a foot fracture. The pair of receivers is the strength of this Arizona team. Watching them get to play together will be one of the few bright spots of the rest of the season. In addition to Hopkins and Brown, other receivers like Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch also stepped up when called on.
Kyler Murray is having a relatively down season by his standards but is playing well enough to be considered another strength of this Cardinals team. Through ten games played, Murray has thrown for 2,359 yards, 14 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also has 415 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. With DeAndre Hopkins nearing the end of his prime at age 30, the future of this Cardinals offense will be Kyler Murray (age 25), Marquise Brown (25), and Rondale Moore (22).
The Cardinals are allowing the second-highest points per game to opponents at 26.8. Only the Detroit Lions have allowed more at 27.0 points per game. That number is so high from their pass defense, allowing the eighth most passing yards per game at 245.4.
They’re even worse in terms of passing touchdowns allowed. The Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, and Pittsburgh Steelers are all tied for most passing touchdowns allowed at 24.
In the red zone as a whole (both passing and rushing), the Cardinals have the league-worst opponent red zone touchdown percentage at 68.89%. Not only are the Cardinals giving up a ton of yards, but they are failing to stop their opponents when they get close to the endzone. Not a good recipe for success at all.
The Cardinals have a very concerning 1-6 home record. They are somehow worse at home than they are on the road. It’s not a new trend, as they went 8-1 on the road and 3-5 at home last season. There’s an underlying problem in this Cardinals’ roster, which is evident in their lack of wins at home.
If the Cardinals can’t win at home and can’t stop teams on defense through the air or in the red zone, they aren’t going to have much success at all. These are two glaring problems that they need to address this off-season.
After making the playoffs last year with an 11-6 record, expectations going into this season were similar. The Cardinals were retaining the core players responsible for achieving that record. So far, this season has been very underwhelming.