Arizona Cardinals Will Fail To Reach 2022 Playoffs

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In 2020 the Arizona Cardinals started the season 5-2 but stumbled and finished the season with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs. In 2021 the Cardinals started hot again with a 7-0 record and looked like one of the best teams in the NFL. But they went 4-6 down the stretch and finished the season with an 11-6 record. Arizona failed to win the NFC West, but they did make the postseason. However, they promptly suffered an embarrassing 34-11 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion and division rival, Los Angeles Rams. Here is why the Cardinals will fail to make the playoffs in 2022.

Arizona Cardinals Will Not Make 2022 Playoffs

Every season there is at least one team that made the playoffs the previous year but fails to do so the following season. In 2022 one such team will be the Arizona Cardinals. Even if they resolve the animosity between Kyler Murray and the organization, it is doubtful they will reach the postseason this coming season.

Division

The easiest way to a postseason berth for a team is winning the division. But that path for the Cardinals will not be an easy one. To do so they will have to finish ahead of the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams, the talented San Francisco 49ers, who had an impressive 2021 season, and the Seattle Seahawks.

The Rams will likely return many of their important pieces from their Super Bowl-winning team and will absolutely be the team to beat in the NFC West. They may or may not end up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for a second straight season, but with the talent they have on both sides of the ball and Sean McVay at the helm, it is highly likely they repeat as the division champion.

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The 49ers went 10-7 in 2021 and defeated the Dallas Cowboys and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers in the playoffs before losing a really close contest to the Rams in the NFC Championship game. San Francisco will likely be at least as formidable in 2022 as they were in 2021 as long as they get consistent quarterback play. If they retain Jimmy Garoppolo and can continue to win with him, or, more likely, if Trey Lance is the real deal, or if they add someone like Aaron Rodgers (if the Packers are willing or forced to trade Rodgers within the conference) the 49ers would make life very difficult for the Cardinals.

While the Seahawks only went 7-10 in 2021 and missed the playoffs, they are always a tough opponent to play within the division. And if they can convince Russell Wilson to stay and shore up their offensive line, they will once again be a contender in the NFC West.

The AFC West is currently the most talented division in the NFL from top to bottom, but the NFC West is second or third, along with the AFC North. That means the NFC West is the best division, and therefore most difficult to win, in the NFC. The Cardinals path to a division title will be difficult.

Free Agents

The Cardinals have only $2.4 million in projected salary-cap space, so they may have to make some difficult cuts to free up some cap space. They also have some key pieces who are free agents this off-season. Some important position players on offense, including wide receivers Christian Kirk and A.J. Green, tight end Zach Ertz, and running backs James Conner and Chase Edmonds are all free agents this off-season, as is linebacker Chandler Jones.

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It is doubtful that the Cardinals will be able to retain and/or adequately replace all of these players. So, even if Arizona can keep Murray in Arizona and best utilize his skill set, who will be catching passes, besides DeAndre Hopkins, and taking handoffs from the Cardinals quarterback? Hopkins is a special talent and definitely one of the best receivers in the league, but there need to be other options around him. And Kirk and Green were the Cardinals two top receiving options after Hopkins this past season.

Conner rushed for 752 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and added three more touchdowns through the air. And Conner and Edmonds worked really well together. However, the running back position is one with a short shelf life and both backs could be looking for one last nice payday. The Cardinals may not be able to retain either or both of them.

And losing Jones, who had another double-digit-digit sack (10.5) season in 2021, on defense will be an enormous loss. Jones is a talented player at an incredibly important position. If the Cardinals are unable to re-sign Jones that would leave a huge hole in their defense.

Arizona can certainly make some moves this off-season via free agency and the draft to improve their outlook. And the NFC is not as strong as the AFC. But it is doubtful the Arizona Cardinals reach the playoffs in 2022.

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