The Cardinals have heard all the naysayers who think their 2023 season may only yield 3-4 wins. Yet, unpredictability could have Arizona the surprise team of the first half of the NFL season winning five games.
Why The Cardinals Could Surprise With Five Wins
The season opener in Washington will say a lot. A 10:00 a.m. start tends to favor the road teams who travel East versus an East Coast team who travels West. Advantage Cardinals? Maybe, but if there’s any advantage it is tied up to a Week 1 where Arizona has more unknowns than the Bermuda Triangle. Josh Dobbs at quarterback is a variable no one saw coming. Same with Clayton Tune, a certain X factor who will play a big role before all is said and done. Also, head coach Jonathan Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing with the X’s and O’s could keep it interesting.
A win against the Commanders could springboard a shocker two weeks later at State Farm Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas, perpetually overrated with a bad quarterback and even worse coaching, always takes games like this for granted.
In 2006, they lost a Wild Card game to Seattle after having it all but locked up. 2018, a loss to the Los Angeles Rams 22-30 after finishing a scorching 7-1. For the 2021 playoffs, the Cowboys imploded in a loss to San Francisco 17-23.
Dallas is a winnable game if, for no other reason, the Cowboys play their worst football when playing just well enough would do.
The Cardinals Against the NFC West
If the Cardinals win more games than the 49ers, I’ll delete my account and spend $3,500 on limited edition James Conner jerseys https://t.co/eHdIvojQCw
— Josh Larky (@jlarkytweets) July 21, 2023
One week later on November 1, the Cardinals will travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers. Most interesting about the Niners is what the second act of Brock Purdy produces. Last season, he seemed able to do everything right, begging the question: beginner luck or honest goods.
The same can be said for the other two NFC West games they will play on October 15 at the Los Angeles Rams and October 22 at the Seattle Seahawks.
Both the Rams and Seahawks have quarterback issues. In Los Angeles, Matthew Stanford is beyond his years, and it has been reported he is having issues connecting with younger players. Additionally, he has had injury concerns, and now Cooper Kupp is sidelined indefinitely with a hamstring injury.
Seattle, not unlike San Francisco, will get to see if Geno Smith can get it done a second season in a row. The Seahawks could have drafted a quarterback in the first round but took cornerback Devon Witherspoon with the fifth overall selection from Illinois. They also added wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State with the 20th pick in the first round. Seattle did not draft a signal caller in 2023 and is more than willing to stake the season to Smith.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals may be a team able to sneak up in the first nine games and get some wins most say they will not. If Gannon and Petzing employ a rotation at quarterback, it is a gimmick that might work to their advantage. If and when Murray returns, he won’t come back to a house on fire.
The youth up and down the roster is, in many ways, playing with house money. With nothing expected something positive could light the fire in Glendale. The Cardinals won’t make the playoffs or scare anyone on the schedule. What they can do is play hard and let the chips fall where they may. If the Cardinals win five games in the process, then it’s a bonus for the organization moving through 2023.
Main Photo: Phil Masturzo – USA Today Sports