The Arizona Cardinals have made good progress during Kliff Kingsbury’s time with the team. They have increased their number of wins each season and are poised to do so again in 2021.
Heading into his third season as head coach, there is some pressure for Kingsbury’s team to take that next step. There is a lot of talent on the team, but they have to put things together for a full season.
Last season, Arizona started the season 6-3, but limped to the finish line and finished 8-8. Part of that had to do with Kyler Murray’s nagging injury. He still started all 16 games but was not the same the last seven games of the season.
What can we expect from the Cardinals this time around? Here are five bold predictions for Arizona’s 2021 season.
5. Isaiah Simmons Breaks Out
The Arizona Cardinals used the 8th overall pick on Isaiah Simmons last season. Simmons had a solid first season with 54 tackles, four for loss, with three quarterback hits, two sacks, two passes defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one interception.
When you consider that he played only 34 percent of the team’s defensive stats, Simmons is a breakout candidate in 2021. With a starting spot alongside rookie Zaven Collins likely at linebacker, the former Clemson Tiger is going to have a big season.
Simmons is extremely versatile and will showcase that in his sophomore season. He is going to stuff the stat sheet as a pass rusher, rack up big tackle numbers and provide some playmaking as a pass defender as well.
4. Multiple 1,000 Yard Rushers
One of the things that derailed the Arizona Cardinals in 2020 was Kyler Murray’s nagging shoulder injury. That limited his rushing ability, which was integral to the team’s success moving the ball on offense.
Looking healthy coming into 2021, Murray will eclipse the 1,000 mark, something he was on pace to do easily during the first half of the season. He will be joined by Chase Edmonds, who will be taking over as the team’s lead back this season.
James Conner was signed in the offseason as well to bolster the backfield, but he will be the second option behind Edmons.
3. A.J. Green Gets Back Over 1,000 Yard Receiving
A.J. Green left the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason, signing with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are hoping that he has something left in the tank after some underwhelming seasons with the Bengals.
But, the most important thing for Green has been his health. After missing the entire 2019 season, he was able to play in all 16 games in 2020. The stats weren’t great, but proving he can stay healthy was big.
This season, in the air raid offense, Green will see his production get back on track. He will surpass the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time since 2017, showing he still has something in the tank to offer.
2. Kyler Murray Wins MVP Award
Kyler Murray is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL. Despite the injury that he dealt with last season, he still saw an increase in his production across the board.
His completion percentage went up to 67.2 with 3,971 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. He upped his rushing totals to 891 yards and 11 scores as well. In 2021, he will take another step and win the MVP award.
Murray will set career-highs across the board again, passing for at least 4,200 yards and as predicted earlier, surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing mark. With 45 combined touchdowns, Murray will take home the MVP award for the 2021 season.
1. Cardinals Win At Least One Playoff Game
The Arizona Cardinals are in the toughest division in the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are all playoff-worthy teams, making for great competition in the NFC West.
The Cardinals will finish the season with 11 wins, which will fall just short of the division title. However, given how battle-tested they will be from the regular season, they will win at least one playoff game this season.
Depending on how the standings shake out, the Cardinals could be a dark-horse Super Bowl contender with their improved defense and MVP-performing quarterback.