An initial glance at the research on whether the Cardinals can be a top 15 team gives a bleak result. Most top sites have the Cardinals ranked in the lower twenties as far as power rankings go. You can try and use Carson Palmer as a knight in shining armor as he is a better quarterback than anyone the Cardinals utilized the last two seasons. With a longer look though, Palmer had a low QBR (Not the best indicator) rating considering his 4,000 yard season.
When looking at all 32 teams I noticed the AFC has a gap in each division as prevalent as Michael Strahans turnbuckle. The NFC is more tight knit when judging productivity for the season. This helps those who want to argue that the Cardinals are a top 15 team but my rebuttal is also my first example as to why they are not a top 15 team.
The lack of AFC talent does open a door for the Cardinals to be a top 15 team but they haven’t shown that the newly re-vamped roster is as good as it looks on paper. They’re un-tested and so with each reporting question mark, they are just that a un-proven question mark of a team.
They haven’t had an injury bug infestation like other teams but it’s still early and Rashard Mendenhalls knee will need year long treatment as will Dan Williams ankle and knee. They would likely fail a lie-detector test if they said they were 100% any time during the season. More injuries are likely to come for every team but the run game is important to Coach Arians system and the Cardinals run-game is unproven. The depth at defensive tackle is shallow for a vital position and Williams is a under the radar impact player.
All off-season there were mixed reports and reactions to the o-line restructuring or lack thereof. Just like the entire team, the potential on paper is above average. On the other hand the signing of Winston may indicate they aren’t as close to the potential desired and the shuffling of positions and players isn’t a good sign.
The Cardinals are likely a team to be just above .500 but they will have to perform extremely well as they have a lot stacked against them. They should take solace if they have an 8-8 season or better as it will be a success and they could steal a wild card spot in the playoffs with 8-8. The top 15 teams have had a better record than 8-8 in the past 3 seasons.