Oct. 14, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) celebrates a field goal against the Buffalo Bills at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals have players with enough talent and respect around the league that usually no matter how horrific the season ends up; it results in a few pro bowlers. In recent years Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson still managed to make it regardless of the team’s final win loss record.
This year could very well be different. I think we will see a few familiar faces and a few new ones. With new head coach, Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer, the offense could return to respectability like 2008 and 2009. I can easily see a well-deserved pro bowl appearance by Fitzgerald based on stats in 2013, not just reputation as in recent years.
Palmer could also make the pro bowl. After all if Fitzgerald makes it based on performance, then it likely means Palmer had another 4,000 yard season with 25+ touchdowns. The key to Palmer making a trip to Hawaii will be how his interception/turnover numbers turn out to be. Palmer needs to take care of the ball and not try to force things that are not there.
On defense there is little doubt in my mind that Peterson will make his third trip to Hawaii in three years. That is an impressive feat to say the least. Now, onto some bolder predictions.
Calais Campbell will finally make his first trip to Hawaii. By returning to a defensive system that suits him, Darnell Dockett will join him as a dominating tandem anchoring that defensive line. New defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, understands the strengths of his team and will put them in situations that utilizes the best of their ability.
Additionally, Tyrann Mathieu the “honey badger” could sneak into a pro bowl his first year as a returner similar to Peterson in his first year. Arians knows Mathieu is a playmaker, and I think he will be put into position to make plays. Arians already stated that both Peterson and Mathieu will be back for punt returns. Punters will not be able to kick it away from the Cardinals. Pick your poison back there, Peterson or Mathieu. I imagine they’d choose Mathieu over Peterson to make him prove it first. The league already knows Peterson.
Finally, the greatest scenario would be that the Cardinals do not have any players making the trip to Hawaii. After all that would mean they’re still practicing as NFC Champions.