The 2021 offseason has been quite an eventful one for the Arizona Cardinals. Drastic steps were taken by general manager Steve Keim, transactions designed to move the organization closer to a Super Bowl championship. This past week, the Cards became privy to the daunting schedule that stands in the way of the franchise’s first-ever Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Big Red’s first matchup, thanks to the decision-makers in the NFL’s front office, is far from an easy one. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s team, stocked with a bevy of fresh faces, will go on the road to face an extremely-talented Tennessee Titans squad. The Titans are coming off of a season in which they posted an 11-5 record, and managed to secure an AFC South division title as well.
Unfortunately for Tennessee, their stay in the playoffs turned out to be short-lived. Last January 10th, head coach Mike Vrabel ‘s players dropped a 20-13 decision at home to the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens bottled up Titans star running back Derrick Henry, holding the league’s leading rusher to just 40 yards on 18 carries.
Tennessee’s offensive attack will once again revolve around the dynamic Henry this coming fall. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill remains the unit’s commander, with star wide receiver A.J. Brown serving as his number-one target in the passing game. The free-agent defections of pass-catchers such as wideout Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith will certainly be felt, however.
On defense, the Titans are led by tackling machines like safety Kevin Byard and linebacker Rashaan Evans. The biggest offseason addition was edge-rusher Bud Dupree, but the departure of cornerback Malcolm Butler (who coincidentally signed with Arizona) is a significant blow to the Tennessee secondary. The team’s management, hoping to replace Butler, did select Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley during the first round of last month’s draft.
This one’s a tough first assignment for the new-look Redbirds. Tennessee is a playoff-caliber contender who will prove to be too tough to defeat in front of their home crowd. Titans 26, Cardinals 21.