The 2023 Arizona Cardinals may be the NFL’s most interesting 1-8 team in a while

The Arizona Cardinals are 1-8 and, barring an eight-game winning streak and a bunch of losing streaks in the NFC, they will be watching the playoffs in January.
Arizona Cardinals v Cleveland Browns
Arizona Cardinals v Cleveland Browns / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

When your team is 1-8, you’re often thinking about the upcoming draft held in the spring. But for the Arizona Cardinals, in some ways, their 2023 season is just starting. With Kyler Murray slated to start this Sunday and perhaps a few reinforcements named James Conner, Emari Demercado, and Michael Wilson, among others, even at 1-8, the Redbirds could be giving their fans something exciting to watch. 

Oftentimes when a team is 1-8, they’re placing guys on season-ending injured reserve and basically putting role players in starting spots to see what they can do. Instead, the Cardinals get to see their (hopefully) franchise quarterback return from the physically unable to perform list, as he looks to end the year on a high note. 

These games won’t be meaningful in a traditional sense, but right now, you have a quarterback in Kyler Murray looking to show the coaches, the front office, and definitely the fanbase that he can perform at a high level in this offense. You also have young guys who have produced well like Wilson and Demercado looking to show they can play significant roles in the offense during the second half of 2023.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback, young players will make last eight games meaningful

Flip over to the defensive side of the ball, and they also have an opportunity to provide some excitement. Rookies like Dante Stills and Garrett Williams are in the same boat as Demercado and Wilson. The common denominator? All of the aforementioned names listed so far, sans Conner, are young guys, but it doesn’t stop there. 

Jalen Thompson, Budda Baker, Kyzir White, Marquise Brown, Krys Barnes, Trey McBride, Rondale Moore, Paris Johnson, Kei’Trel Clark, Leki Fotu, and Zaven Collins are all guys in their 20s who have substantial upside, even if some have underperformed. That said, this Arizona Cardinals team is young and full of more capable players than you may think. 

The roster isn’t playoff-worthy, and that would likely be the case even if Murray were healthy all year and the injury bug didn’t hit the team. But even with the current hand the Cards have been dealt, they will be far more exciting than their record indicates with Murray and some key players getting healthy. 

Interesting is another term you can use here, as this 1-8 squad isn’t full of hopelessness despite suffering their worst loss of the season on Sunday. This also isn’t to say the Cardinals will win many games in the final two months, but it is saying they could show the same kind of fight they showed in most of the first nine games, and perhaps come away with a few hard fought wins.