The Arizona Cardinals are gearing up for their season-opener at the Washington Commanders to kick off their 2023 season. And while they don’t look like an incredibly talented team on paper, there are five scenarios that could at least help them make the most out of what looks like Year 1 of a long rebuild.
But there are also situations that could end up with us thinking that the season was about as forgettable as 2018. Below, you will find five scenarios that will make this season a success (to a degree, at least), and five that will probably entice us to watch either those Phoenix Suns or Arizona Coyotes at some point between October and January.
Scenarios that might make or break the Arizona Cardinals 2023 season
Make - Kyler Murray returns early and excels
Even if Kyler Murray returns after four weeks and doesn’t win early, there will be far more optimism in the desert if he at least shows us he fits the new offense and can move it downfield. Between Weeks 5 through 18, Arizona plays 13 games, and even a 3-10 record from Murray makes the season worthwhile if he returns to Pro Bowl form.
This will let the Cards hang on to and pay Murray as opposed to letting him go and still being on the hook for tens of millions of dollars while drafting another quarterback in April. The Cards will then allocate those picks to top players who could provide an immediate impact in the Southwest.
Break - Injuries hit the Cardinals backfield
Injuries can break anyone’s season, but with the Arizona Cardinals looking to run the ball often this year, injuries to James Conner and Keaontay Ingram could be devastating. Conner has never enjoyed a completely injury-free season, and Ingram was already banged up in August, so the red flags are already waving.
Even if there will be backs available in free agency, Conner and Ingram already have built-in chemistry with the offense. And while chemistry is an underrated team attribute, the Cards will be far better off with Conner and Ingram primarily staying out of the trainer’s room.