ESPN’s Mike Sando has announced his predictions for all 256 regular season NFL games, including the Arizona Cardinals going 8-8 to finish the season.
Sando’s analysis relies heavily on the performance of Carson Palmer, citing that if Palmer is better “at this stage of his career,” then the Cardinals will be too.
However, Sando’s predictions are off the mark — way off.
Against the NFC West
Sando has the Cardinals going 5-1 in their division, but still coming in 2nd to the Seahawks in the standings. I’d say they go 4-2 in the division, but still grab the 6th seed.
Sando’s predictions include the Cardinals losing to the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 10, but beating the Seahawks on the road in Week 17.
The first half of that prediction is realistic, but beating the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field is no easy feat. Considering that it is the last game of the regular season and assuming that the Seahawks will have already clinched the division, they would be resting key players, which would give the Cardinals the advantage.
This is one game that could go either way, but the Cardinals could still lose in Seattle to round out the regular season.
As far as the rest of the NFC West, Sando has the Cardinals beating the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams in all matchups this season.
These are two of the weaker teams in the NFL and honestly, the 49ers and the Rams don’t stand a chance against the Cardinals or the Seahawks.
Against the NFC East
Sando has the Cardinals going 0-4 against the NFC East, but they’re more likely to break even.
The 8-8 prediction includes the Cardinals losing to all four NFC East teams and gives each NFC East team at least nine wins for the season. This would put the entire NFC East above the Cardinals in the standings.
The NFC East division always provides good matchups and can be difficult wins. Difficult, but not impossible. There’s no way the entire division beats the Cardinals.
More realistically, the Cardinals will take a Week 3 (home opener) loss to the Dallas Cowboys and a Week 16 home loss to the Giants, but take road wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins.
Against the rest
The remaining matchups were all toss ups. Sando has the Cardinals at 3-3 to end the season at 8-8.
Week 1 – at Lions and Week 6 – vs. Buccaneers
Sando has the Cardinals taking a loss in the season opener. While there is a lot of hype around Matt Stafford right now, contract size does not correlate to success on the field.
The Cardinals will be working out some defensive kinks in the first game, but they should still pull away with a close win.
Sando also has the Cardinals taking a loss to the Buccaneers. He is placing his bet on Jameis Winston, but cites him as a Tier 3 quarterback. Even with Carson Palmer possibly declining, he’s not a Tier 3 quarterback and will pull ahead of Winston.
Week 2 – at Colts, Week 12 – vs. Jaguars
These are the few instances where I agreed with Sando’s predictions.
Week 11 – at Texans and Week 14 – vs. Titans
The loss to the Texans is another puzzling choice by Sando. He chose the Texans to only have seven wins this season, but chose them to beat out the Cardinals.
This places the Cardinals in the same category as the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts.
He also has the Cardinals beating the 11-win Titans in Week 14. That’s another game that could go either way for now. As the season progresses, the Cardinals could pull away from the Titans and be the better team, but there’s too much unknown this far out.
The Cardinals might have some defensive shoes to fill and Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson can’t do it alone on the offense. But, they’re better than an 8-8 team. Possibly dreaming, but a healthy Cardinals team is an 11-5 team. Realistically, they’re 10-6 and the sixth seed in the NFC.
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