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Are The Cardinals the Worst Team In the NFC West?

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The Cardinals don't figure to finish in front of anyone in the NFC West this season, Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.
The Cardinals don't figure to finish in front of anyone in the NFC West this season, Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

As recently as 2009, the Arizona Cardinals were the toast of the NFC West. They won the division title that year after reaching the Super Bowl in 2008 for the first time in franchise history.  

But their reign was brief, and their decline was swift. After finishing last in the division in 2012 with a 5-11 record, the Cardinals have little hope of doing much better this year. Consider the competition:  

  • The San Francisco 49ers are still the team to beat after capturing the NFC title in 2012. They’re young, their talent is spread evenly across the roster and they have a coach, Jim Harbaugh, who seems to will them to win. Their biggest move this offseason was the signing of 6-1, 218-pound wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who will add an element of physicality to the passing game. But the Niners have done the littler things right, too, such as locking up offensive tackle Anthony Davis, a first-round pick in 2010, with a five-year contract extension.
  • The Seattle Seahawks are the most serious threat to the Niners. After coming within a whisker of reaching the NFC Championship Game in 2012, they have added three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield and a host of depth-improving players this offseason. And did we mention that they have Russell Williams, one of the most dynamic young quarterbacks in the NFL?
  • At 7-8-1, the St. Louis Rams were nothing special in 2012. But they did play relatively well within their division, earning a win and a tie against San Francisco and going 1-1 against Seattle. Look for the 2013 season to go about the same way.  

And the Cardinals? They’ll enter the 2013 season in a deep hole. For one, they don’t have a proven quarterback, having released Kevin Kolb, who was supposed to lead them back to the heights of 2009 but was plagued by injuries during his two seasons in Arizona. And while they’ve signed numerous players this offseason, ranging from guard Chilo Rachal to defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, there isn’t a difference-maker in the bunch.  

On the bright side, Arizona has a new coach, Bruce Arians, with great potential. As interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts last season while Chuck Pagano recovered from leukemia, Arians went 9-3. He was among the hottest head-coaching candidates this offseason, and the Cardinals somehow landed him.   

So that’s one thing that’s gone right.

But Cardinals fans need to be patient. In addition to his QB situation, Arians inherited an offensive line that has allowed an unfathomable 162 sacks since the beginning of the 2010 season and a rushing game that has been nonexistent.

In other words, a lot more things must go right for the Cardinals to make it out of the NFC West cellar.