It's less than 24 hours now until the 2016 NFL season officially begins for all the 32 teams in the league, but only one of them will be crowned Super Bowl champion come February next year at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Two teams will eventually have a chance to battle it out in the Big Game, and it's a tough task for anyone to determine which two teams they will be. However, the NFC representative in the game will be the Arizona Cardinals.
They came close last season, losing 49-15 to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game, but they're going to be able to go one step further this season for several different reasons. This will be the first time they have attended a Super Bowl since they played against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Super Bowl XLIII.
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We all know the phrase 'offense wins games, defense wins championships'. Well, the Cardinals have both of those in abundance. Let's start off with the offense.
Quarterback Carson Palmer is playing at the best level he ever has and despite being 36-year-old and with an injury history, the offense around him should keep him playing at his peak. Last season was his best in his 12 season career to date with 4,671 passing yards for 35 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 104.6.
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This contributed towards the 2015 Cardinals achieving the most yards on average per game in the entire league with an average of 408.3 yards, and having a total of 489 points on offense, the second highest in the NFL last season.
With offensive weapons around him such as wide receivers Michael Floyd, John Brown, and Larry Fitzgerald, as well as dynamic running back David Johnson that can be effective on passing downs too, there's no reason why this offense can't run up the score against any team they play this season. So long as Palmer stays healthy that is.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals' defense is already one to be admired. Lead by defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, the NFC West side has one of the best defenses in the league.
Their only shortcomings last season was their pass rush, which they appeared to have sorted out this offseason by acquiring linebacker Chandler Jones from the New England Patriots, who earned his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2015. Expect a lot more sacks from the Cardinals in 2016.
With the Honey Badger's knee looking fully healed as well, this defense is looking strong entering the new season, and one that many opposing offenses will struggle to beat.
Under the guidance of head coach Bruce Arians, who has been 34-14 during his three years in Arizona so far, there's no reason why the Cardinals can't go on and be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl this season.
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