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Cardinals 2022 NFL preview, schedule: Arizona are NFC West contenders despite Hopkins ban

In light of DeAndre Hopkins’ six-game suspension, the Cardinals’ offense will largely depend on what quarterback Kyler Murray can produce.

Estados Unidos
Cardinals season depends on Kyler Murray
Dylan BuellAFP

The Arizona Cardinals generated high expectations during the 2021 NFL season but were eventually eliminated in the Wild Card Round by the Los Angeles Rams. Going into the new campaign things look different in Arizona and the Cardinals are contenders for the NFC West crown.

Prior to training camp, the Arizona team management placed its trust in the continued health and ability of quarterback Kyler Murray (3,787 yards, 24 TDs and 10 INTs in 2021) by awarding him a five-year, $230 million contract extension, which at the time made him the second-highest-paid QB in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers.

With the arrivals of Rashaad Coward and Will Hernandez in free agency, the interior of the offensive line will better protect Murray, who was sacked 31 times in 2021, and help open up holes for the team’s running backs.

Since Kliff Kingsbury was installed as the Cardinals’ head coach in 2019 he has been calling the plays on offense and that will continue to be the case in 2022. Running back James Conner (752 rushing yards, 375 receiving yards) will be the linchpin of the rushing attack after Chase Edmonds’ departure to Miami and the 27-year-old Pittsburgh alum will look to emulate his performance from last year in which he generated 18 touchdowns from scrimmage.

DeAndre Hopkins suspension not a game-changer

Despite star receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ six-game suspension for violating league agreements on performance-enhancing drugs, Kingsbury trusts wide receivers A.J. Green, Marquise Brown, Andy Isabella, Rondale Moore and Marcel Ateman and tight ends Zach Ertz and Trey McBride to provide enough targets for Murray.

One of the weak points of the 2021 Cardinals was the run defense during the second part of the season when the minimum number of yards allowed per game was 103, and a lack of pressure on rival quarterbacks. Arizona recruited defensive ends Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders in the third round of the draft and added linebacker Nick Vigil in free agency to address those issues.

Veterans J.J. Watt, Markus Golden and Devon Kennard on defense will help to bring the best out of youngsters Byron Murphy, Zayen Collins and Leki Fotu.

One of the most difficult points for the Cardinals is their schedule, the second most difficult in the NFL in 2022: the accumulated record of their rivals was 157-132 last year. However, midway through the season the Cardinals will enjoy the benefit of a four-week run at home when they face the 49ers, Chargers and Patriots between weeks 11 and 14, which includes a bye week.

Arizona Cardinals

Record in 2021: 11-6

Stadium: State Farm Stadium

Super Bowl titles: 0

Head coach: Kliff Kingsbury

Defensive Coordinator: Vance Joseph

Cardinals 2022 calendar

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5
vs Chiefsat Raidersvs Ramsat Panthersvs Eagles
Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10
at Seahawksvs Saintsat Vikingsvs Seahawksat Rams
Week 11Week 12Week 13Week 14Week 15
vs 49ersvs ChargersBYEvs Patriotsat Broncos
Week 16Week 17Week 18
vs Buccaneersat Falconsat 49ers