The Arizona Cardinals will go as far as Carson Palmer’s knee will take them.
It’s that’s simple.
The Arizona defense is one of the top defensive units in the league and that will keep most games relatively close. Carson Palmer, if he can stay healthy, is a quarterback who can win those close games. The key issue will be if his knee can hold up after tearing his ACL for the second time in his career at the end of last season, causing him to miss the final seven games.
Palmer initially tore his ACL in the first round of the AFC playoffs against the divisional-rival Pittsburgh Steelers. On the first passing play of the game for Cincinnati, Palmer connected with rookie wide receiver Chris Henry for 66 yards. Unfortunately, that would be the only pass Palmer would complete or throw in the game as defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen was pushed into Palmer’s knee while diving at the quarterback. Not only did Palmer tear his ACL, but also his MCL, meniscus as well as cartilage. Doctors feared it would be career-threatening, but Palmer vowed to be back for the start of the 2006 season and did just that. He finished the 2006 season with 4,305 yards to go along with 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
After spending the first seven seasons with the Bengals, who drafted him first overall in the 2003 NFL draft out of the University of Southern California, Palmer requested and eventually got a trade to the Oakland Raiders. He started in 9 of the 10 games he played in that season. The next season he started all 15 games he played in and again threw for over 4,000 yards again. However, he finished his time in Oakland with an overall record of 8-15.
During the 2013 NFL draft, Palmer was traded yet again this time to the Arizona Cardinals. Palmer led the team to a 10-6 record, but got knocked out in the final week of the regular season in a year that the NFC was loaded. After starting the opening game for Arizona last season (which resulted in a win) he missed the next three games with an injury. His backup, Drew Stanton, filled in nicely, going 2-1. Palmer came back and the Cardinals won the next five games. He threw 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions during the season. On November 14, 2014 Palmer and the Cardinals agreed to a three-year $50 million contract eve tension. On November 16, Palmer re-tore his ACL and missed the final seven games of the season. Once again, Palmer recovered in time to start the 2015 season.
So far in 2015, Palmer has led the Cardinals to a 2-0 record while throwing for 492 yards, seven touchdowns and an interception and has a 93.6 QBR. Larry Fitzgerald had one of his best games in recent memory last week, catching three of the four touchdowns Palmer threw. Palmer is also doing this without one of his other top wideouts in John Brown, who returned last week, but didn’t catch the lone pass that was thrown his way. Next up for the Cardinals is a divisional game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Arizona Cardinals can be one of the top teams in the league and contend for a Super Bowl championship this season, as long as Carson Palmer’s knee will allow them to be.