The 2013 NFL season is upon us, and here in Arizona, that means a new regime. Steve Keim took the reins of the general manager position after Rod Graves was shown the door. Keim hired Bruce Arians as head coach and the two engineered a roster rebuild that brings 26 new players to the desert.
We've asked 19 football-crazed members of the staff at Arizona Sports 620, ArizonaSports.com and News Talk 92.3 KTAR to peer into their crystal balls and predict not only what will happen with the 2013 Arizona Cardinals, but the rest of the National Football League as well.
Enjoy, and happy football season!
What will the Cardinals' record be in 2013?
8-8: 6 votes
7-9: 5 votes
6-10: 7 votes
5-11: 1 vote
None of our 17 respondents has the Cardinals achieving a winning record, and none has them reaching the postseason. Bryan Gibberman, the producer of The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta, has the Cards going just 5-11.
Who will be the Cardinals' leading rusher in 2013?
Rashard Mendenhall: 15 votes
Stepfan Taylor: 2 votes
Ryan Williams: 2 votes
Mendenhall, the free agent pickup from Pittsburgh, garnered the most votes with 15, including one from Arizona Sports tech director Jarrett Carlen, who thinks the veteran will run for 1,104 yards. Four panelists picked Mendenhall to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark and one picked the rookie Taylor to accomplish the feat.
How many TD passes will Carson Palmer throw in 2013?
17 TD passes: 1 vote
18 TD passes: 2 votes
22 TD passes: 1 vote
23 TD passes: 1 vote
24 TD passes: 4 votes
25 TD passes: 1 vote
27 TD passes: 1 vote
28 TD passes: 4 votes
31 TD passes: 1 vote
33 TD passes: 1 vote
KTAR.com's Carter Nacke has Palmer on the low end of the spectrum with 17 touchdowns while Paul Calvisi has the veteran pegged for 33 scoring strikes. A couple things to consider: Palmer's career-high is 32 and Cardinal quarterbacks combined to throw 11 TDs last season.
How many sacks will the Cardinals allow in 2013?
Our answers ranged from 20 on the low end (from Arizona Sports 620 executive producer Ryan Lindsay) to 46 on the high end (from ArizonaSports.com's Jules Tompkins.) The good news is, all 19 respondents believe the Cardinals will improve on the 58 sacks they allowed a season ago.
How many receiving yards will Larry Fitzgerald have in 2013?
Eighteen of our 19 respondents believe that Fitz will have a bounce-back season in 2013 after having just 798 yards last year. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the belief that the Cardinals finally have a quarterback that can get #11 the football again.
The one panelist who doesn't think Fitzgerald will get a least 1,000 yards? Ryan Lindsay, who has got him pegged for only 900. Jules Tompkins is the most optimistic about Fitz's prospects and projects a monster season of 1,550 yards, which would be a career high.
The average number of yards projected by our crew: 1,210.
Who will have the most QB sacks for the Cardinals in 2013, and how many will he have?
Calais Campbell: 10 votes
John Abraham: 8 votes
Daryl Washington: 1 vote
This category was a three-horse race. Nine of our panelists think veteran defensive end Calais Campbell will lead the team with anywhere from 7.5 to 11 sacks. Eight others believe that veteran pass rush specialist John Abraham will lead with a total ranging from seven to 11 sacks. Only Bryan Gibberman thinks linebacker Daryl Washington will again lead the team in sacks -- D-Wash had nine a year ago.
One bold Cardinals prediction for 2013?
Franz: Cardinals will make the playoffs...but not until the 2014 season.
Calvisi: Cardinals will sweep the 49ers.
Bickley: Cardinals will enter the Week 17 still in playoff contention.
Marotta: Cardinals will have a winning road record.
Gambo: Carson Palmer won't be healthy for 16 games, Drew Stanton will start at least two games.
Burns: Cardinals will not get swept by Seattle and San Francisco -- they'll win at least one of those games.
Powell: Outside linebackers coach James Bettcher will be abducted by aliens during the second quarter of the fifth game of the season.
Bloom: The Cardinals will be 4-4 at the midway point of the season.
Grialou: Ryan Williams will play in all 16 games this year.
Green: Rob Housler will be second on the team in TD receptions.
Dulberg: Arizona will lead the league in takeaways.
Bassett: Patrick Peterson will have six touchdown receptions.
Nacke: Carson Palmer will make Cards fans believe in QBs again.
Lindsay: Tyrann Mathieu will be the Defensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL.
Byrd: Heading into Week 17, the Cardinals will still be in Wild Card contention.
Gibberman: By the end of the year, Andre Ellington will be the Cardinals' best RB.
Carlen: Cardinals will beat the 49ers and Seahawks at least once each.
Tompkins: Rob Housler will lead the team in TD receptions.
San Francisco 49ers: 10 votes
Seattle Seahawks: 9 votes
No real surprise here...San Francisco and Seattle are two of the big favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in New Jersey come February. Interestingly, 10 of our panelists think the Cardinals will finish third in the division, while nine see Bruce Arians' team bringing up the rear.
Atlanta Falcons: 12 votes
New Orleans Saints: 6 votes
Carolina Panthers: 1 vote
The Falcons are once again the popular pick in the South, but almost a third of our respondents think Sean Payton's return to the Big Easy will mean a division crown for the Saints. The only person to pick Carolina? Bryan Gibberman.
Green Bay Packers: 18 votes
Detroit Lions: 1 vote
Almost unanimous! The only panelist to go out on a limb and pick a team other than Green Bay was KTAR digital honcho Tyler Bassett who likes the Detroit Lions this season.
New York Giants: 6 votes
Philadelphia Eagles: 6 votes
Washington Redskins: 4 votes
Dallas Cowboys: 3 votes
The NFC East was ultra-competitive last season, and our panel expects the same in 2013. Six are buying what Chip Kelly is selling in Philadelphia, but all four teams received votes to win the East crown.
Seattle Seahawks: 8 votes
San Francisco 49ers: 4 votes
Atlanta Falcons: 3 votes
Green Bay Packers: 2 votes
New Orleans Saints: 1 vote
Washington Redskins: 1 vote
The strength lies in the West, with 12 of our 19 voters saying either Seattle or the Niners will represent the conference in the Super Bowl. New Orleans got some love from Arizona Sports producer Jordan Byrd and tech director Jarrett Carlen likes RGIII to lead the Redskins to their first Super Bowl since the 1991 season.
Denver Broncos: 19 votes
Unanimous! Nobody was scared off by Von Miller's six-game suspension, and it's hard to argue after Peyton Manning and the Broncos dismantled the Baltimore Ravens on opening night.
Houston Texans: 16 votes
Indianapolis Colts: 3 votes
Sixteen of our panelists like the Texans to complete the AFC South three-peat, while Dave Burns, Dave Dulberg and Jules "Don't Call Me Dave" Tompkins like Andrew Luck and the Colts to continue their ascent.
Cincinnati Bengals: 14 votes
Baltimore Ravens: 5 votes
Interestingly, only five like the defending Super Bowl champs to win the North, while 14 are going with the always-improving Bengals. And now that John Skelton has been cut, their chances probably just increased. Too soon?
New England Patriots: 16 votes
Miami Dolphins: 2 votes
Buffalo Bills: 1 vote
Despite losing Wes Welker to free agency and Aaron Hernandez to incarceration, the vast majority of our panel is going with the Pats to rule the AFC East. Vince Marotta and Tyler Bassett both like the Miami Dolphins to surprise, while Arizona Sports' Chuck Powell thinks it's the Buffalo Bills who will reign supreme. Notice nobody picked the Jets?
Denver Broncos: 12 votes
Houston Texans: 3 votes
Cincinnati Bengals: 2 votes
New England Patriots: 2 votes
The power lies in the West in the AFC, too. Twelve of our panelists like the Orange Crush to get back to the promised land for the first time since John Elway hung up the cleats.
Super Bowl Champions
Denver Broncos: 5 votes
Seattle Seahawks: 5 votes
San Francisco 49ers: 4 votes
Atlanta Falcons: 2 votes
Green Bay Packers: 1 vote
Houston Texans: 1 vote
New England Patriots: 1 vote
The Seahawks and the Broncos both got the most love from the panel. In fact six picked the two to meet in the Super Bowl -- by far the most common prediction. John Gambadoro and Doug Franz both like the Atlanta Falcons to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time in their team history.
Peyton Manning - QB, Denver: 9 votes
Aaron Rodgers - QB, Green Bay: 3 votes
Russell Wilson - QB, Seattle: 3 votes
Drew Brees - QB, New Orleans: 2 votes
Tom Brady - QB, New England: 1 vote
Colin Kaepernick - QB, San Francisco: 1 vote
Think the NFL is a QB-driven league? Six different signal callers got votes in this category, while no other position received a vote -- even though the reigning MVP, Adrian Peterson, is a running back.
Offensive Player of the Year
Peyton Manning - QB, Denver: 6 votes
Aaron Rodgers - QB, Green Bay: 4 votes
Drew Brees - QB, New Orleans: 2 votes
Calvin Johnson - WR, Detroit: 2 votes
Dez Bryant - WR, Dallas: 1 vote
LeSean McCoy - RB, Philadelphia: 1 vote
Adrian Peterson - RB, Minnesota: 1 vote
Matt Ryan - QB, Atlanta: 1 vote
Russell Wilson - QB, Seattle: 1 vote
A lot more variety in this category, including votes for two different wide receivers. Calvisi likes Dallas' Dez Bryant to break out, while Powell and Arizona Sports' Adam Green like Detroit's Calvin Johnson to pick up where he left off in 2012. No wide receiver has won the award since San Francisco's Jerry Rice in 1987.
Defensive Player of the Year
J.J. Watt - DE, Houston: 6 votes
Luke Kuechly - LB, Carolina: 5 votes
Geno Atkins - DT, Cincinnati: 1 vote
Jarvis Jones - LB, Pittsburgh: 1 vote
Chris Long - DE, St. Louis: 1 vote
Clay Matthews - DE, Green Bay: 1 vote
Richard Sherman - CB, Seattle: 1 vote
Aldon Smith - OLB, San Francisco: 1 vote
Patrick Willis - LB, San Francisco: 1 vote
Six panelists like Watt to repeat as the DPOY, while five like Carolina tackling machine Luke Kuechly to become the first Panther ever to win the hardware. Nobody has repeated as the winner since Lawrence Taylor in 1981 and 1982. Gutsiest pick? Jules Tompkins likes Pittsburgh rookie Jarvis Jones.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
EJ Manuel - QB, Buffalo: 8 votes
Tavon Austin - WR, St. Louis: 6 votes
Tyler Eifert - TE, Cincinnati: 2 votes
Cordarrelle Patterson - WR, Minnesota: 2 votes
Montee Ball - RB, Denver: 1 vote
Eddie Lacy - RB, Green Bay: 1 vote
A quarterback has won this award three years in a row and four out of the last five and eight of our panelists feel that trend will continue with their selection of Buffalo's EJ Manuel.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Jarvis Jones - LB, Pittsburgh: 7 votes
Tyrann Mathieu - DB, Arizona: 3 votes
Dion Jordan - OLB, Miami: 2 votes
Alec Ogletree - LB, St. Louis: 2 votes
Ziggy Ansah - DE, Detroit: 1 vote
Barkevious Mingo - LB, Cleveland: 1 vote
Eric Reid - S, San Francisco: 1 vote
Sheldon Richardson - DT, NY Jets: 1 vote
Kenny Vaccaro - S, New Orleans: 1 vote
Linebackers have won this award in nine of the last 10 years. The only exception was Detroit DT Ndamukong Suh, who won the hardware in 2010. Third round pick Tyrann Mathieu of the Cardinals got three votes and has received plenty of recognition from the national media during the preseason. It's also interesting to note that three LSU products (Mathieu, Mingo and Reid) got votes. Yeah, they play some pretty good defense in Baton Rouge.
Coach of the Year
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia: 6 votes
Sean Payton, New Orleans: 4 votes
Pete Carroll, Seattle: 2 votes
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati: 2 votes
Andy Reid, Kansas City: 2 votes
John Fox, Denver: 1 vote
Doug Marrone, Buffalo: 1 vote
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis: 1 vote
Almost 38 percent of our respondents think the brash, offensive-minded Chip Kelly will succeed in his first year with the Eagles after spearheading the "fast-break" offensive show at the University of Oregon for the last four years.
One bold NFL prediction for the 2013 season?
Wolfley: The Ravens will set an NFL record for sacks in a season.
Franz: The Dolphins won't be eliminated from playoff contention until Week 17.
Calvisi: Defensive coordinators devise game plans to keep Colin Kaepernick in the pocket and we discover that the SF QB can't read NFL coverages. Kaepernick becomes the next Tim Tebow.
Bickley: Chip Kelly leads the Eagles to the playoffs.
Marotta: Miami wins the AFC East.
Gambo: Jets fire Rex Ryan and hire Bill Cowher.
Burns: Colin Kaepernick takes a step back.
Powell: Aaron Hernandez escapes prison and catches 11 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown for the Bears as the mysterious, mustachioed, blonde-haired Deitr Von Kamp.
Bloom: Chip Kelly's offense leads the Eagles to the playoffs and Philly is the team that keeps the streak alive -- 11 straight years a team goes from worst to first.
Grialou: Jason Garrett will be fired midseason by the Dallas Cowboys.
Green: The Jacksonville Jaguars will find their QB of the future -- and it will be Matt Scott.
Dulberg: Tampa Bay's Doug Martin will lead the league in rushing.
Bassett: Saints make the NFC Championship Game and will have the MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year.
Nacke: The Raiders will win one game. Oakland will not riot.
Lindsay: Rex Ryan will be fired before the end of the season.
Byrd: After Rex Ryan is fired in NY, he'll be hired to replace Jason Garrett in Dallas.
Gibberman: The Bills will be decent.
Tompkins: The Philadelphia Eagles will go 2-14.
Carlen: The Bills will make the playoffs.