For the Arizona Cardinals to contend for the playoffs this season, here are the five players who can help make that happen:
Sam Bradford, QB: There's a high likelihood that as goes Bradford this season, so go the Cardinals. If Bradford can stay healthy, he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. And that means the Cardinals could be set up to make a run to 10 wins or even the playoffs. But Bradford hasn't played a full season since 2012, and has suffered two major knee injuries and a shoulder injury throughout his career. But when he was healthy last season, Bradford was one of the best quarterbacks in football. He led the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt, yards per drop back, raw QBR and total QBR after a Week 1 win in which he threw for 346 yards. But he hurt his knee that game and played in just one more the rest of the season. If he can return to that level, Bradford could be the answer Arizona's offense needs. If not, the Cardinals spent their first-round draft pick on QB Josh Rosen. There could be pressure to play Rosen if Arizona's season starts slow, but it's probably better for Rosen and the team for Bradford to stay healthy.
David Johnson, RB: Yes, the quarterback makes an offense tick but there may not be a more important piece to the Cardinals' success this season than Johnson. Just look at last year. He went down in the third quarter of Week 1 and the Cardinals struggled to move the ball and score en route to an 8-8 record. Johnson's presence will take a significant amount of pressure off whoever the quarterback might be. Johnson has a game-changing skillset as both a running back and a receiver that he displayed in 2016. If he can regain that level of performance, Johnson could be a major reason why Arizona returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
D.J. Humphries, LT: One of the keys to Arizona making a run at the postseason is protecting whoever the quarterback is -- especially if it's Bradford. And that responsibility will primarily fall on the broad shoulders of Humphries, Arizona's veteran left tackle. If he can stay healthy himself, Humphries will have a good shot at keeping the quarterback healthy. And if the quarterback is healthy, then Arizona has a shot at making the playoffs. See how this works?
Markus Golden, DE: Chandler Jones is set to be the center of attention for offensive lines this year after leading the NFL with 17 sacks in 2017. That means Golden, who missed 12 games with an ACL injury last season, could find himself one-on-one often, two years after tying for third in the league with 12.5 sacks. Having a two-pronged attack off the edge again could be the boost Arizona's defense needs up front to ignite it under new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb. But having two effective pass-rushers is always better than having one, and two could help make the playoffs a reality.
Brice Butler, WR: If there's one thing that can be counted on to happen next season it's that Larry Fitzgerald will catch more than 100 passes for more than 1,000 yards. However, that won't be enough to propel the Cardinals into the playoffs. He'll need some help from another wide receiver, and that person could be Butler. If Butler could fulfill the second receiver role effectively, then Arizona will have another weapon that can spread out defenses and open, well, everything -- something they didn't have last season. While Fitzgerald is important to Arizona's success this coming season, Butler is more critical because he can force defenses to not double or triple Fitzgerald and pay attention to other receivers.