Mailbag: Projecting Cardinals' record

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Chris from Denver writes: Mike, If Warner is named the starter, what is the record? Your thoughts on Hightower?

Mike Sando: The Cardinals are improved on paper, but their finishing schedule is rough. I could see another 8-8 season, not a step back but an indication the franchise needs to continue building, particularly on the offensive line. The final seven games include the Seahawks (road), Giants, Eagles (road), Rams, Vikings, Patriots (road) and Seahawks.

Let's go through the Cardinals' schedule and project each game on feel:

  1. Win at 49ers

  2. Win vs. Dolphins

  3. Lose at Redskins

  4. Lose at Jets

  5. Win vs. Bills

  6. Lose vs. Cowboys

  7. Bye

  8. Lose at Panthers

  9. Win at Rams

  10. Win vs. 49ers

  11. Lose at Seahawks

  12. Win vs. Giants

  13. Lose at Eagles

  14. Win vs. Rams

  15. Win vs. Vikings

  16. Lose at Patriots

  17. Lose vs. Seahawks

We could go back and forth on a few of these games. The choices I made seemed reasonable. We might give the Cardinals a victory over Seattle in Week 17, but we might also take away the projected home victory over the Giants, who played tough on the road last season, etc. We might give the Cardinals a victory at Carolina, but a home loss against the Vikings, or a split with the Rams and/or 49ers.

Feedback is appreciated. I do like going through and projecting each game. It's a fun but not necessarily reliable way of projecting records. So many other things come into play, from injuries to emotions to the natural ebb and flow of a season.

Guest 49er from the Bay Area writes: Sando, yesterday Mike Martz was putting the badmouth to KGO 7 sport journalist Mike Shuman when [Shuman] asked a simple question. In your own words, was the 49ers QB competition fair? I really don't think it was, and I don't like where the 49ers are going. Should the Yorks really have a short leash ready to oust Nolan by Bye Week? Are the 49ers serious in releasing Alex Smith? There's some rumor articles on the Mercury News about that and I don't like the dark clouds over SF. I fear JT will take us to 3 and 13 if something is not done. Thanks, Mike.

Mike Sando: Martz probably came on a little strong in his comments. The comments seemed incongruent with Mike Nolan's months-long emphasis on a fair competition. However, Martz is right about the league not being fair.

Was the QB competition fair? Probably not. I don't think it's fair to draft a quarterback first overall, change coordinators repeatedly, question the quarterback's toughness, then give an undrafted free agent the best shot at winning the job. However, I fully understand what Nolan and Martz are thinking here. They think O'Sullivan gives them the best chance to win Sept. 7. I do not necessarily disagree.

I see no advantage for the 49ers if they cut Smith this season. The team might need to start him at some point.

Laddy from St. Louis writes: How could the Rams expect to compete by letting Isaac Bruce go and replacing him with some ol' [expletive] WHO WE OVERPAID FOR? Hopefully we (rams) can lose enough games in the beginning of the season so Linehan can get the BOOT. By the way, Bennett is no McCaffrey.

Mike Sando: The Rams picked up Drew Bennett well before they released Isaac Bruce, so I wouldn't say they expected Bennett to replace him. That's what it came to, of course, and it is fair to question this group of St. Louis receivers. I can't imagine what would happen if the Rams lost Torry Holt to injury.

Mike B. from Los Angeles writes: OK, I know this is a long shot, but is there any chance the Seahawks just cut their losses and trade for LS JP Darche? They made a huge mistake in cutting him two years ago and obviously have struggled ever since. Tyler Schmitt looked like the answer, now it looks like his career may be over. I know trades like this don't usually happen, and Tim Ruskell's ego is on the line, but everybody knows the Chiefs aren't going anywhere this year and getting a 7th rounder for a specialist isn't such a bad deal. Can the Seahawks really afford to go into the season with such instability in the kicking game? And, did rookie LS Tim Bugg of Indiana end up on anybody's roster?

Mike Sando: Not going to happen. Signing Jeff Robinson means the Seahawks are set at snapper for now. Darche left Seattle as an unrestricted free agent. Tim Bugg was in camp with the Bengals, but they released him. Chicago and Tennessee are the only teams carrying two snappers, according to roster information I track.

Richard from New York writes: While I understand the need for preserving Nate Burleson's health given the injury issues at WR for the Hawks, is the possibility of injury from returning punts/kickoffs really so high that the Seahawks need to look to someone else for a quality return man? I would have imagined that the threat of injury from returning kicks is not particularly great.

Mike Sando: I don't have injury stats, but my feeling is that kick returns put a player in greater jeopardy. Both sides have a chance to reach full speed before the collisions, and fair catches aren't an option. I think Seattle has other options if depth at receiver is such a concern.

Toby from Granada Hills, Calif., writes: Mike, other than keeping everybody healthy, what are teams trying accomplish in the 4th preseason game? What are your thoughts on reducing it to three? Thanks.

Mike Sando: They want to see if the 54th, 55th and 56th players (etc.) deserve spots among the top 53.