Today's question: In what ways does Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, coming off another ACL injury, scare other NFC West teams?
Nick Wagoner, St. Louis Rams: I'm not sure at this stage Palmer does anything that really "scares" teams, at least not him personally. But what's more notable is what his presence means for the Cardinals as a whole. It’s pretty clear that Arizona is good enough defensively and has enough pieces on offense to be a legitimate contender when it has a quarterback capable of getting the ball down the field. Palmer brings a veteran presence who isn’t prone to big mistakes and can connect on the deep ball. He shredded the Rams in 2013, averaging nearly 300 yards per game in two matchups and might have reached that number again last year had he not suffered a torn ACL in the first meeting between the teams. The Rams still lost to Arizona twice last season but both games were close in the fourth quarter. When Palmer was fully healthy late in 2013, he led the Cardinals to an easy 30-10 win.
Paul Gutierrez, San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers never saw Palmer last season, losing to Drew Stanton in Week 3 at Arizona and beating Ryan Lindley in the regular-season finale in Santa Clara. You’d have to go back two years to the last time the Niners saw him. They beat Palmer twice even though he threw for 705 yards on 53-of-90 passing with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Alas, two years ago is a lifetime for this Niners defense, which returns just four starters from that first meeting -- nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman and free safety Eric Reid. Plus, the 49ers are breaking in a new defensive coordinator in Eric Mangini, whose personnel dictates the Niners confuse and confound opponents, as opposed to simply dominating. As such, Palmer represents a different challenge as a heady veteran who might be able to pick apart a rebuilding, er, reloading defense on the fly. Palmer the game manager against the Niners might be more dangerous than Palmer the mad bomber.
Terry Blount, Seattle Seahawks: I don’t know that it scares them, but everyone in the division knows the Cardinals are going to be much better with Palmer back. Who knows what this team could have accomplished last season if Palmer had been on the field all year. The Seahawks were fortunate they didn’t have to face him in either game last season, a definite factor in the Cardinals scoring a total of nine points in those games. A quick look at a couple of stats shows a dramatic difference. Palmer threw 11 TD passes and only three interceptions in six games. The team had only 10 TD passes and nine interceptions in the last 10 regular-season games. Arizona was 5-1 with Palmer; 6-5 without him, including the playoff game loss at Carolina. So the rest of the division knows Palmer makes the Cardinals a much tougher opponent.