Arizona Cardinals 2019 season preview: Kliff, Kyler and the Air Raid

Gruden, Kingsbury among coaches facing the most pressure (1:57)

Ryan Clark explains why Jay Gruden will be under pressure in Washington, while Marcus Spears says Kliff Kingsbury will have to prove himself and improve Arizona's offense. (1:57)

The Arizona Cardinals are ranked No. 30 in ESPN's preseason Football Power Index. Here's everything you need to know about them heading into the 2019 NFL season:

The big question: Can Kliff Kingsbury's offense work?

It's an impossible question to answer because nobody has seen what Kingsbury's version of his Air Raid offense will look like in the NFL. And nobody will until Week 1. But how well it works will dictate how well the Cardinals do in 2019. And if it doesn't work, the biggest question becomes: How bad will 2019 go for Arizona? -- Josh Weinfuss

Offseason in a nutshell

After firing coach Steve Wilks the day after the 2018 season ended, the Cardinals began a major overhaul of their team, primarily the offense. They hired Kingsbury to replace Wilks, luring him away from USC after he was fired by Texas Tech in November for going 35-40 in six seasons. Then the Cardinals doubled down on Kingsbury and his offensive philosophy by drafting quarterback Kyler Murray first overall and trading last year's starter, Josh Rosen, who they drafted 10th overall in 2018. -- Weinfuss

Inside the Cardinals' schedule

Most important game: The Cardinals' opener against the Detroit Lions will be their most important because it'll be the unveiling of Kingsbury's version of the Air Raid, which he has kept under lock and key. The world will see what Kingsbury has been plotting and planning, how it'll be run, who'll line up where, how many plays they'll run and -- most importantly -- whether it'll work.

Toughest stretch: The last five games are daunting regardless of whether the Cardinals are good or not. The Cardinals host the Rams on Dec. 1, the Steelers on Dec. 8 and the Browns on Dec. 15, and then play at the Seahawks on Dec. 22 and at the Rams on Dec. 29 to finish the season. That stretch could devastate an already poor season, derail a promising one or prove the Cardinals are a legitimate playoff contender.

Over or under 5.4 wins? Under. Even if the offense is good with Murray running the show and Kingsbury's version of the Air Raid, the defense is going to cost the Cardinals dearly this season. First, they will be without Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson for six games. Robert Alford is out with injury, making the cornerback position a serious liability in addition to the concerns on the defensive line and inside linebacker. -- Weinfuss

Schedule ranking: No. 4

Yes, three of the games are at home, but it is decidedly not an easy December for the Cardinals. Early in the year, things set up for a surprisingly hot start, with easier opponents and four of their first six games at home. The Cardinals also play San Francisco twice in three games during a midseason period where they have four of five games on the road. -- Football Outsiders | See the full 1-32 ranking

Breakout fantasy star: QB Kyler Murray

There have been only three top-10 and six top-14 fantasy seasons by rookie quarterbacks over the past decade, but all six players did a lot of damage with their legs. That bodes well for Murray's chances, as the 2019 first overall pick ran for 1,001 yards while averaging 7.2 yards per carry at Oklahoma last season. Murray can sling it, too; he set an FBS record with 11.6 yards per attempt last season. Rookies are always risky, but Murray's dual-threat ability, combined with a fast-paced Kingsbury offense, has him on the top-12 radar. -- Mike Clay | More fantasy coverage

The view from Vegas

Super Bowl odds: 150-1 (opened 150-1)
Over/under: 5 (O -120/U +100)
Playoff odds: Yes +850, No -1500

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook as of Sept. 2.

Most interesting player prop

Over/under 470.5 rushing yards for Kyler Murray:

  • Weinfuss: Under. That number means Murray will have to average 29.4 rushing yards per game. That'll definitely happen during some games, but it's tough to see it happening on a weekly basis because of how defenses will be scheming for him.

Bold prediction: The Cardinals will lead the NFL in scoring

The Cardinals will lead the NFL in scoring in 2019 and still miss the playoffs because of their defense, which will be missing Peterson for the first six games. There's good reason to believe Kingsbury's offense can be as potent and dynamic as it was in college. He's coaching perhaps the best quarterback he's ever worked with -- and that's saying something. Kingsbury has an offensive mind that has been compared to the likes of former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. But the defense will be a liability, no matter how many points the Cardinals score. -- Weinfuss

Where the Cardinals landed in NFLRank

  • No. 65: Chandler Jones

  • No. 74: David Johnson

  • No. 77: Patrick Peterson

Speed reads before the opener