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NFL: Can the Arizona Cardinals be the first of 12 teams to end their Super Bowl drought?

Arizona Cardinals Training Camp
Arizona Cardinals Training Camp

As of 2021, the Arizona Cardinals are one of the 12 NFL teams that have never won the Super Bowl.

In the NFC, the Detroit Lions, the Carolina Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Cardinals have also yet to taste Super Bowl glory.

In the AFC, the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills are yet to win a Lombardi trophy.

Last week, the SK writers team analyzed which of the four teams to have never played in a Super Bowl is currently best suited to make it there. Other teams, like the Falcons, have made unsuccessful trips to the Super Bowl, and they're looking to bring home the Lombardi Trophy next time around.

For example, J.J. Watt's new team, the Cardinals lost their last trip to the Super Bowl in 2008. Heading into the 2021 season, Arizona looks like a potential playoff team, so it's fair to wonder whether the Cardinals can become the first of the aforementioned 12 teams to end their Super Bowl drought.

Can Kyler Murray lead the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl?

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams
Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams

After two games in 2020, the flashy Cardinals were one of the early favorites to win the NFC West. But the team collapsed down the stretch, as it only won two its last seven games.

Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, in Kyler Murray, Arizona has a young, talented franchise QB capable of running the ball and executing deep passes. There's plenty of talent around him, too.

His primary weapon, DeAndre Hopkins (1,407 yards receiving in 2020) is still an elite WR. The offensive tackle duo of D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum were much improved in pass protection last season, as they recorded pass-blocking grades north of 75.0. Having a premier receiver and a solid offensive line is surely a recipe for success.

On the defensive side, the Cardinals already added J.J. Watt to the roster, and the combination of Chandler Jones, Haason Reddick (12.5 sacks in 2020) and Watt could be a fearsome trio. On paper, the team certainly has star players that are worthy of the Super Bowl.

But can the Cardinals finally capture a Lombardi Trophy in 2021 or shortly thereafter? Tough the team hasn't even made the playoffs since 2015, it's impossible to rule this scenario out. But Arizona will have to make some changes in order to become a legitimate contender.

The Cardinals need to move on from veteran defenders Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick in coverage. The duo had a bad 2020 in which Peterson ranked 83rd among 121 cornerbacks for his 53.1 pass coverage grade. Kirkpatrick (46.1) faired even worse with 107th ranking, so both players were detrimental to the team. Peterson has been a franchise player, but it's time to move on.

Arizona should also prioritize the addition of a new power running back. Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds were inconsistent last year, and without Kyler Murrays 819 rushing yards, the Cardinals ranked in the bottom half of the league. The likes of Aaron Jones and Leonard Fournette could be available during free agency, and they could easily improve the Cardinals' ground game.

In theory, Arizona could go all the way and win its first-ever Super Bowl this year. But even with the arrival of J.J Watt, Arizona still shares the NFC West with the Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers, a competitive trio of teams. Plus, some of the other teams in the aforementioned dozen look like they're more equipped to win the Super Bowl before the Cardinals taste that glory.

Do you think the Cardinals will be the first of the these teams to finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy? Sound off in the comments section below.

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Edited by Colin Tessier
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