*Photo Credit: Levis Stadium

Arizona Cardinals

2016 Record: 7-8-1
NFL Draft: Rd 1- LB, Haason Reddick; Rd 2- S, Budda Baker; Rd 3- WR, Chad Williams; Rd 4- G, Dorian Johnson; Rd 5- OT, Will Holden; Rd 5- RB, TJ Logan; Rd 6- S, Johnathan Ford
Pitt Players: WR, Larry Fitzgerald #11 ; G, Dorian Johnson #64 (Practice Squad)

After a lackluster 2016, the Arizona Cardinals will look to improve this coming season and prove to the NFL that last year was nothing but a fluke. Running back David Johnson has quickly become one of the more electric players in the entire league, and looks to improve upon a successful 2016 campaign. While Johnson has been a pleasant surprise for the franchise, the Cardinals should be worrying about quarterback Carson Palmer. At 37, Palmer is one of the oldest players in the entire league, and his injury history should worry Cardinals fans. In addition to their aging quarterback, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be entering his 14th year in the league, and at 34 there are questions regarding how much the legendary former Pitt wide receiver has left in the tank.

While there are certainly concerns regarding the roster overall, the Cardinals have excellent coaching, and like the Kansas City Chiefs, they get the best out of otherwise average players. Bruce Arians is a top ten NFL coaching talent, and the success of this team depends on Arians’ coaching prowess. The season predictions below are a conglomeration of prior predictions from our past pieces and podcasts. I think the Cardinals have the talent to make the playoffs at 9-7, but I can easily see them just missing the mark. Out of the games we have them losing, I can see them proving us wrong in their matchups against the Colts in Week 2, and their game against the Redskins in Week 15. This is a talented team, but their schedule will definitely test the abilities of this roster to their fullest extent, as they play 8 games against playoff-worthy teams this year. A playoff spot is no guarantee.

Schedule:
Week 1: Away at the Detroit Lions- 27-6 Lions
Week 2: Away at the Indianapolis Colts- 27-13 Colts
Week 3: Home vs the Dallas Cowboys- 17-13 Cowboys
Week 4: Home vs the San Francisco 49ers- 13-10 Cardinals
Week 5: Away at the Philadelphia Eagles- 21-10 Cardinals
Week 6: Home vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 17-13 Buccaneers
Week 7: Away at the Los Angeles Rams- 32-12 Cardinals
Week 8: Bye-Week (Current Record: 3-4)
Week 9: Away at the San Francisco 49ers- 16-10 (OT) 49ers
Week 10: Home vs the Seattle Seahawks- 17-13 Cardinals
Week 11: Away at the Houston Texans- 21-17 Texans
Week 12: Home vs the Jacksonville Jaguars- 23-13 Cardinals
Week 13: Home vs the Los Angeles Rams- 21-14 Cardinals
Week 14: Home vs the Tennessee Titans- 20-10 Cardinals
Week 15: Away at the Washington Redskins- 20-17 Redskins
Week 16: Home vs the New York Giants- 23-9 Giants
Week 17: Away at the Seattle Seahawks- 9-6 Seahawks

Final Predicted Record: 7-9

San Francisco 49ers

2016 Record: 2-14
NFL Draft: Rd 1- DE, Solomon Thomas; Rd 1- ILB, Reuben Foster; Rd 3- CB, Ahkello Witherspoon; Rd 4- RB, Joe Williams; Rd 5- TE, George Kittle; Rd 5- WR, Trent Taylor; Rd 6- DT, DJ Jones; Rd 6- DL, Pita Taumoepenu; Rd 7- DB, Adrian Colbert
Pitt Players: CB, K’Waun Williams #24

After an awful 2016, the 49ers are in rebuilding mode under new GM John Lynch and new head coach Kyle Shanahan. San Fran absolutely killed it in the draft this year, as they got two top ten talents in DE Solomon Thomas and ILB Reuben Foster. I personally think Foster is going to be the biggest steal of the draft, and he looks like a Patrick Willis clone. While the future is may be bright, this team is lousy right now. Their quarterback situation is rough, with journeyman Brian Hoyer as the starter, and their wide receiving core is nameless. People can argue all they want about Pierre Garcon, but he hasn’t been relevant since his first two seasons in Washington. Marquise Goodwin is a backup at best, despite his incredible speed.

Defensively, the 49ers won’t be too great either, despite the presence of Navarro Bowman and their newly added defensive studs I mentioned earlier. The 49ers defense won’t be anything special this year, but with the incredible moves they made in this year’s draft, combined with the possibility of Kirk Cousins arriving in the spring of 2018, 49ers fans have a lot to look forward to. Our prediction is not kind at all to this franchise, but I expect this team to grow over the course of this season. Next season I expect this team to win more than 6 games, but for now, 49ers fans have to watch the GOAT, Brian Hoyer.

Schedule:
Week 1: Home vs the Carolina Panthers- 17-0 Panthers
Week 2: Away at the Seattle Seahawks- 24-7 Seahawks
Week 3: Home vs the Los Angeles Rams- 21-10 Rams
Week 4: Away at the Arizona Cardinals- 13-10 Cardinals
Week 5: Away at the Indianapolis Colts- 38-10 Colts
Week 6: Away at the Washington Redskins- 27-14 Redskins
Week 7: Home vs the Dallas Cowboys- 27-10 Cowboys
Week 8: Away at the Philadelphia Eagles- 28-10 Eagles
Week 9: Home vs the Arizona Cardinals- 16-10 (OT) 49ers
Week 10: Away at the New York Giants- 31-20 Giants
Week 11: Bye-Week (Current Record: 1-9)
Week 12: Home vs the Seattle Seahawks- 27-17 Seahawks
Week 13: Away at the Chicago Bears- 9-3 49ers
Week 14: Away at the Houston Texans- 42-14 Texans
Week 15: Home vs the Tennessee Titans- 35-20 Titans
Week 16: Home vs the Jacksonville Jaguars- 14-13 Jaguars
Week 17: Away at the Los Angeles Rams- 17-14 Rams

Final Predicted Record: 2-14

Sam Bleifer is a student at the University of Pittsburgh (Class of 2019) who is majoring in Political Science and History, and minoring in Philosophy. Sam was born and raised in New Jersey and never stops talking about how great Newark airport is (seriously). He aspires to go into politics one day and hopes to run for office in New Jersey. Sam is the host of Spotlight and The Honesty Hour.

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