There are a million and one things to discuss now that Kurt Warner has announced his retirement. The effect on the NFC West is obviously huge so we'll have plenty to discuss in the coming months. Given that this is a rather quiet weekend (Senior Bowl/Pro Bowl), I thought we'd kick things off with a look at the Arizona Cardinals list of opponents. I thought it'd be fun to make some quick projections for each opponent based on with and without Warner. Nothing too long and complicated, but just something to get the conversation rolling.
The 49ers swept the Cardinals last season, so we know they can handle the Cardinals, with or without Warner. Obviously a lot depends on what the Cardinals do at the quarterback, and how the rest of the team steps up without Warner. The question now is how the Cardinals will do in all their other games. Much of this is just throwing crap against a wall and seeing what sticks. After all, Matt Leinart seems to be the QB of 2010 right now, but who really knows at this point. Maybe the make a run at Donovan McNabb? And if he is the guy for next season, will he step up and becoming a legit NFL QB? Who knows, but it's fun speculating. For now we'll operate under the assumption that the Cardinals 2010 QB is in the house now, or might be drafted (we won't project free agents).
St. Louis Rams
With Warner: The Rams are in full-on rebuilding mode. If Kurt Warner had not retired, it's safe to say the Cardinals would be looking at a pair of wins against the Rams (as would the 49ers).
Without Warner: Given that the Rams are in full-on rebuilding mode, it would seem likely that the Cardinals should be able to take care of business no matter who is at the helm of this ship. An upset is possible, particularly if Matt Leinart does not prove to be the answer, but I'll say 2 wins for the Cardinals for now.
With Warner: The Seahawks have themselves a new head coach in Pete Carroll, but they have a million question marks of their own. The Seahawks were swept by Arizona last year, so depending on what they do at the QB position, among others, a sweep certainly is possible in 2010.
Without Warner: A sweep seems a lot less likely, particularly given that Seattle can be a tough team to beat at Qwest Field. Depending on how the rest of the season goes, Arizona @ Seattle could be a difference-maker. I'll say split for now.
After the jump we look outside the division and provide our first projection of the offseason for the Cardinals...
New Orleans (Home)
With Warner: They were crushed in a game many thought could be a shootout. New Orleans might be a slim favorite among the bookies, and I would probably expect a Saints win, although it might be close, depending on when the game happens.
Without Warner: Sorry, but no matter who's QBing this team (except maybe McNabb), this is marked up as a loss on the schedule.
Tampa Bay (Home)
With Warner: The Bucs are re-building and are an expected win. Simple as that.
Without Warner: Even Matt Leinart can beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Maybe an upset could be in the offing, but I just don't see it happening. Cardinals win.
With Warner: The Broncos are a tough team to figure out, and given that the 49ers will be playing them in England, we'll have plenty to say about them. If Warner was in town though, I'd argue win for the Cardinals.
Without Warner: I think it's still a win, but could be an incredibly tough battle. And with a new defensive coordinator, who really knows. I'll go with the win because I just am not feeling Josh McDaniel after the way they finished 2009.
With Warner: Win, plain and simple. These are the Raid-uhs after all. Yes they've sprung some big upsets, but I'm just not feeling it.
Without Warner: The Raiders are one of the hardest franchises in the league to figure out at this point. They pulled some big upsets last season (see Steelers, Eagles, Broncos), with the Steelers and Broncos wins happening on the road. So clearly a win is possible. This game officially becomes a toss-up in my opinion.
With Warner: A likely shoot-out, but I think under Warner this is probably a win. I wouldn't be surprised by a loss, but the Cardinals would have had a good shot to win this.
Without Warner: Are we talking old school December choking Dallas Cowboys, or are we talking about the team that wiped the floor with Philly back-to-back weeks. Dallas should be able to win this game, but this is a tough one. I'd lean towards Dallas, but this could also be a toss-up.
With Warner: If the Falcons were healthy and ready to go, I think they'd be favored, and would spring the upset. A lot would have depended on how Michael Turner bounced back in 2010 (a big question for the Falcons).
Without Warner: I think Atlanta is a serious favorite and can take care of business in this game if healthy. Mark it up as an Atlanta win.
With Warner: Is Jake Delhomme out of the picture? Carolina walked in to Arizona last season and wiped the floor with the Cardinals in a rather shocking outcome. Given that, maybe it's a Carolina win, but who really knows given the QB situation in Carolina.
Without Warner: We could have some abysmal quarterbacks on display if Matt Leinart doesn't step up. Him potentially battling Matt Moore would just be awful. Given the Panthers rushing attack I'd go with the Panthers in this instance.
Kansas City (Road)
With Warner: The Chiefs suck and are rebuilding, plain and simple. A Warner-led Cardinals team would handle them with ease.
Without Warner: I think the Cardinals still win, but it could be a bit more interesting. However, we'll stick with a Cardinals win.
San Diego (Road)
With Warner: The fightin' Norv Turners continue to disappoint in the postseason, but this would be one of the better matchups of 2010 during the regular season. A "Super Bowl preview" if you will given that people would be jumping all over both these bandwagons.
With Warner: Now that Warner has retired, will Brett Favre get his crap together and get an announcement out soon? This game becomes impossible to predict, in my opinion without Favre. If Favre is around it would seem to be a Minnesota win. If Favre was retired, an Arizona win.
Without Warner: Again, who really knows. I think it's a loss either way, but without Fav-ruh, it's a tougher call. Let's just hope he figures out his decision soon and ends any suspense other people (not me) might have. I'll say loss for now.
A quick overview reveals the following: Not including the 49ers games, I appear to have the Cardinals somewhere around 7-7. I give them the win over Denver, but a toss-up against the Raiders (included as a win for now) and toss-up against Dallas (counted as a loss here). The 49ers have to play the games of course, but a sweep is certainly a possibility. So you're looking at potentially 7-9. Am I being too optimistic for the 49ers, or do you think the Cardinals would do even worse at this point?