2009 record: 10-6 (First in NFC West)
Steve WycheThe QB spot will be up and down and so will this team emotionally. A lot of leaders are gone, including some key defenders.
8,336Total yards Kurt Warner passed for in the last two years in leading Arizona to back-to-back NFC West titles. It goes without saying that Matt Leinart (or Derek Anderson) has some mighty big shoes to fill.
Keith steps in as the Cardinals' new right tackle after serving in a reserve role for two seasons. While playing on the right side is normally reserved for the team's top run blocker, Keith gets the added responsibility of protecting Matt Leinart's blindside. Given the importance of keeping Leinart upright, Keith finds himself squarely in the crosshairs as a first-time starter.
Beanie WellsWells flashed immense potential down the stretch last season on the way to finishing with 793 rushing yards. He is a tough, hard-nosed runner with good speed and quickness, that has the skills to be effective between the tackles or on the perimeter. With coach Ken Whisenhunt intent on implementing a more ground-based attack, Wells could be the key to their offensive success.
Fitzgerald still eliteLarry Fitzgerald remains one of the top wide receivers in fantasy football, and the loss of Kurt Warner to retirement shouldn't have a major impact on his production in 2010. While he could see a slight drop in touchdowns, Fitzgerald is too talented not to remain an elite wideout.
Three pivotal games
Sept. 19 at AtlantaConsider this the first opportunity to see where the new-look Cardinals stand. Arizona has dominated the NFC West in recent years, but how will it perform without Kurt Warner in charge of the offense? Will the team make another playoff run or take a step back? This Week 2 road game against an NFC contender could reveal the direction in which the Cardinals are headed.
Oct. 10 vs. New OrleansThe Cardinals allowed 45 points and 418 yards of offense to the eventual Super Bowl champions in a divisional playoff loss at the Superdome. With Arizona's defense losing key contributors Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle, it'll be interesting to see how the unit responds at home against the Saints. The Cardinals will likely consider this one of those "statement" games.
Nov. 29 vs. San FranciscoWithout a doubt, this Week 12 Monday night game against the 49ers will be huge for Arizona. Yes, division implications will be on the line. But you've also got to figure the Cardinals will be ready for revenge. Even though they won the NFC West last season, San Francisco had their number in sweeping them, and that included a loss on Monday Night Football.