This “could be the year” for Cardinals to make Super Bowl

TEMPE, Ariz. – Feb. 1, 2009 was both a day of elation and depression for the Arizona Cardinals and their fans. The Cardinals were 2:30 away from beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. Kurt Warner hit Larry Fitzgerald on a 64-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, and the Valley went nuts!

Unfortunately for the Cardinals and their fans, Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes put a kibosh in their championship parade plans. Their six-yard touchdown connection with 35-seconds left put Pittsburgh ahead, and their defense sealed the deal, forcing Warner to fumble the ball away on Arizona’s final drive.

Arizona would make the playoffs twice more after that, coming up short both times in their attempts to get back to the title game.

It’s extremely hard to make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. In fact, of the 49 Super Bowls played, six teams – Steelers (six), San Francisco 49ers (five), Dallas Cowboys (five), Green Bay Packers (four), New York Giants (four), New England Patriots (four) – have won 57-percent of them. On the flipside, 13 teams – including the Cardinals – have never won a world championship.

Arizona general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians have done incredible jobs over the last two years in putting the Cardinals in a good position to win their first world title. Arizona went from 10 wins in their first season under Keim and Arians, to 11 wins and a Wild Card playoff berth in their second year. Every coach and player in the organization believes the sky’s the limit for the team this year.

Does this mean they’re good enough to suit up in San Francisco’s locker room at Levi’s Stadium next February, and represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50? Only time will tell, but if you ask legendary NFL voice Gil Brandt, he thinks the Cardinals are ready to make that move to Santa Clara, Calif., early next year.

Brandt ranked the 13-title-less NFL teams by their chances of winning the Super Bowl, and hoisting their first Lombardi Trophy. He had the Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles in his “This Could Be The Year” department.

Brandt had this to say about the Cardinals’ chance of making Super Bowl 50:

“Last season, Carson Palmer was limited to just six games by a shoulder issue and torn ACL — and the Cardinals still won 11, making the playoffs for the first time since 2009. With Palmer healthy and ready for 2015, the Cards have the best shot of the bunch to break into the winners’ circle. Another factor working in Arizona’s favor: the presence of Bruce Arians, who is so good, he might be one of the most underrated coaches in the league even after winning the Coach of the Year award for the second time in three seasons.”

Palmer looked very impressive in the team’s offseason workouts, once he shook off the rust of being away from competition since his injury last November. If you could hand over the Lombardi Trophy based on one player’s determination to win it, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would hand deliver it to Arians and Palmer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way; the Cardinals are going to have to grind hard and earn it. That grind resumes for Arizona on July 28 and July 31, when rookies (28th) and veterans (31st) are required to report to training camp. The Cardinals first practice takes place from 2-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

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