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The Los Angeles Rams could have some tough games against the Arizona Cardinals this year

The red birds from Glendale, Arizona aren’t exactly being taken seriously as legit competitors for the NFC West crown, but here’s why they could be sneaky good this season.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

In a short series examining the NFC West “rivals,” I have already covered the San Francisco 49ers. Today: the Arizona Cardinals. Oh, and before your eyes glaze over, we play these jerks in Week 2.

There’s been some recent eye rolling from NFL fans when the Arizona Cardinals are mentioned as upstart disrupters in the NFC West. They’re brittle, unproven, and probably need a year or two to establish their identity. But then again, in the NFL, nobody knows anything until they play the games.

The Cardinals are fine even if/when QB Sam Bradford’s knee explodes.

I genuinely root for QB Sam Bradford; I want the guy to play a full season just because I know he works hard and his talent is so great that he deserves the chance to compete. The Cardinals are a nice fit for Bradford, as he has a legit star WR to throw to in Larry Fitzgerald, and two young speedsters in WR Chad Williams and WR Christian Kirk. Drafted in the second round, Christian Kirk has a chance to be a pain in the ass for the Los Angeles Rams’ secondary. The Cardinals also have an explosive left tackle in D.J. Humphries; he’s super athletic when he’s not hurt -- which is kind of the motto with this team. Speaking of getting hurt, Bradford will have some help with his running game with the return of RB David Johnson, who was fantastic before a season-ending injury last season.

And if you’ve watched your fair share of UCLA games the past couple of years, you know that once he’s given the opportunity, QB Josh Rosen will be up to the task. I believe that Rosen’s biggest challenge will be staying healthy, but if he can accomplish that, he can throw like a guy who has been in the league for 15 years. Rosen is also a guy that can step in even if Sam Bradford goes down in the first quarter of Week 1.

With Steve Wilks as their new head coach, the defense will improve

Brought over from the Carolina Panthers, the ex-defensive coordinator comes with a new 4-3 defensive scheme. Wilks is a strong leader that will bring some much needed youth and inspiration to the culture. Bruce Arians kind of looks like the type of person who’d steal people’s lunches out of the community refrigerator while Wilks seems like a coach that has the locker room in the palm of his hand — not great news for opposing teams.

The Cardinals defense is going to be better

Last year, the Cardinals defense was pretty lopsided — guys like CB Patrick Peterson were lining up alongside the part-time line cook at the local Cracker Barrel. They’ve plugged in CB Jamar Taylor, which is alright. I really like second year safety Budda Baker, who could end up playing a lot better this season.

The Arizona Cardinals should probably be encased in bubble-wrap until the season begins because these dudes have proven themselves to be injury-prone. However, they could have also endured some bad luck that is now done with and LA Rams’ fans shouldn’t view this NFC West team as two easy wins this season.

With one of the best running backs in the league and potential future star in Josh Rosen, the Cards may not be a favorite to win the division, but they’re still ready to cause some havoc.