Here are the eight biggest attention-grabbing aspects of the Arizona Cardinals’ schedule as I see it:
8) GO DEVILS!
I know I’m alone in this, but the first thing I do when the Cardinals schedule is released is cross-reference it with ASU. Each weekend, I watch every top 25 college football game and almost every NFL game (I usually skip games involving NFL teams from Florida because the teams are so bad). Weekend time is of the essence. If ASU is on the road and the Cardinals are at home, it’s brutal. This year’s schedule is a dream come true for me because only once does my weekend hardship occur: ASU at UCLA on Oct. 3 and Arizona vs. St. Louis the next day.
7) TURKEY BY THE BAY
Going through the same exercise of comparing schedules with ASU, we have a wonderful coincidence for any fan who likes to travel. Take your Thanksgiving and invite friends and family over a special meal and watch football. Take a Friday flight to San Francisco and enjoy a special evening at Fisherman’s Wharf. Saturday, watch your Devils finish off the season and hopefully, close out the the South division championship at Cal. Head to Santa Clara the next morning for the Cardinals’ game with your luggage in the rental car for a 1:00 game and you should be able to be home Sunday night.
6) CARDINALS WEATHER
With four Eastern time zone road trips and one upper-Midwest trip, Arizona could have been looking at a brutal weather schedule. Instead, the Cards were gift-wrapped a weather treat. Chicago is in September. Pittsburgh presents no issues in mid-October. Cleveland will be sunny, but chilly, on the first of November, so Arizona shouldn’t be troubled. The only game that could be dicey is Philly when it’s already begun to look like Christmas on December 20.
5) THE DOUBLE-EASTER
This trip isn’t Holy by any stretch. Back-to-back EDT games create travel nightmares. Arizona could fly to Detroit for their Oct. 11 game which is a 4:00 p.m. start in Michigan, arrive home around two in the morning on Monday, practice on a short week and fly back East on Friday the 16th to Pittsburgh for a 10:00 a.m. “body clock” game on Sunday.
The other option is equally as difficult. The Cardinals could stay in the Michigan/Ohio/Western Pennsylvania area for the entire week after their game in Detroit to have more time to prepare for the Steelers. Neither is ideal, making 1-1 the goal for the seven-day stretch.
Three of the first four Cardinals’ games are at home.
Three of the last four Cardinals’ games are at home.
After you read point 2, you’ll see it’s very important for Arizona to start fast because of what’s coming.
3) THE PETERSON BOWL
Look at all the great possibilities and personalities for a Thursday Night opponent for Arizona: a divisional game in the brutal NFC West, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, Johnny Manziel, Chip Kelly (or Tim Tebow) and Aaron Rodgers. Why did the NFL ignore all those possibilities for the Arizona Cardinals to host a Thursday Night game against…wait for it…the Minnesota Vikings?
Is the NFL preparing for a Peterson revenge game or rubbing it in to Arizona for the player they couldn’t trade for?
2) THE TROUBLESOME MID-SECTION
Arizona hosts the Rams on Oct. 4 before embarking on the “Bookend Tour”. Baltimore comes to town for a Monday night game and it’s back on the road for games in Cleveland and Seattle which are sandwiched around the bye week. This means the Cardinals will have one home game in a 47-day stretch. To continue to rub it in, when the Cards return home to face Cincinnati, they leave again for back-to-back divisional road games. So the grand total there is two home games in a 64-day stretch.
The visual is from Oct. 5 through Dec. 9, Arizona plays at University of Phoenix Stadium only twice.
1) A 10-3 CARDINALS TEAM MIGHT MISS THE PLAYOFFS
Hey, I agree with thinking positive but let’s be realists, too. Do not use the phrase, “it’s early.” Hit the panic button in September if things aren’t going well for Arizona because the end of the year is not the time to make up ground.
The last three games: at Philadelphia, and home against Green Bay and Seattle. Last year, the number-one seed was in the Cardinals’ grasp before losing at home to Seattle. How did that turn out? The silver lining is the game preceding this brutal stretch is the Thursday Night game against Minnesota so Arizona will have a mini-bye.
In 2013, the Cards were 10-6, sitting at home watching the NFL playoffs. With a brutal finish to the 2015 Cardinals schedule, a 10-3 record guarantees Arizona absolutely nothing. September is imperative because the end could be an implosion.