To the victors go the spoils, or in this case, a tougher schedule.
By strength of schedule, the Arizona Cardinals have the eighth-most difficult set of opponents in 2014, with the 13 different teams combining for a .547 winning percentage in 2013.
Arizona’s NFC West rivals are all facing more difficult slates, with the St. Louis Rams having the second-toughest schedule in the NFL.
Of course, a large chunk of the scheduling difficulty comes courtesy of those division rivals, which was unavoidable for Arizona. The team will have six games against the Seahawks, 49ers and Rams, who combined to go 32-16 with two NFC Championship Game appearances and one Super Bowl title last year.
Breaking down the schedule even more, the Cardinals will deal with the third-toughest home slate in the NFL, as the University of Phoenix Stadium visitors have a .563 winning percentage. The Cards will get a small reprieve away from home, though, as their opponents on the road have just a .531 winning percentage, good enough for ninth-best in the NFL.
What does all this mean? Well, no one really knows who is going to be good on a year-to-year basis, so odds are some of the games that appear to be the most challenging now will not be once they are actually played (see Falcons and Texans last season). But, if the Cardinals are to have another successful season, chances are they are going to earn it.
And for what it’s worth, the Cards had the seventh-toughest schedule going into last season, and things turned out OK.