Imagine the Arizona Cardinals facing Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles in every game this upcoming season.
That, according to ESPN, is the average equivalent of what starting quarterbacks they face on their 2016 schedule, and comparatively, that’s good news for Bruce Arians’ team.
ESPN already broke every starting NFL quarterback into tiers, and it’s now extrapolating those numbers to rank each team’s schedule based on their quarterback matchups. The Cardinals have the 31st most-difficult schedule when it comes to the starting quarterback they are facing.
So what’s Bortles got to do with it?
Based on the opposing quarterback rating given from ESPN’s quarterback tiers panel of voters, Arizona faces a 2.98 average rating — out of a 1-5 scale where 1 is the best quarterback. That is close to the young Jacksonville signal-caller’s rating in the same exercise.
Many in the QB Tiers survey saw Bortles (3.0) as a young QB on the rise, but they weren’t always willing to bump him into the second tier just yet.
The Cardinals are aided by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension in Week 1 of the regular season, and they face a league-high five games against quarterbacks in the fourth tier of ESPN’s quarterback rankings.
That, of course, doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth sailing, writes ESPN’s Mike Sando.
The finish isn’t easy. Arizona follows a long Week 14 trip to Miami with games against (the Saints’ Drew) Brees (home) and (the Seahawks’ Russell) Wilson (road). Finishing the season at Los Angeles means the Rams’ untested QBs will have some seasoning.