ARIZONA CARDINALS

The 5: Key games on Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 schedule

May 12, 2021, 6:36 PM

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)...

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

We now know when the Arizona Cardinals will be playing all their football games for the 2021 season.

With that, there are some key stretches of the season that can start to develop with a closer look at the games.

Here are a few by spotlighting the five games that stand out the most:

Week 2 — vs. Minnesota Vikings

Treat this as a joint pick of sorts with the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3.

The Tennessee Titans on the road is a very good challenge to start the year in Week 1, so the Cardinals will either enter this matchup looking to go 2-0 or avoid 0-2.

Assuming Arizona handles No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence the week after, the gauntlet really starts in the next three weeks with the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. All three of those teams could win double-digit games, so the Cardinals taking care of business in the first three weeks will be crucial.

Oh, and Patrick Peterson’s return to Arizona. That too.

Week 8 — vs. Green Bay Packers (Thursday Night Football)

Aaron Rodgers being a member of the Packers drastically changes the outlook for this game. But again, let’s focus on the road getting there. After that brutal three-game stretch in Weeks 4-6, the Cardinals get a layup in the Houston Texans.

Depending on how good or bad that goes will add a certain amount of extra stakes to this matchup. 2-5? Must-win game. 4-3?  Gotta try and keep up in the NFC West.

Week 9 — at San Francisco 49ers

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Speaking of that division stuff, the Cardinals coming off a Thursday game will have extra time to prepare for the 49ers.

Now, if Rodgers stays on the Packers, you can look at Thursday as a tough break in getting Rodgers on a short week. But if he’s gone, that’s a best-case scenario. As is getting a divisional opponent with the extended week to get ready.

With the Cardinals being the underdog in the NFC West, they’ll have to do some of the hard work themselves to make up ground, especially if they still haven’t beaten Sean McVay yet at this point.

Week 11 — at Seattle Seahawks

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Remember back in Week 13 of the 2009 season when a 10-1 Minnesota Vikings squad led by Brett Favre came to town for a primetime showdown against the 7-4 Cardinals? A solid chance for Arizona to prove if they are a contender?

Those litmus test games in the back-half of the schedule are always interesting, and by this point in Week 11 against Seattle, we will know if the Cardinals really have a decent shot to make the playoffs. Not quite to the level of 2009 and going for a Super Bowl, but this season’s version of that.

To go back to previous observations, this is another opportunity to do some first-hand damage on divisional opposition. Gotta take advantage.

Week 16 — vs. Indianapolis Colts

The Cardinals could very well be in a situation where they need to win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive, or will lose some control of those hopes with a loss.

They wrap with Dallas and Seattle after this matchup with the Colts, two opponents that aren’t overwhelming favorites, and perhaps Indianapolis is the best team of those three.

And if Arizona is looking to send a message that it’s for real, a whole lot of people will be watching on Christmas.

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The 5: Key games on Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 schedule