By the numbers: A look at the Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 schedule
The full 2021 NFL schedule has finally been released and the Arizona Cardinals will look to take a leap forward this upcoming season.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) May 12, 2021
This offseason the Cardinals were busy in free agency as they added J.J. Watt, Malcolm Butler, A.J. Green, Rodney Hudson (trade), Matt Prater and Brian Winters to bolster Arizona’s roster.
In this year’s NFL Draft, Arizona drafted seven players including Zaven Collins (Tulsa), Rondale Moore (Purdue), Marco Wilson (Florida), Victor Dimukeje (Duke), Tay Gowan (UCF), James Wiggins (Cincinnati) and Michal Menet (Penn State).
With the NFC West stacked from top to bottom with playoff contending teams, how does the Cardinals’ upcoming schedule rank against the rest of the NFL?
Here’s a look at some the numbers behind Arizona’s 2021 schedule release:
According to B/R Gridiron, the Cardinals are tied with the Tennessee Titans for the 13th toughest strength of schedule based on their opponents’ record from last season. The Rams (8th) and Seahawks (11th) will also be tested along with Arizona.
The Cardinals will face nine teams who made the playoffs in 2020. Those teams are the Los Angeles Rams (twice), Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks (twice), Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts. Arizona will have their toughest stretch towards the end of the season, as the team will face five 2020 playoff teams during their last seven games of the year.
Which NFL teams have the most games vs. opponents who made the playoffs in 2020?
10: Steelers, Packers
9: Ravens, Bengals, Vikings, Lions, Seahawks, Cardinals.
8: Titans, Texans, Raiders, Bears, Rams, 49ers
5: Cowboys, Eagles
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) May 10, 2021
Arizona will play in three primetime televised games at State Farm Stadium, which ties the most in franchise history. The Cardinals’ nationally televised list has the Packers in Week 8, the Rams in Week 14 and the Colts in Week 16. Arizona has hosted three primetime games just four other times in franchise history.
The Cardinals’ longest road trip this upcoming season will consist of two back-to-back games, as the team will head to Jacksonville in Week 3 and Los Angeles in Week 4. Last season the Cardinals had three straight road games spanning from Weeks 4-6. The Cardinals went 2-1 during that stretch.
Arizona will go up against the AFC South this year. In 2017, the Cardinals went 3-1 against that division. DeAndre Hopkins and Watt will take on their former squad in Week 7 at State Farm Stadium.
Oklahoma Heisman trophy winners Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield will meet for just the second time in Week 6. In 2019 when both quarterbacks faced off against each other, Arizona defeated Cleveland 38-24. Mayfield ended up with more passing yardage on the day with 247 while Murray had 219 in the win. Expect both quarterbacks to put up higher passing yards this time around.
When the Cardinals welcome in the Colts on Christmas Day it will be the first time since 2010 that the franchise will play on the 25th of December. Arizona defeated the Dallas Cowboys in 2010 by a score of 27-26. The Cardinals are 1-1 on Christmas Day.