CARDINALS CORNER

Ranking the Arizona Cardinals’ 2023 NFL opponents

May 11, 2023, 7:30 PM | Updated: 7:31 pm

Arizona Cardinals' 2023 opponent power rankings...

Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals’ 2023 schedule is officially set following Thursday’s leaguewide release.

But no matter how the schedule shook out, the rebuilding Cardinals already had their work cut out for them with the 11th toughest strength of schedule in the NFL.

In honor of Arizona’s schedule dropping, let’s take a closer look at where the Cardinals’ opponents stack up in May:

Top of the mountain

1. San Francisco 49ers (Weeks 4 & 15)

The 49ers did not slow down with rookie quarterback and local product Brock Purdy at the helm for nine games last season, making it all the way to the NFC Championship before an elbow injury abruptly ended the year for the signal caller and his team.

Purdy is expected to be back throwing in July, which could give him at least a chance to start in Week 1.

But regardless of who is under center for San Francisco, it has one of the nastiest defenses in the league led by Fred Warner and Nick Bosa. The 49ers also added former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.

The rich got richer.

2. Cincinnati Bengals (Week 5)

Quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase are those dudes.

Their connection is one of the best in the league, with the duo linking up for 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns on 87 catches across 12 games last year.

They should get even more time to play throw-and-catch in 2023 with the addition of former Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr., who started all 20 games last year in route to a Super Bowl LVII victory.

3. Baltimore Ravens (Week 8)

Franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson rightfully got paid and all appears well in Baltimore.

That is not good news for the rest of the league, especially those taking on the Ravens this season.

The 2019 MVP is coming off 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns to seven picks on 62.3% passing across 12 starts last season. He chipped in another 764 yards and three scores on 112 carries.

He’s also got a new target to work with in free-agent signing Odell Beckham Jr.

The loss of Calais Campbell hurts defensively, but Baltimore is still among the league’s elite.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (Week 17)

The defending NFC champions saw some roster turnover this offseason — specifically Hargrave and linebacker Kyzir White on the defensive side of things — but remain of the toughest teams to face in the NFL.

A lot of that has to do with the impressive play of signal caller Jalen Hurts.

It was a career year for the QB, completing 66.5% of his throws for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns to six interceptions. He added another 760 yards and 13 touchdowns on 165 attempts.

And after narrowly missing out on a Super Bowl win in addition to a nice pay day in the form of a five-year, $255 million contract extension, Hurts will be ready to prove doubters wrong in Year 4.

5. Dallas Cowboys (Week 3)

There is a clear theme here if you’ve been paying attention.

For the most part, all of the teams in the top tier have a legit signal caller running the show.

And QB Dak Prescott is no exception despite a somewhat shaky 2023.

In 12 games played last season, Prescott completed 66.2% of his passes for 2,860 yards and 23 touchdowns to 15 interceptions (career worst). He ran for an additional 182 yards and one score on 45 carries.

His No. 1 option in CeeDee Lamb is no slouch, either, coming in with the sixth-most receiving yards in the league to go along with nine touchdowns and 107 receptions.

And if those two and running back Tony Pollard aren’t enough firepower, Dallas also has the versatile Micah Parsons coming off 13.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 2023 on the other side of the football.

Tough outs

6. Seattle Seahawks (Weeks 7 & 18)

Like it or not, the Seahawks are going to be a problem for the division.

After exceeding pretty much everyone’s expectations in 2023 with a Wild Card berth and a second-place finish in the NFC West standings, Seattle heads toward another season with quarterback and 2022 Comeback Player of the Year Geno Smith.

The Seahawks also went out and added former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush while re-signing future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner.

And if Tariq Woolen continues on his ascension and rookie Devon Witherspoon catches on quickly, Seattle could be right there in the mix for at least a Wild Card spot if not more.

7. New York Giants (Week 2)

The Giants are another team that moved up the ranks in a hurry last season with a Wild Card berth of its own in 2023.

It was one of quarterback Daniel Jones’ best years yet as a Giant in 2023, setting career marks in passing yards (3,205) and completion percentage (67.2%) to go along with 15 touchdowns to five picks. He chipped in 708 yards and seven scores on 120 carries, averaging 5.9 an attempt.

The real question mark surrounds running back Saquon Barkley and his contract situation.

Despite looking for a long-term deal this offseason and amassing 1,312 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 games played, the Giants opted for the franchise tag when it came down to their No. 1 running back.

It’s certain to be an interesting 2023 in the Big Apple for Brian Daboll and Co.

Coin flips

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 13)

Mike Tomlin’s streak of .500 or better continued last season after the Steelers racked up four-straight victories to end the season by quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Pittsburgh is a legit Wild Card this season given its turnaround at the end of the year.

9. Chicago Bears (Week 16)

Justin Fields looked to have taken a step forward in Year 2 behind 2,242 passing yards and 17 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in addition to another 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.

Despite the uptick in play, he still finished with a 3-12 record in 2022.

Chicago has improved their roster, but by how much?

10. Cleveland Browns (Week 9)

The Browns went 3-3 with new addition Deshaun Watson following his return from an 11-game suspension.

The QB’s shown he can be elite in this league but is three years removed from his last great season.

Cleveland’s best asset is its running game behind Nick Chubb, who racked up 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns on 302 carries across 17 starts. He also caught 27 of his 37 targets for 239 yards and a touchdown.

But with a middle-of-the-road defense, there’s potential for a Cardinals’ win.

11. Los Angeles (Weeks 6 & 12)

11th? Seriously?

Yes, the Rams are not that far removed from their Super Bowl run. No, this is not the same L.A. squad of recent memory.

Heck, the organization even hinted at this year being a rough one given what the team shelled out to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

The big question surrounds quarterback Matthew Stafford, who played in just nine games last season due to a spinal cord contusion. He went 3-6 as the Rams starter before going down.

Works in progress

12. Washington Commanders (Week 1)

The ownership is talked about more than the actual players that take the field.

Not a lot of hype coming out of Washington even with a strong receiving corps led by Terry McLaurin.

13. Atlanta Falcons (Week 10)

Matt Ryan is not walking through that door.

They finished at 7-10 last season following a quarterback switch, but there’s more than just signal-calling that needs fixed in Atlanta.

14. Houston Texans (Week 11)

The Texans can’t afford to be bad this year after giving up their 2024 first-round pick to the Cardinals in a package to move up to No. 3 overall this past NFL Draft.

That doesn’t mean they won’t be.

QB C.J. Stroud and pass rusher Will Anderson are good additions to both sides of the football but won’t be enough to move the needle where Houston needs it to be in 2023.

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Ranking the Arizona Cardinals’ 2023 NFL opponents