The 5: Most intriguing parts to Cardinals’ schedule in 2024

May 15, 2024, 5:41 PM | Updated: May 16, 2024, 3:45 pm

The 2024 NFL season is that much closer with the Arizona Cardinals’ schedule release on Wednesday.

As Cardinals fans start marking those calendars and planning upcoming road trips, here’s a look at the most intriguing parts to Arizona’s slate this year:

Kliff Kingsbury’s return to Arizona in Week 4

The easy ones go first over here at Arizona Sports, and you won’t find one that ranks higher than the Cardinals’ Week 4 matchup against the Washington Commanders thanks to the return of former head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The now-Washington offensive coordinator is back in the league following his 2022 firing after his fourth season on the job in Arizona. The ex-head coach went 28-37-1 and made one postseason appearance (Wild Card) as the Cardinals’ lead man.

Getting some time away from football — and reportedly the country — he landed with USC as a senior offensive analyst in 2023 and worked alongside eventual 2024 No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams before embarking on his current endeavor.

But wait, there’s more!

On top of Kingsbury’s return, Arizona State Sun Devils fans will get a chance to see former signal caller Jayden Daniels lead the charge for Washington.

The No. 2 overall pick cut his teeth at ASU from 2019-21 before transferring to LSU and winning the Heisman Trophy this past season.

In three seasons at ASU, Daniels completed 62.4% of his throws or 6,025 yards and 32 touchdowns to 13 interceptions.

Jim Harbaugh and the Bolts in Week 7

You know who else knows a thing or two about the storied NFC West division?

Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who took over the reins of the Los Angeles Chargers this offseason.

Harbaugh has a proven track record in both the NFL and college ranks, having gone 44-19-1 across four seasons with the 49ers — making it to Super Bowl XLVII in 2012 — and most recently winning a national championship at Michigan.

But not having coached at the NFL level since 2014, how much of a feeling-out process is there going to be for the Chargers head coach?

This isn’t the same Chargers squad of years past, either, with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler among the biggest offseason departures for L.A.

Add in the fact that this Week 7 tilt will take place on Monday Night Football and the things just got much more interesting.

The young guns scattered across the schedule

Speaking of Daniels, Arizona has quite a few rookie signal callers on the docket in 2024.

Aside from the Commanders signal caller, the Cardinals expect to face Chicago’s Caleb Williams (No. 1 overall pick), New England’s Drake Maye (No. 3), Minnesota’s J.J. McCarthy (No. 10), all of whom went in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft this past April.

Who’s going to be this year’s C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young? There are certainly more than enough options to consider.

Arizona faces off Daniels in Week 4 and Williams in Week 9 before McCarthy in Week 13 and Maye in Week 15.

The litmus tests

It’s not hard to weed out the contenders in the 49ers (Weeks 5 and 18) and Detroit Lions (Week 3) when looking at Arizona’s slate of 2024 opponents.

A pair of juggernauts that met up in the NFC Championship game last year, the 49ers and Lions present a tough challenge and true test to see where exactly the Cardinals stand against some of the league’s best.

We saw the Cardinals run all over the 49ers in their final tilt against one another of last year. Can they make it a complete effort and make some noise in the division?

And can Arizona prove it’s on its own upward trajectory that’s been on display in Detroit in recent seasons?

Sample size or not, the outcomes of these two games are going to say a lot about this version of the Cardinals.

One last ride?

On the opposite of the young guns, you’ll find Aaron Rodgers, who embarks on his 20th NFL season after recording just one snap as a New York Jet before tearing his Achilles in 2023.

He and the Jets with meet with the Cardinals in Week 10.

Now healthy, the question centers around whether or not Rodgers can still perform at a high level, keep his focus on the field and stay ahead of Father Time for another year.

Because if he can, New York will be a scary team to watch given the pieces around Rodgers offensively and on the defensive side of the ball.

As for the signal caller’s record against Arizona, Rodgers is just 3-2 behind 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns to two interceptions on 60.2% passing.

He’ll get what could be his final chance to improve that mark when the Cardinals and Jets face off.

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