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NFL schedule quirks for the NFC West teams

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes as center Patrick Lewis (65) blocks Arizona Cardinals' Calais Campbell (93) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

After soaking in the release of the NFL schedules on Thursday, we took a few in-depth looks at the appealing and the problematic of the Arizona Cardinals’ 2016 season.

But what about some of the Cardinals’ biggest rivals?

Here’s the weird, the wacky and the curious quirks of the NFC West schedules.

Take it easy on ’em

The Seahawks may have a tough schedule overall, but the first month couldn’t be much better with just one playoff opponent from a year ago in the first nine games — a Week 7 matchup against the Cardinals is the only one.

A cupcake schedule, indeed.

Most difficult stretch

Under first-year coach Chip Kelly, the poor San Francisco 49ers rank in the top-5 in worst three-week, four-week and five-week stretches, according to Sharp Football Analysis.

They have the second-worst first month with a home game in Los Angeles followed by road games in Carolina and Seattle, then a home game against Dallas.

Who needs to ring up the airline miles?

San Francisco will travel 25,328 miles. It didn’t help that the non-division away games ship the 49ers to Carolina, Buffalo, Miami, Chicago and Atlanta.

Visits to Miami and Chicago come in back-to-back weeks, leading Kelly to consider keeping his team’s circadian rhythms in sync out east a la the Cardinals at Greenbrier last season.

“There’s a lot of studies done on your circadian rhythms, and how to get your clock set and all those other things,” he said. “It’s easy if you’re there for an extended period of time to get acclimated to that time.”

For comparison, the Cardinals will travel 23,966 miles, which is 2,044 fewer than last season.

Strength of schedule

The weight of the NFC West put every team in the top-7 for the NFL’s toughest 2016 schedule based on last year’s winning percentage.

Tied for the seventh-toughest schedule, the Cardinals have the easiest schedule in the division by playing teams with a winning percentage of 53.1. The Seahawks are tied for the fifth-toughest (54.3 percent), the Rams have the third most difficult (55.1 percent) and the 49ers are tied with the Falcons with the toughest regular season (55.5 percent).

Prime-time kings

Seattle will get the most prime-time coverage of the NFC West squads with five prime-time games.

The Seahawks play the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 7 on NBC’s Sunday Night show. They host the Bills on Week 9’s Monday Night Football before another Sunday prime-time game at New England.

Pete Carroll’s squad plays a Week 13 home game against the Panthers and in Week 15 hosts the Rams on Thursday night.

Good byes?

Arizona’s bye week comes comfortably in Week 9, after a tough stretch against Todd Bowles’ Jets, the Seahawks and in Carolina. The 49ers’ bye falls in Week 8 as does the Rams’, but Seattle’s comes early in Week 5.

Worst opponent byes

For a rematch of the NFC title game, the Carolina Panthers host Arizona coming off their Week 7 bye while the Cardinals head into the Sunday showdown on a week’s rest.

Similarly, the Seahawks head to Foxboro in Week 10 to face the Patriots after New England’s bye week and on short rest after a Monday night showdown against the Bills.

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