Arizona Cardinals schedule analysis
Breakdown: The Arizona Cardinals were the only NFC team left off the "Monday Night Football" schedule. That was understandable after Arizona lost 11 of its final 12 games last season. The Cardinals did draw a prime-time home game against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 17, a Thursday night matchup on NFL Network. That's the only night game on the schedule.
The Cardinals open at the St. Louis Rams before playing their home opener against the Detroit Lions. The Rams have a young team that could still be finding its way offensively that early in the season. The presence of a new coaching staff in Arizona will make it tougher for the Rams to prepare, a potential plus after Rams coach Jeff Fisher and staff proved to be well prepared for division opponents in 2012.
Having a bye week between home games in the middle of the season should let the Cardinals recover from a difficult start to the season.
Complaint department: The Cardinals play four of their first six games on the road, including three of their first four. Once the damage is likely done, Arizona returns home for games against Seattle, Atlanta and Houston. That's a brutal start to the season for first-year coach Bruce Arians. The Cardinals will not play a road game between Oct. 14 and Nov. 16. They get eight home dates, same as everyone else. But that start is rough. The Cardinals also play three of five December games on the road.
Circled on the calendar: The 58-0 defeat Arizona suffered at Seattle in last December rocked the organization. General manager Steve Keim pointed to that game as an experience that will stick with him in a "never again" way. You can bet the Cardinals will play a much more competitive game when they visit Seattle on Dec. 22 this season. That one should be circled on the calendar. It's important for the Cardinals to put forth a respectable effort this time around, win or lose.
Cardinals Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 8, at St. Louis, 4:25 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Detroit, 4:05 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Carolina, 4:05 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 7: Thursday, Oct. 17, Seattle, 8:25 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, Atlanta, 4:25 p.m.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Houston, 4:25 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Indianapolis, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at Philadelphia, 1:00 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, St. Louis, 4:25 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Seattle, 4:05 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.