The Arizona Cardinals have been handed the seventh-toughest schedule for the 2013 season. On top of playing in a improving league’s toughest division, the Cardinals foes will be the NFC South, AFC South, the Detroit Lions, and Chip Kelly’s new Philadelphia Eagles.
There is one game on the Cardinals’ schedule that should be an automatic win with all their talent. That win should come in week 11 at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Teams like the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles and the Tennessee Titans have the talent to be decent teams that can beat the Cardinals but can lose to them just as easily.
Teams like the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints will test the secondary. Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, and Drew Brees will give them all they can handle and keep the unit on their toes.
Most of the teams the Cardinals will play have good enough defenses to be able to hold their own, so the offensive line will be put to the test week in and week out. If the line can come together and play as a unit then the season is going to be a year full of fun and excitement that football fans love watching.
However, if they can’t mesh then its going to be a long year and possibility worse then last season.
Looking at the schedule, three teams who I believe can upset the Cardinals are the Detroit Lions, the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Daryl Washington out in all those games, the offensive line still possibly coming together, the secondary also possibly still coming together and the whole team in a new scheme, these are three teams who can pull off upsets.
The Detroit Lions didn’t do too well last year with the team they have, and I for one believe they will have a bounce-back year. Matthew Stafford is still throwing the ball to Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Nate Burleson.
Last season, Stafford threw for 4,967 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also rushed for 126 yards, and some view this season as a make-or-break year for him.
The Lions added Reggie Bush to the mix to help take some of the load off Stafford and Jahvid Best. Plus, they still have Mikel Leshoure who rushed for 798 yards last year. If the Cardinals are still finding themselves in Week 2, then the Lions will win this game easily. After this game the Cardinals every well could be 1-1 if not 0-2.
Last season the Saints still had a good team in place, but with the Bountygate scandal, they lost head coach Sean Payton for the entire season. It’s safe to say that it was noticed by everyone.
With the return of the team’s foundation (Sean Payton) and the emotional stink still lingering in the locker room, expect Payton to calm the choppy waters of an upset establishment. Even with the year they had, Drew Brees still threw for 5,177 and 43 touchdowns.
They have what is called the best three-deep set backs in Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Darren Sproles. Also they still have Marques Colston, Lance Moore, and Jimmy Graham. Rob Ryan’s defensive’s haven’t really worked out for him over the years but this unit of guys should work out well once they get the scheme down & Rob being a Ryan, he’s going to do all he can for greatness. I expect the Saints to take their anger out on every team they come acrossed. After week three the Cardinals can very well be 1-2.
In Week 4, the Cardinals will be on the road for the third time out of four games and with the second straight road game they will be facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs will be getting starters Davin Joseph, Carl Nicks, and Adrian Clayborn back on the offensive line.
Doug Martin did a good job last season being a rookie and with the return of the starters to the line, I’m sure he’s looking to become a house hold name. Tampa’s coaching staff believes drafted rookie, nose tackle Akeem Spence should fit prefect in their system with Gary Gibson and Derek Landel being solid veteran defensive tackles to help out.
GM Mark Dominik seems to love up and coming linebacker Dekoda Watson. Dominik said “Watson is a phenomenal athlete with impressive speed.” The front office signed Dashon Goldson and traded for Darrelle Revis.
The Buccaneers very well might be able to compete for the NFC South title. If so the Cardinals just might be 1-3 at the end of the first quarter of the 2013 NFL regular season.
Even with the schedule, it’s possible for the Cardinals to post a winning record but at the same time even with a winning record they can missing the playoffs all together. Winning the NFC West might be nothing more then wishful thinking, so I’ll be happy for a Wild Card spot.