The word rival has many definitions depending on the context. Most people would say the Arizona Cardinals’ rivals are the division rivals and maybe include the Dallas Cowboys for various reasons. I’m going to rank the Cardinals rivals both in the division and in a general sense with teams the Cardinals play this year. Hopefully you find the information below as interesting as I did conducting the research.
When ranking the NFC West rivals, I have the St. Louis Rams third. I feel they fall short in the run game and failed to replace Steven Jackson. I don’t hold any stock in Tavon Austin or their receiving core as a whole. Interestingly enough, they did have the best record against the NFC West and I contribute that to the stead-fast defense. They Rams finished in the middle of the league statistically on offense and defense. The Cardinals are 33-35-2 all-time against the Rams with points scored difference of 78. Playing the Rams tends to be a fist fight.
I have the San Francisco 49ers second this year. They added a ton of talent to put them over the edge this year but I think their Achilles will be Michael Crabtree’s injury and all of their opponents knowing their scheme causing Colin Kaepernick to be in harms way. I think he will take a step back in overall productivity. The 49ers worst ranking was passing at 23rd, and I think they will have to rely on that this year. The Cardinals are 17-26-0 all-time against the Niners.
Simple deduction leaves the Seattle Seahawks as the Cardinals’ top rival this season. They added a ton of talent, and health has been on their side thus far in the pre-season. I think Russell Wilson will stay relatively successful as last year either regressing a little which is to be expected but possibly being a little better with the injection of supporting talent, namely Percy Harvin.
Their worst ranking was passing as well, but I think Wilson is a better passer than Kaepernick and has much more talent to fetch his throws. The Cardinals are 15-13-0 all-time against the Seahawks but this Seahawk team is much different than years past and the Cardinals have struggled against them even when they weren’t very good at all.
Regarding the non-divisional teams, I have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their third best rival this season. I make this argument in the traditional sense and definition of rival (equal or better competitor: somebody or something that can equal or surpass another in a specific respect), as the Cardinals have an all time record of 8-9-0 with a point scored difference of only 11 points. Perhaps the long plane ride for both teams creates the close games, but most rivalries provide close games.
At number two, I have the Philadelphia Eagles, and not just because it’s the battle of the birds and that both teams have a long-tenured history but the Cardinals all time record is similar to the third team above but again longer tenured. The Cardinals are 55-54-5 all-time versus the Eagles with a point difference of a field goal per game.
Arguably, the Eagles could be number one if keeping with the original definition of rival but for the sake of NFC competition, I put the current top contender for the conference. The Atlanta Falcons may be the top non-divisional rival due to they are the team to beat in the NFC as a whole. I feel the Cardinals had one of the worst teams last year but they gave Atlanta a fight last year. Another battle of the birds, the Cardinals are 14-12-0 all time against the Falcons with a point difference of a field goal or less.
All stats are provided by CBS Sports and Pro-football Reference. All records are regular season records.