The Arizona Cardinals were the talk of the NFL in September 2012, as they went the first quarter of the season 4-0. Everyone was talking playoffs. The defense was playing out of its mind. The offense was doing just well enough to get by. Then came October and everything fell apart on the way to a 5-11 finish. This season, the Cards probably won’t see a 4-0 start given the competition, however don’t expect a 5-11 finish either. These Cardinals are better.
Week 1 – @ St. Louis Rams:
Everyone will be pumped on both sides. It should be a competitive game. The Rams will be starting running back Daryl Richardson in the first regular season game without Steven Jackson. Rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin will eventually be a force to be reckoned with. The Cards meanwhile will have Carson Palmer leading the way behind center. With a five-headed rushing attack, the Cards should see some great balance. This one will be close, but I’ll give the edge to the Cardinals 20-17.
Week 2 – Detroit Lions:
What better way to open the home portion of the schedule than to invite the Lions to town? The Cards have had their way with the Lions the last couple of visits to Arizona and winning a total of four straight. Last year, the Lions were the only Cards victory after September. I certainly don’t think it’ll be anywhere near the blowout it was last season at 38-10, however I still see the Cards walking away with the win 27-20.
Week 3 – @New Orleans Saints:
The Superdome is always a tough place for anyone to play and the Cards are no exception. Unfortunately this is where I see the Cards getting their first loss of the season. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has all his weapons and his coach and the Saints will be out with something to prove. Saints win 34-16.
Week 4 – @Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
This one could go either way. It is hard to say exactly how the Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman will play this season. The variable here in my mind is the road. Tampa wins 35-21.
Week 5 – Carolina Panthers:
Staying in the NFC South, the Cards finally get another home game. This time it is Cam Newton and the Panthers. The last visit to Arizona for the Panthers was Newton’s rookie debut in a 28-24 loss. I sort of expect the same type of game. The records can be thrown out the window when these two meet. I’ll go Cards at home though 32-28.
Week 6 – @San Francisco 49′ers:
It’s the road. It’s the Niners. The Cards have gotten better but the Niners haven’t gotten any worse. Niners 27-14.
Week 7 – Seattle Seahawks:
This is a Thursday night affair on national television. This is the best chance to beat Seattle. It’ll be close. Russell Wilson is greatly improved since his last visit to Arizona to start the 2012 season. I’ll be a homer here and go Cards 21-20.
Week 8 – Atlanta Falcons:
Matt Ryan and company come to town for the first time since the Wild-Card playoff loss on January 3, 2009, which was Ryan’s rookie season. The Falcons are a well-oil machine, however if you get them into any kind of trouble, they look beatable. The Cards came away with six turnovers in their 23-19 loss, a game in which they once led 13-0. The lack of an offense sunk the Cards in that one though. They have a much better one now. Is it enough to make a difference? I say yes and because it’s at home headed into a bye week. Cards win 31-28.
Week 9 – bye
Week 10 – Houston Texans:
Houston’s defense is tough. Their offense can score points when it wants to. This one could go either way. Since it is coming off a bye week for the Cards, they probably play better than expected. It’s a tough one to call, but once again I’ll give the nod to the Cards 24-23.
Week 11 – @Jacksonville Jaguars:
Given that the Jags aren’t a very good team and many who don’t believe in the Cards would give the Cards this game. I think the opposite. If they’ve been on some kind of roll against much better quality opponents, this would be the type of game that could have a let down. I’m still not sure the Jags are a good enough team though. I’ll take Cards 30-21.
Week 12 – Indianapolis Colts:
It’s Bruce Arians against the team he coached to a 9-3 record during his interim status and what eventually gave him the Coach of the Year award in the NFL last season. It will be a distraction to some extent I’m sure. The Cards aren’t going to win them all and may even lose a couple I predicted wins for. Andrew Luck is the real deal. They have speed receivers. I think the win streak comes to an end here. Colts take it 27-12.
Week 13 – @Philadelphia Eagles:
Cards take their team to Philly and play an up-tempo Chip Kelly offense. The Cards have owned the Eagles over the last couple of years. That will change at some point. This one is in Philly in November. It will probably be a chilly one. Tempo could be too much for Cards to handle on the road. Eagles win 35-17.
Week 14 – St. Louis Rams:
It’ll be payback time for the Rams. They are too good to not split with their division foes. Plus they’ve played well in Arizona over the past couple of seasons, winning last season but getting beat in overtime two seasons ago. Rams aren’t afraid of coming to Arizona. Rams win 26-23.
Week 15 – @Tennessee Titans:
How much will have Jake Locker matured by this point? If he stays injury free, I’d say quite a bit. However the Cards will be riding a losing streak coming into this one. They will be desperate for a win. I’ll give it to the Cards 19-16.
Week 16 – @Seattle Seahawks:
It’s December. It’s in Seattle. It won’t be 58-0 like last season’s debacle, however the Cards just can’t win here no matter the personnel. Not against a team this good with a fan base that strong. Hawks 30-17.
Week 17 – San Francisco 49′ers:
This game makes the difference between going 9-7 or 8-8 for the Cardinals. Who wins this game in my opinion depends on the playoff situation for both teams. My best guess is this game will be close to meaningless to the Niners, who will have wrapped up the division most likely. The Cards could be fighting for a wild-card spot. Maybe. Cards will most likely be playing all the starters for the full-game here though if they are fighting for a winning-record at best. Cards get their first win over the Niners in a couple of years 27-21.
So, there you have it. The Cards go 9-7. Optimism reigns here no doubt. This team could go anywhere from 7-9 to 10-6 really. It is a tough schedule but that stretch of no road games after October 13th until November 17th will probably tell the story of this season for the Cards. I have them losing a couple of home games but also winning a couple of road games some may not see them winning. There’s just still too much unknown with the Cards. So today, it is just a best guess. Go Cards!