The Arizona Cardinals wrap up the season in the final five weeks with three road games, starting week 13 in Atlanta against the Falcons. The Cards defeated the Falcons in Arizona in 2013 27-13. The Cards return to the site of a 2012 loss in which they started out with a 13-0 lead thanks to Falcons turnovers. This time, I expect it to be much different.
The Cards still have a great defense but now are expected to move the ball much better. I also expect quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons to be a much better team in 2014. They were clearly one of the most disappointing teams in 2013. They had to deal with the injury bug. They lost receiver Julio Jones for the season and now they have to deal with the retirement of tight end Tony Gonzalez. Cardinals 22 Falcons 19
In week 14 the Cards come home to face the Kansas City Chiefs. This could end up being one of the more entertaining games of the season. Quarterback Alex Smith will always leave you guessing. He rarely throws interceptions but sometimes he has trouble getting the offense to move the ball. I think the Cards defense will lay it on though. Cardinals 31 Chiefs 10
Week 15 happens for the Cards just four days later on Thursday Night Football in St. Louis against the Rams. The Cards lost a tough one there in 2013 in the season opener 27-24, blowing a 10-point fourth quarter lead. This is on the national television stage though. The Cards haven’t fared well on Thursday Night Football the past couple of years. I think they’ve turned a corner. Cardinals 20 Rams 6
The next big test for the Cards comes on Sunday Night Football at home against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks won pretty handily in Glendale on Thursday Night Football in 2013 but remember that was right before the Cards went on their win streak. I’m going to say the Cards will win this one after tasting bitter defeat in Seattle earlier in the season. Cardinals 23 Seahawks 16
The Cardinals finish the season on the road against the San Francisco 49ers. This will be the fourth time in five seasons the Cards have ended with the Niners. This game truly could go either way depending on where each team is in the standings. I do think the Cards will play it close but come up short once more. I’ll give the Niners this one. Niners 27 Cardinals 20
Based on my predictions, the Cards will finish 11-5. I think that’s a fair assessment given we all expect the Cards to be better in 2014. Last season I said the Cards could finish anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6 before the season started. This year I think I would give a range of 8-8 to 12-4. I would like to think they are on the higher end given the progression we expect. Then again though, these are the Arizona Cardinals.