The Arizona Cardinals could get off to a fast start this season thanks to some negative circumstances surrounding their foes
At first glance, the early part of the Arizona Cardinals’ 2017 schedule looks ominous. It begins with two road games, never an easy way to get the year underway. Following that is a Monday night contest with the Dallas Cowboys, a team that went 13-3 last season and won a very competitive NFC East.
But a closer look reveals that those first three matchups may not be as tough as they appear. As a matter of fact, a 3-0 record heading into a week four date with the lowly San Francisco 49ers isn’t an impossibility.
Week one features a tangle with the Detroit Lions, a club that ended 2016 with four consecutive defeats. Matt Stafford’s squad did finish with a 9-7 record, good enough to earn them a spot in the playoffs. Detroit’s showing in the postseason however consisted of an unimpressive 26-6 throttling administered by the Seattle Seahawks.
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The Cardinals have dominated the series with the Lions dating back to 2006. They’ve triumphed the last seven times that the two franchises have met, the most recent being a 42-17 drubbing at Ford Field in October of 2015. Furthermore, the Cards are 3-0 against Detroit under head coach Bruce Arians, including a 14-6 win with Drew Stanton starting at quarterback in 2014.
Week two features a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to take on the Colts. The good news here is that Colts’ starting quarterback Andrew Luck may miss the game due to lingering complications from offseason shoulder surgery. Arizona made mincemeat out of Luck and Indy the last time they met in 2013, a 40-11 blowout in the desert.
The NFL handed the Cardinals a gift for week three. Their home opener against Dallas seems more winnable now that Ezekiel Elliott is scheduled to miss it. Barring a successful appeal, the running back will serve a six-game suspension for his off-the-field indiscretions.
Much has changed since this past April when the league schedule was first revealed. Change that has been beneficial to the Cards. It’s now up to Arians and the boys to take advantage of their good fortune once the season rolls around.