Marginal road competition for the Cardinals
An underrated but important point. Okay, the Cardinals will play their division rivals on the road and in hostile environments. Although they’re as good as the other teams in the NFC West, they’re going to be tough outings, nonetheless.
But other than the Tennessee Titans, the Cardinals should have little trouble with their road games. You may point to the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys, two projected contenders. And it’s a fair point. Only both teams had defenses that gave up a lot of points in 2020, with the Cowboys giving up 473 and the Browns allowing 419. Despite finishing 11-5 and making the playoffs, Cleveland finished the 2020 season having given up more points than they scored.
The other road opponents are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Lions. The Jaguars will struggle, despite a lot of hope in Duval County given the rebuilding process. The Bears have a quarterback controversy of their own. When will rookie Justin Fields start, and when he does, how good will he be? Some felt Fields needed another season at Ohio State.
Finally, there are the Lions. And this season, they don’t have Matt Prater to kick a game-winning field goal against the Cardinals.
But all jokes aside, there is a new regime in Detroit along with a marginal quarterback and a defense that gave up more yards and points than the 2008 team that finished 0-16, which is not easy to do.
Overall, you can argue the Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers are the most talented teams Arizona will face on the road this season. The Cowboys and Browns must improve on defense, while the Bears, Lions, and Jaguars don’t look as threatening in 2021.
And if the Cardinals stuff running back Derrick Henry early against the Titans on Sunday, and they have the talent to do so, Tennessee will probably struggle in Week 1.
(All numbers courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference)