Power Ranking the Cardinals' 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Hardest
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals' 2013 schedule has been released, and it looks like it will be a tough season ahead for the team.
The Cardinals will battle their NFC West rivals, the NFC South, the AFC South as well as Detroit and Philadelphia based on standings. Arizona has the seventh-toughest schedule (tied with Miami) as opponents were a combined 131-121-4 last season for a .520 winning percentage.
Arizona opens with three of its first four on the road and has its bye on Week 9. The Cardinals' lone prime-time appearance is Week 7 when they host Seattle on Thursday night.
The easier games are at the beginning of the slideshow, and the harder ones are closer to the end.
Start the slideshow below and see where each game lands in our power rankings.
16. Week 11 at Jacksonville
Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars take on the Cardinals.
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Arizona takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars for the first time in four years in what should be the easiest game of the season. It's the second game in a three-game run against the AFC South and should provide the Cardinals with an easy win.
The Jaguars offer little offensive firepower—after star running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Both of these teams finished in the bottom four of the offensive rankings last season. The Jaguars also had a porous defense, yielding 6,088 total yards last season.
The other thing that makes this the easiest game of the season is that it comes later in the season, and Jacksonville might not have a strong record at that point.
15. Week 13 at Philadelphia
LeSean McCoy and the Eagles battle Arizona in 2013.
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Arizona meets Philadelphia this season in a battle of last-place teams. The Eagles will be a different team with Chip Kelly at the helm but how different it will be remains to be seen.
Philadelphia quarterbacks were not terribly effective last season, and the Cardinals' defense made Mike Vick's game against them a real tough one last season.
The Eagles will come into this game off of their Week 12 bye and in the midst of a four-week stretch where they have three home games sandwiched around the bye. Philadelphia might get a little too comfortable with all that time at home, and Arizona could take advantage.
Philadelphia could also be rather worn out when the Cardinals come calling as well, and they might overlook Arizona as they have three games against the NFC North waiting for them after that game.
14. Week 15 at Tennessee
Johnson (center) and the Titans host the Cardinals.
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The Titans will get a visit from Arizona, and star running back Chris Johnson will be waiting for them. After Johnson, the Titans don't have much to offer in terms of offense. They lost tight end Jared Cook to the Rams. Wide receiver Kenny Britt has a record of problems with his knees and the law so the Titans have question marks on offense.
They were a team that finished in the bottom third of the league in rushing and passing yards for. They also were picked apart in the ground and air game by opponents last season so the potential is there for the Cardinals to take care of business against the Titans.
This will also be the Titans' first home game after a tough three-game road swing when they visit Oakland, Indianapolis and Denver before hosting Arizona. How much will the Titans have left in the tank in mid-December?
13. Week 2 vs. Detroit
Calvin Johnson and the Lions will take on Arizona for a second straight year.
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The Lions were the only team Arizona beat following its 4-0 start with a 38-10 win late in the season. Detroit is going to bring Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson back to the desert for a return engagement. Reggie Bush will join them at running back, and the Lions could have a high-flying offense.
This is going to be the Cardinals' home opener so the emotions should be high. Arizona was also able to limit Calvin Johnson in their matchup last season.
Yes, despite Johnson this is one of the easier games this season.
12. Week 14 vs. St. Louis
Sam Bradford and the revamped Rams take on Arizona twice.
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The first NFC West rival hits the list at 12th spot in the rankings when Arizona hosts St. Louis.
The Rams are a team that Arizona has beaten before and usually plays in tight competitive games. It will be interesting to see how they perform without Steven Jackson in the Rams' backfield.
This is also a Rams' team that's been mediocre both offensively and defensively for the last few years, and Arizona should have it easier in the late-season home game.
11. Week 5 vs. Carolina
Newton returns to the site of his first professional game.
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Cam Newton and the Panthers come calling in Week 5. Newton returns to the arena where he made his professional debut and threw for more than 400 yards. Steve Smith will also give the Cardinals' secondary some coverage challenges, but Carolina doesn't have much else to offer in the passing game.
Running backs DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart could make it a tough day for Arizona, and the Cardinals will have to be ready for the read option as well.
This is the lone home game in a four-game span for Arizona, and Carolina will have two weeks to prepare for this game as their bye comes before the Panthers take on Arizona.
This game would be higher because of Carolina's ground game but the other opponents Arizona faces in 2013 are much tougher.
10. Week 1 at St. Louis
The Rams defense gave the Cardinals trouble in St. Louis.
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The Cardinals' visit to St. Louis comes in here on the power rankings. The season-opening game will be tougher because we don't know yet how the Cardinals will come together through training camp.
Additionally, the opening week of the season can be more difficult to try and predict what might happen. With it being a divisional game as well, this game is about the middle of the pack in terms of difficulty.
9. Week 4 vs.Tampa Bay
Doug Martin (center) finds the end zone.
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The Buccaneers will be a tough matchup for the Cardinals as they will have to find a way to shutdown running back Doug Martin. Arizona has to find a way to be productive against a team that is in the upper half of the of the league in rushing and passing.
The other thing that makes this game difficult is that Tampa was the best team against the run last season, and Arizona will have to rely on its ground game to keep the Tampa offense on the sidelines.
With this being Tampa Bay in September, there's also a chance of heat and humidity which can drain the team quickly.
Bye Week: Week 9
Arizona has a bye week on week XX.
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Halfway through the countdown, we'll take a break here and let everyone know Arizona's bye week is Week 9 in 2013.
The last time the Cardinals had a Week 9 bye was 2006. They won the opener over San Francisco before dropping its next seven games. Arizona finished 4-4 after the bye to end up with a 5-11 record.
That was also the last season that Arizona had a starting quarterback from the University of Southern California under center for most of the snaps.
Will history repeat itself with the same bye week and Carson Palmer under center?
8. Week 8 vs. Atlanta
Julio Jones (left) and Roddy White (right) visit Arizona in 2013.
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Arizona will have a rematch with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. The Falcons downed the Cardinals last season and could do it again. They added Steven Jackson, the former division nemesis, in free agency to replace the aging Michael Turner.
Add to that the talented wide receiver tandem of Julio Jones and Roddy White, and the Cardinals will have a tough game on their hands against the Falcons. Atlanta made it to the NFC Championship Game a year ago and will give Arizona all it can handle.
The Cardinals almost beat Atlanta last season in a turnover-filled game. They won't get that many second chances again, so this will be a tougher game in 2013.
7. Week 12 vs. Indianapolis
Andrew Luck and the Colts come to Phoenix.
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Start the hype machine now for the Bruce Arians Bowl. The emotions involved make this a tough game, but this would be the third straight week that Arizona tangles with the AFC South.
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis passing game will be tough to handle, but they'll have 10 days to prepare for Arizona which seems to be a recurring theme.
The Cardinals will have their chances against a weaker Colts defense, but it might not be enough to keep them step-for-step with Luck, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and the rest of the Indianapolis offense.
6. Week 3 at New Orleans
The Cardinals visit the Saints.
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The Cardinals march into the Superdome for the first time since their last playoff game.
Drew Brees and a high-octane offense will be waiting, and there are question marks about whether the Arizona defense can keep up with a Saints team that threw for more than 310 yards per game last season. Marques Colston and Lance Moore could give Arizona fits in the secondary.
The offense should be able to move the ball easily as New Orleans was the worst defensive team in football last season. The question remains whether or not Palmer and the offense can keep pace in what could be another shootout of a game in the Superdome.
5. Week 10 vs. Houston
Arian Foster takes a bow after finding the end zone.
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The Texans come calling in Week 10 and will bring a loaded team with them. Arian Foster will be difficult for the Cardinals to contain. Andre Johnson will keep Patrick Peterson and the secondary busy.
The Arizona offense will have to find ways to keep J.J. Watt in check, and Ed Reed now patrols the secondary for the Texans so the passing game for Arizona might have little time to work.
The Texans have never won in their lone trip to Arizona in team history, but this matchup looks like Houston will break through into the win column in the Grand Canyon State.
4. Week 7 vs. Seattle—Thursday Night
Arizona will need answers for Marshawn Lynch.
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The other divisional rivals are all that remain. Marshawn Lynch just might go beast mode on the Cardinals. Percy Harvin in the passing game gives quarterback Russell Wilson another legitimate threat in the passing game.
Arizona beat Seattle in Phoenix last season, so it's possible the Cardinals might be able to pull it off again. But it certainly will be much more difficult this season. Seattle finished in the top 10 of rushing and passing defense so the Arizona offense will have a tall task. The defensive line with Red Bryant and newly-acquired Cliff Avril will put the Arizona offensive line up to the test.
This is going to be tough as it's on a short week after the Cardinals visit San Francisco. Yeah, this is going to be a divisional doozy.
3. Week 17 vs. San Francisco
Gore looks for room in the Super Bowl.
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The Cardinals also get to play the NFC champions twice this season, and the season finale is a home game against the 49ers.
It's another game with a divisional rival that features a fierce defense that will give Arizona's offense fits. Add to that the mobility of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the receiving capabilities of Michael Crabtree and seeing former Cardinal Anquan Boldin with a rival, and this will be a super-tough game.
About the only good thing about it is that it's at home and is the final week of the season where the 49ers might not have anything left to play for.
2. Week 6 at San Francisco
Kapernick and the 49ers will give Arizona a tough game.
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The only thing harder than the 49ers at home is the 49ers in San Francisco. Arizona will have to find ways to shut down running back Frank Gore as well.
Their defense could be even better with the acquisition of Glenn Dorsey from Kansas City and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha from the Eagles.
Add to that the mountain of draft picks the 49ers have and this team could continue to build a team that could be even stronger than they are now.
1. Week 16 at Seattle
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks were all smiles.
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The last time Arizona went to Seattle they got shellshocked 59-0. The thought of going to Seattle in December to face the Seahawks is just a scary one to say the least.
The road atmosphere in Seattle combined with a tough opponent and the fact Arizona hasn't won there since 2009 make this the toughest game of the season.