Arizona Cardinals 2013 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterApril 19, 2013

Arizona Cardinals 2013 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

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    The much anticipated 2013 regular-season schedule was just released for the Arizona Cardinals and the 31 other NFL organizations.

    Even though the Cardinals' regular season opponents have been known since January, the dates, times and network coverages were released yesterday at 8 p.m. ET.

    Here is a complete look at the 2013 schedule, with game-by-game predictions, information and analysis.

Week 1: Cardinals vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

    In 2012, the Arizona Cardinals brought in a four-game winning streak into the Edward Jones Dome. They had been piling up takeaways left and right, while doing just enough offensively. Fans and media members alike knew no team could continue to win games that way. 

    St. Louis decided they didn't want to become the next team to fall inside of this trap. So they went out and harassed quarterback Kevin Kolb to the tune of eight quarterback sacks. It's hard to imagine that happening again, but the Rams did lead the NFL in sacks last year, so Arizona's offensive line needs to prepare accordingly. 

    Protecting Carson Palmer against the daunting pass rush should be the biggest priority. Next, it should be making sure they win the field position battle. If those two things can't be done, it will be another long day in St. Louis. 

    Look for the Rams to narrowly escape thanks in large part to Greg Zuerlein's monster leg. 

    Prediction: Rams 21, Cardinals 20

Week 2: Lions vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

    Remember when Ryan Lindley led the charge, and the Arizona Cardinals ended their nine-game losing streak by beating the Detroit Lions? That sure was a memorable game that seemed to come out of nowhere. But much like their other four victories in 2012, they won the turnover battle and benefited from good field position. 

    The tale of this game will be eerily similar. Arizona will need to jump on the Lions' below-average defense, while putting up points of their own. Even though the Lions will be looking to address their secondary in the draft, the Cardinals should still have a heyday through the air. 

    Palmer's best game of the season should come against the Lions, as they have no answer for Arizona's wide-receiving corp. Also, look for Rob Housler to get heavily involved by winning one-on-one matchups over the middle.

    Prediction: Cardinals 28, Lions 24

Week 3: Cardinals vs. Saints

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    After starting the season with a loss in St. Louis, the Cardinals will be looking to put together their first multi-game win streak since Week 4 of the 2012 season. However, this won't be the week where it happens. 

    Traveling cross country, with an early start in a hostile environment, just doesn't spell success. Not to mention it becomes practically impossible when one throws Drew Brees and the Saints' aerial assault into the mix. 

    Controlling the ball and limiting turnovers helped New Orleans seal the victory in this one. 

    Prediction: Saints 33, Cardinals 20

Week 4: Cardinals vs. Buccaneers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    With one NFC South loss already in the books, the Cardinals will be looking to avoid another one in back-to-back road games. To do so they will need to keep running back Doug Martin bottled up in the backfield. In space, he has proven to be as dangerous as they come. 

    Despite knowing what they had to do defensively, Arizona didn't manage to execute its defensive gameplan. Poor tackling and blown gap assignments led to their defensive downfall. It's a shame, too, because Bruce Arians' offense had a complete game through the air and on the ground. 

    The loss moves the Cardinals to 1-3. However, now is not the time to give up hope. Three of Arizona's next four contests are at home.

    Prediction: Buccaneers 26, Cardinals 24

Week 5: Panthers vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

    Cam Newton was sensational as a rookie. He turned heads and made every throw in the book. But then 2012 happened. Teams figured out how to stop Newton on offense, and Ron Rivera's defense clearly collapsed time-after-time. 

    Given the fact the Panthers did little to upgrade its defense during the offseason, Arizona looks to have a clear advantage in this matchup. Dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball is something the Cardinals should have no problem doing, while also putting up a ton of points. 

    Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald will put on quite the aerial display as the Cards roll. 

    Prediction: Cardinals 24, Panthers 14  

Week 6: Cardinals vs. 49ers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

    Even though Brian Hoyer is longer under center, the Cardinals' chances at taking down the 49ers at Candlestick are slim to say the least. The 49ers have made it a point to add even more talent to a team that was the class of the NFC last season. 

    Let's not forget that the Cardinals have gotten better since the start of free agency as well, but have they done enough to be mentioned in the same breath as San Francisco? One would be crazy if they realistically thought this was the case. 

    Arizona will have to rely heavily on its vertical passing game because Rashard Mendenall and the Cardinals backfield won't be propelling them out front against the Niners' front seven. The 49ers jump out ahead early on and roll. 

    Prediction: 49ers 27, Cardinals 16

Week 7: Seahawks vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network

    Last year's win at home against the Seahawks wasn't pretty, but it signaled the start of the longest winning streak the Cardinals were apart of last season. Yet Arizona may not be as fortunate this time around at home. Russell Wilson steadily progressed as the season went on and the 'Hawks have added weapons on both sides of the ball.

    The offensive line will have to bring their "A" game because Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons will be looking to exploit the Cards off the edge. With few weaknesses across the board, this matchup will be an uphill battle for Bruce Arians' bunch.

    Todd Bowles' defense will need to create pressure and flush Wilson out of the pocket. When No. 3 has time and throwing lanes, it's a safe bet the Seahawks will put up points in bunches. Look for a close outcome with Arizona falling just short.

    Prediction: Seahawks 26, Cardinals 20

Week 8: Falcons vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

    After Week 5 last year, the Cardinals had very few opportunities to garner wins down the stretch. In one of the games in which they did, they squandered late-game chances, and Matt Ryan seemingly came back and led a game-winning drive with 6:40 left to play. 

    If the Cardinals want vengeance, they will need to force Ryan to throw five more interceptions and play error-free football. However, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. Sure, Arizona is capable of playing error-free football, yet it's unlikely Atlanta's quarterback will turn the ball over five times. 

    But it doesn't hurt to wish. Falcons win by three scores.

    Prediction: Falcons 34, Cardinals 17  

Week 9: Bye Week

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    Heading into their bye week, the Cardinals currently sit at 2-6.

Week 10: Texans vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

    If one were to take the time and think back to Sunday, October 11, 2009, they would remember a Cardinals win with Kurt Warner taking snaps under center. Unfortunately those days are long, and the Houston Texans have now matured into the team we all expected them to be.

    Out of the backfield Arian Foster proves to be an obvious threat, while Andre Johnson keeps opposing secondaries on their toes. Yet the Texans are far from an offensive juggernaut, which is why I expect the Cardinals to steal a win from them at home. 

    Watch for Michael Floyd to blow up as Houston's secondary will be keying in on All-Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald. 

    Prediction: Cardinals 21, Texans 20

Week 11: Cardinals vs. Jaguars

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    After a much-needed bye week to rest and regroup, Arizona came out firing and upset the Houston Texans in Week 10. One week later, they are shooting for their second attempt at picking up a multi-game win streak. 

    Thankfully enough, the woeful Jaguars are their Week 11 opponent. If Arizona were to lose this game it would be considered a let down, regardless if it's on the road or not. Thanks in large part to Todd Bowles' defense, Blaine Gabbert was skittish in the pocket. 

    His erratic decision-making skills and poor footwork cause him to throw a couple of interceptions. On one of them, Patrick Peterson turned into a returner and took it to the house for six. Besides that interception return touchdown, Arizona didn't need much more.

    Prediction: Cardinals 24, Jaguars 9

Week 12 : Colts vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

    No Peyton Manning, no problem for the Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck came in last season and stole the show as a rookie, while leading the Colts to another playoff appearance. Yet I feel winning on the road still poses a problem for the second-year quarterback, and Bruce Arians will be well prepared for a quarterback he coached just a seasons ago. 

    Arians' expertise will help defensive coordinator Todd Bowles design a gameplan that will expose Luck's flaws. Exposing his flaws will lead to turnovers, so capitalizing on those turnovers and turning them into points will be crucial. 

    Running back Rashard Mendenhall will help Arizona play keep-away by controlling the clock. The Cardinals win thanks to a strong defensive performance. 

    Prediction: Cardinals 28, Colts 20

Week 13: Cardinals vs. Eagles

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    Arizona's Week 12 victory over the Colts, now means they have won three games in a row. Not to mention the Cardinals are only one-game back of having a .500 record with four weeks left to play. However, the same problems that plagued Bruce Arians' bunch on their last long road trip plagued them again. 

    The time zone change, coupled with the early start, had the Cards all out of sorts. Two first-half turnovers put them in hole they were never able to dig out of. Even though Arizona's been able to win at home, they've proven to be lousy on the road. 

    Yet that shouldn't come as a surprise. Plain and simple, the Cardinals don't have enough talent to match up with some of the better teams in the NFC.

    Prediction: Eagles 28, Cardinals 19

Week 14: Rams vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

    In years past, the Rams and Cardinals have been closely matched from a talent standpoint, often splitting season series. Yet 2012 may have proved to be a changing of the guard as St. Louis captured the season series 2-0. 

    In all fairness, Ryan Lindley started one of those contests and Kevin Kolb was knocked around in the other. If Arizona wants recapture the upper hand, they will need to rely on Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians' aerial attack to exploit the Rams.

    However, St. Louis led the NFL in sacks last season, so if the offensive line falters, so will the Cardinals.

    Prediction: Rams 28, Cardinals 25

Week 15: Cardinals vs. Titans

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    A lousy road performance Week 13 against the Eagles, must have been the wake up call Arizona needed. Against the Titans they came out firing, and they didn't let any of the mental barriers stop them from being successful. 

    The Cardinals came out running the ball down Tennessee's throat. By the end of the first quarter, running back Rashard Mendenhall had already found the end zone twice—a welcomed sight, as Mendenhall struggled to get going early on in the season. 

    Despite a grounded aerial attack, all Arizona needed was to rely on its ground game and play keep away from Jake Locker and company. 

    Prediction: Cardinals 26, Titans 20

Week 16: Cardinals vs. Seahawks

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

    As Seattle presses on, they will look to stay undefeated at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have not notched a victory at CenturyLink Field since 2009. And this year may prove to be no different than the last three years.

    The Seahawks have rolled through the competition at home. No member of the National Football League was able to beat Seattle on their home turf. With few overall weaknesses all the way around, Arizona will need to be perfect in execution. 

    Playing turnover free football at the CLink is never easy to do, but that's what it will take to leave town with a win. Additionally, they will need to force a few turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. While I believe it can be done, I don't believe it will happen this year. 

    Too many deficiencies as a team to overcome it. 

    Prediction: Seahawks 24, Cardinals 22 

Week 17: 49ers vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

    With the NFC West seemingly getting tougher by the day, Arizona will need to hope its offense is fine-tuned and ready to go against divisional opponents. Against the 49ers last year, the Cardinals managed to score one offensive touchdown in two games. 

    So it goes without saying, three points will not get the job done against San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick has the ability to beat defenses in a myriad of ways, and any mistake the Cardinals make will be capitalized upon. 

    While home-field advantage in the desert is a nice thought, it won't matter. Arizona doesn't have the offensive firepower needed to hang with Niners. 

    Prediction: 49ers 38, Cardinals 27

Final Predictions

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    Final Record: 6-10

    Bruce Arians' first year as a head coach wasn't exactly ideal. Obviously, he would have liked to win more games. But that's often the way it goes when a team experiences influx at the quarterback position and along the offensive line.

    Let's not forget the NFC West is arguably the toughest division in football. Another year of good drafting from Steve Keim and Arians will get this offense where it needs to be. The key will be to find a franchise quarterback for the 2014 season.

    Palmer is a nice short-term solution, but you won't win any Super Bowls with him.