The Cards face a tough challenge with their 2013 schedule.
Three of the first four games are on the road, with only the Detroit Lions coming to Glendale during that time. Two of the last three games are on the road, and the season ends with the San Francisco 49ers coming to town.
Right now, looking at the way the schedule is going to play out, this certainly looks like a six-win season, even with the potential of a better quarterback in Carson Palmer and a new head coach in Bruce Arians, who will be looking to imprint his style on this team.
Given the overall strength of the NFC West, what originally looked like a steep challenge now looks like it will be an uphill battle all season. I originally figured the Cards would win maybe two games inside the division. I don't see Arizona winning more than three games on the road this season given its strength of schedule.
Hardly what the Cardinals would have hoped for after the disaster of 2012's 5-11 record. In some respects, this might stop the Cardinals from making any bad short-term moves to improve the team for 2013 that might negatively impact the Cards long term.
General manager Steve Keim and Arians are both intelligent enough to know that the Cards have been put in a tough spot. They could have a better team in 2013, win six games and still have no chance at the division.
Looking at the bye week in Week 9, it is hard to figure the Cardinals to be anything other than 2-6 or 3-5 going into it. It looks like the NFL schedule makers have their doubts about Arizona, giving the Cards only one national game, against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7. The fact that it will be a short week after playing the 49ers won't help.
Certainly not what Cards ownership or the fans could have hoped for after cleaning house on December 31.