Arizona Cardinals 2013 Schedule Analysis

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<p> Arizona Cardinals 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>

The Arizona Cardinals have a new head coach (Bruce Arians) and quarterback (Carson Palmer) this season. Will these and other personnel changes get them back to the playoffs? Here's our look at the Cardinals' 2013 NFL schedule.

Arizona Cardinals 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at St. Louis
Week 2: Detroit
Week 3: at New Orleans
Week 4: at Tampa Bay
Week 5: Carolina
Week 6: at San Francisco
Week 7: Seattle (Thurs.)
Week 8: Atlanta
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Houston
Week 11: at Jacksonville
Week 12: Indianapolis
Week 13: at Philadelphia
Week 14: St. Louis
Week 15: at Tennessee
Week 16: at Seattle
Week 17: San Francisco

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Out of the Gate: Arizona and first-year head coach Bruce Arians open the season on the road in St. Louis against the Rams in a NFC West divisional matchup. The next two games figure to be tough tests for Todd Bowles' defense as the Cardinals host Detroit and then go to New Orleans in Weeks 2 and 3. The first month of the season concludes with a second straight road game in Tampa Bay.

Toughest Stretch: October certainly could be a scary month for the Cardinals with a road game against defending NFC champion San Francisco, a Thursday night date with Seattle and visit from Atlanta falling in a two-week span before Arizona's bye week in Week 9. It doesn't get much easier after the break either, with Houston coming out to the desert in Week 10.

Swing Games: DET (Week 2), at PHI (Week 13)
Crossover Divisions: NFC West, AFC South
Bye Week: Week 9
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .520 (T-7th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 17th

Easiest Stretch: If Arizona wants to make any sort of noise in Arians' first season it will most likely have to happen in late November and early December. After the Cardinals host the Texans in Week 10, they get Jacksonville on the road followed by Indianapolis at home. The first Sunday in December has rookie NFL head coaches squaring off in Philadelphia with Arians matching wits with Chip Kelly, followed by a home game with the Rams and a Week 15 visit to Tennessee. A minimum of three wins out of this five-game stretch figures to be key to any hopes of improving on last season's five victories.

Circle The Calendar: Weeks 12 and 13 offer some intriguing matchups for the Cardinals' coaching staff. Arizona head coach Bruce Arians will be reunited with his former team when Indianapolis comes to town on Nov. 24. The Colts' offensive coordinator and interim head coach in Chuck Pagano's absence last season, Arians will now try to beat his former employer and players. Don't forget that in 2012 quarterback Andrew Luck broke the single-season record for passing yards by a rookie while under Arians' tutelage. The following Sunday it's the defense's turn, as coordinator Todd Bowles returns to Philadelphia, where he served in the same capacity for the Eagles last season following the dismissal of Juan Castillo.

Divisional Notes: Arizona opens and closes the regular season against NFC West opponents, starting with a road game in St. Louis and finishing with San Francisco. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the schedule has them facing Seattle and the 49ers in consecutive weeks twice. To make matters worse, the first encounter with the two projected Super Bowl contenders will take place in a span of five days as the Cardinals play at San Francisco in Week 6 and then turn around and host the Seahawks for the Thursday night game in Week 7.

Playoff Push: While the first part of December provides some winnable matchups (see Easiest Stretch above) for the Cardinals, the final two weeks of the regular season have them playing Seattle (road) and San Francisco (home) on consecutive Sundays. With the Seahawks and 49ers expected to be in contention for a top seed in the NFC playoffs, the Cardinals should expect nothing less than their NFC West foes' best shots.

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): The Cardinals’ get two NFC West division games sandwiched by a road trip to Tennessee for the fantasy playoffs. The good news is the Titans allowed the second-most fantasy points last season. The bad news is the Rams and Seahawks weren’t anywhere near as generous. That was especially the case with Seattle, who gave up the fewest fantasy points to QBs and second-fewest to WRs in 2012.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo (6/13) Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati (6/14) Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland (6/17) Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago (6/17) Atlanta (6/13) Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina (6/14) St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)

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Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

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