Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.
Arizona Cardinals 2012 Schedule:
Week 1: Seattle
Week 2: at New England
Week 3: Philadelphia
Week 4: Miami
Week 5: at St. Louis (Thurs.)
Week 6: Buffalo
Week 7: at Minnesota
Week 8: San Francisco (Mon.)
Week 9: at Green Bay
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Atlanta
Week 12: St. Louis
Week 13: at New York Jets
Week 14: at Seattle
Week 15: Detroit
Week 16: Chicago
Week 17: at San Francisco
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- Arizona must survive its early schedule because six of the Cardinals' toughest games will come after Week 7. After opening with NFC West foe Seattle at home, the Cardinals have to make the long trip east to face New England on its home turf and then turn back around and host Philadelphia at home.
- The Cardinals' next four games are manageable as they will take on two other AFC East teams — Miami and Buffalo — at home along with trips to St. Louis and Minnesota. If Arizona can find a way to win three out of these four, that would go a long ways towards possibly making something out of the 2012 season.
- After the Week 7 date in Minnesota, Arizona's schedule really begins to toughen up. The first of two extremely difficult three-game stretches opens with a Monday nighter against defending NFC West champions San Francisco, followed by a trip to Green Bay. The Cardinals will get to lick their wounds come Week 10 during their bye week, but it's back on the road that next week in Atlanta.
- The fact that Arizona gets both the AFC East and NFC North as its round-robin opposition this season does them no favors, but when you add floating games against the Eagles and Falcons, it could be argued that the Cardinals have one of the toughest non-divisional slates this season of any team in the NFL.
- Starting in Week 12, Arizona reacquaints itself with division rivals Seattle and St. Louis, sandwiched around its final AFC East match up, a road game in New York against the Jets. After that it's a brutal three-game stretch to conclude the regular season. The Cardinals get NFC North members Detroit and Chicago back-to-back at home before finishing on the road against the 49ers in San Francisco.
- With a schedule like this, .500 would be a reasonable goal for the season. Anything above that, especially a playoff berth, would be considered quite the accomplishment for head coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff.
Fantasy Focus: Larry Fitzgerald is already one of the top wide recievers in the NFL, as he's posted five straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Arizona drafted Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd in the first round in this year's draft, hoping to pair the rookie with the All-Pro and form one of the league's deadliest pass-catching duos. The good news for both Fitzgerald and Floyd is that there should be plenty of opportunities to do some damage this season. Nine of Arizona's 2012 opponents ranked among the top half of teams in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2011. New England gave up the most, followed by Minnesota and Green Bay. Detroit, Chicago, Miami, St. Louis, Atlanta and San Francisco also finished among the top 16 teams in this category. And remember, the Cardinals play the Rams and 49ers twice.
— by Mark Ross, published on June 6, 2012
2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers