Critical Stretches of the Cardinals' 2008 Schedule

Sept 7th @ San Francisco 4:15
Sept 14th Miami 4:15
Sept 21st @ Washington 1:00
Sept 28th @ NY Jets 1:00
Oct 5th Buffalo 4:15
Oct 12th Dallas 4:15
Bye Week
Oct 26th @ Carolina 1:00
Nov 2nd @ St. Louis 1:00
Nov 10th San Francisco 8:30
Nov 16th @ Seattle 4:05
Nov 23rd NY Giants 4:15
Nov 27th (Thurs) @ Philadelphia 8:15
Dec 7th St Louis 4:15
Dec 14th Minnesota 4:05
Dec 21st @ New England 1:00
Dec 28th Seattle 4:15

The 2008 schedule will no doubt provide some obstacles for the Cardinals. The divisional carousel lands on the NFC & AFC East this year. The NFC East was one of only two divisions that sent three teams to the playoffs in 2007 and the Eagles (the one team that didn't make the playoffs) has only had one losing season since 2000. The AFC East consists of the only undefeated team since 1972 (New England), the upstart Bills and the struggling Jets and Dolphins. The rest of the schedule is filled out with fellow second place finishers Carolina and Minnesota. There are several stretches of the season that jump out at me as critical portions to a (hopefully) successful season.

Quick Start:

The start to the season looks primed for a quick start. The first five games includes just one playoff team from 2007 (Washington), and the overall combined record of the five teams is a paltry 26-54. The toughest two weeks of these five games will be back to back road games in Washington and New York. I would imagine the team will stay in the north east in between those two games instead of flying cross country twice in a week. While it may seem like a tough task to expect a quick start with 3 road games in the first 5 weeks, but there are some things working in the Cards favor. The Jets will be coming off a short week and a long cross country trip after they play a Monday Night game at San Diego before the Cards. The Bills could also have an odd travel schedule before they play in Arizona because they have a road game in St. Louis the previous week. The sixth week of the season will bring Dallas to town and it could be a long season if the Cardinals aren't at least 3-2 if not 4-1 going into that game.

November:

The month of November includes 3 divisional games, two of which are on the road. It's also a month that'll include both of the Cardinals' prime time games.  It starts with a road game in St. Louis who will be coming off a brutal two game stretch with Dallas at home and a road game in New England. The Cardinals then get San Francisco at home in the only Monday Night game of the season for both teams.  San Francisco will be coming off bye but they could already be buried by that point considering that they'll have played 4 playoff teams from 2007 (in eight games).  The third straight divisional game is a road affair with the Seahawks. Seattle could be a little road weary though as they'll have just returned from a road game in Miami. With Seattle the clear cut favorite in the West, and a road win in their house would go a long way to helping the Cardinals surprise the division. Starting with the Seahawks game, the Cardinals play 3 games in 11 days since they drew the Thanksgiving Day game this year. After a road trip to Seattle the Cardinals come home to play the Giants and then have a four day turnaround to play at Philly. The Eagles will have a much shorter trip since they're previous week includes a road game at Baltimore. It's tough anytime a team has to play 5 games in a month, especially when 3 of them are on the road. Needless to say, if the Cardinals can pull out a 3-2 record in November it would have to be considered a great success.

It's nearly impossible to predict how difficult a team's schedule is before the season begins but there are no doubt some stretches that are critical to the success of the season. Thoughts?

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