When the Arizona Cardinals 2011 NFL schedule (I am still hopeful that the season will happen) was released a while back, it looked a bit favorable in some ways. They close out the season with four out of their last five games at home and they, based on 2010 win/loss records once again have the easiest schedules in the entire NFL. They do have one thing that will be an obstacle in the schedule. They are scheduled for five Sunday morning starts (at 10 or 11AM Arizona time) during the season.
ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando wrote about the uphill battle that West Coast teams have with the NFL and scheduling. The Cardinals have not been ones to love early games on the East Coast.
Ken Whisenhunt thinks that teams in the West have a more difficult time. "From having been an East Coast team that played in the NFC West when I played for Atlanta, it was much easier going East to West than it is going West to East," Whisenhunt told me at the NFL owners meeting in March. "In my opinion, for what it does to your body and getting ready to play, it is more difficult."
The Cardinals since 2005 have been a bad road team to begin with, going 16-32 over the past six seasons. However, they have gone 8-19 in games starting at 10 or 11AM locally. Playing in the later games, they are 8-13.
This season has them playing early in Washington, Minnesota, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Cincinnati. That would be every single non-division road game.
I don't know your thoughts on the subject, but I think, while there is a difference to be dealt with, I don't think it really affects the competitive balance of things overall. I think the issues stem from average or bad teams being a little less prepared. Good teams find ways to overcome that. That's hard to say because outside of the San Diego Chargers, much of the football in the West the past few years has been bad.
More than anything else, the early start times are an annoyance to me personally. I attend church in the morning and get home a little after noon. I have to watch the road games on delay and have to fight checking my phone to get updates. But that's just me.
Does anyone else have anything to say on the topic? Fair or foul on the West going East games?
Here is a rundown of the Cardinals 2011 schedule.
Week 1: Panthers @ Cardinals, Sunday, Sept 11, 4:15 PM ET on FOX
Week 2: Cardinals @ Redskins, Sunday, Sept 18, 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Week 3: Cardinals @ Seahawks, Sunday, Sept 25, 4:15 PM ET on FOX
Week 4: Giants @ Cardinals, Sunday, Oct 2, 4:05 PM ET on FOX
Week 5: Cardinals @ Vikings, Sunday, Oct 9, 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Steelers @ Cardinals, Oct 23, 4:05 PM ET on CBS
Week 8: Cardinals @ Ravens, Oct 30, 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Week 9: Rams @ Cardinals, Nov 6 4:15 PM ET on FOX
Week 10: Cardinals @ Eagles, Nov 13, 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Week 11: Cardinals @ 49ers, Nov 20, 4:05 PM ET on FOX
Week 12: Cardinals @ Rams, Nov 27, 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Week 13: Cowboys @ Cardinals, Dec 4, 4:15 PM ET on FOX
Week 14: 49ers @ Cardinals, Dec 11, 4:05 PM ET on FOX
Week 15: Browns @ Cardinals, Dec 18, 4:15 PM ET on CBS
Week 16: Cardinals @ Bengals, Saturday Dec 24, 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Week 17: Seahawks @ Cardinals, Jan 1, 4:15 PM ET on FOX