There are many that question the idea of an Arizona Cardinals return to the playoffs, lamenting the growing age of some of their key offensive players.
This is all relevant and not overlooked, but one thing that seems to be or maybe just is disregarded by those expecting a fall is… the Arizona Cardinals, on paper, have a really, really easy schedule in 2017
“Any schedule analysis for the Cardinals must consider the boost they get by playing the Rams and 49ers twice. It works wonders for any average strength of schedule. However, the Cardinals play just four top-10 games this year (Seahawks twice, Cowboys and Titans) and three of those four are at home.”
The Cardinals have, again on paper, the fourth easiest schedule in the NFL.
One reason a potential fall may be premature, is that the Cardinals would have to either match the level of their competition, or the bad teams on their schedule would have to play at a higher level than expected heading into 2017.
Both are possible, however, if you're planning on the bad teams staying bad, then it is hard to see a fall below .500 for a second consecutive year for the Arizona Cardinals. If that happens, then maybe the time has truly passed on the Cardinals window.
One last point, the Cardinals demise being premature because of ease of schedule needs to also be applied to the Seattle Seahawks. They have the second easiest schedule in the NFL heading into 2017 according to Sharp.
The NFC West, if they are as good as we think, should have two teams in the NFC playoffs. Then we'll see if it was ease of schedule, or if the NFC West is back on top of the NFC.