The NFL season kicked off last night with the Bills rout of the defending Super Bowl champion Rams. The Cardinals haven’t even played yet and it’s already a good start to the season.
Our season officially gets underway on Sunday with the home opener against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. You’ve already seen my best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Redbirds, so now it’s time for my official predictions. Last year, I was two games off with my 9-8 prediction. Was happy to be wrong there.
No fun storylines this time—this is all about W’s and L’s. Will the Cardinals have more of the former or latter this season? Will they make it back to the playoffs? Read on to find out.
Week 1 – Home vs. Kansas City Chiefs
This one is simple: The Chiefs simply have too much firepower for the Cardinals depleted CB room, even without Tyreek Hill. I expect Kyler to have a good game, but it won’t be enough as Mahomes shreds the secondary. Cardinals lose, 31-21. Record: 0-1.
Week 2 – Away vs. Las Vegas Raiders
This should be a close game, but the Vegas crowd will be fired up for the Raiders home opener, and they’ll have the best player on the field in Davante Adams. He’ll be the difference with some big plays in the 4th quarter, while DeAndre Hopkins’ absence will be keenly felt. Cardinals lose, 26-23. Record: 0-2.
Week 3 – Home vs. Los Angeles Rams
I think the Cardinals can gut this one out at home with the Rams still nursing their Super Bowl hangover. Feel Kyler has a big game to partially redeem himself after the playoff game. Note: I think the Cardinals start 1-2 but they might beat the Raiders and lose this one instead. Cardinals win, 27-20. Record: 1-2.
Week 4 – Away vs. Carolina Panthers
This has gotta be the year we end our losing streak to the Panthers, right? They have talent on offense with CMC and DJ Moore, but Baker is a complete wild card. Either way, Kliff and Kyler should be able to take advantage of this relatively anonymous defense. Cardinals win, 28-19. Record: 2-2.
Week 5 – Home vs. Philadelphia Eagles
I think the Eagles are going to be a lot better than people think this season—maybe one of the best teams in the league. Hurts is ready to make a leap at QB with strong WRs and an elite O-line, and they have talent on D (hello, Haason Reddick!). The offense is fine but it’s not enough to overcome defensive struggles (this will be a refrain this season). Cardinals lose, 31-24. Record: 2-3.
Week 6 – Away vs. Seattle Seahawks
Yes, it’s a divisional road game, but Geno Smith isn’t scaring anyone (even if Metcalf and Lockett are still around), and this is maybe the least talented roster the Seahawks have fielded in the Pete Carroll era. Should be a solid win for the Redbirds. Cardinals win, 30-16. Record: 3-3.
Week 7 – Home vs. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees and Sean Payton are gone, but this will still be a tough game. The Saints roster has talent, especially on defense, and the Cardinals will have a short week with the game being on Thursday Night Football. But we have an ace in the hole: Hopkins is back. He’ll be the difference in a close Cardinals win. Cardinals win, 23-20. Record: 4-3.
Week 8 – Away vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are another team I think will have a better year than predicted—I like their new coaching staff and they have as much talent as anyone on offense. This looks like a shootout, but it’s an early East Coast game and the Cardinals corners are still bad. This seems like a likely loss to me. Cardinals lose, 33-27. Record: 4-4.
Week 9 – Home vs. Seattle Seahawks
Everything I said about Week 6 still applies, and the Cardinals are at home this time. Even with some obvious roster flaws, the Cardinals still have a lot more talent than the Seahawks and a sweep seems very possible, if not likely. Cardinals win, 31-17. Record: 5-4.
Week 10 – Away vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams should be rounding into playoff form by Week 10, so this will be a tough one for the Cardinals on the road. They’ll look better than they did the last time they were in L.A., but I still see this as a loss for the Cardinals. We just can’t contain Kupp and Robinson. Cardinals lose, 32-24. Record: 5-5.
Week 11 – Home vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have as wide a range of outcomes this season as anyone in the league. I could see them finishing under .500, or they could be a Super Bowl contender. It all depends on Trey Lance’s readiness and development. I think they’ll be a playoff contender and challenge for 10+ wins… but not this one. The Cardinals take it at home with one of their better defensive efforts of the year. Cardinals win, 25-22. Record: 6-5.
Week 12 – Home vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Everyone is predicting big things from the Chargers this year—including yours truly. Justin Herbert should be an MVP candidate, and he’ll have no trouble putting up big numbers against our corners, easily outdueling Kyler. The Cardinals will drop back to .500, where they’ll be for most of this season. Cardinals lose, 35-24. Record: 6-6.
Week 13 – Bye Week
Week 14 – Home vs. New England Patriots
The Cardinals have alternated wins and losses since Week 3, and I think that trend will continue this week. The Patriots have a good-not-great look about them, and they should be beatable at home. They just don’t have the QB or the weapons to take advantage of our defense and outscore Kyler and the offense. After the win, we’ll be a game above .500 at in the wild card picture. Cardinals win, 26-20. Record: 7-6.
Week 15 – Away vs. Denver Broncos
A road game in the Mile High city against Russell Wilson and a talented Broncos squad. What could go wrong? A lot. This looks like one of the tougher games on the Redbirds schedule, and one I think they’ll lose by double digits. Back to .500 and the fringes of the playoff hunt. Cardinals lose, 32-21. Record: 7-7.
Week 16 – Home vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are a lot of questions about the Bucs this season—Brady’s mysterious offseason absence, injuries on offense, new head coach (hello, Todd Bowles!). They should still be a playoff team, but they won’t be nearly as good as they have been the past couple years. I think the Cardinals can pull this one off at home on Christmas Day to get right back in the playoff race. Cardinals win, 30-27. Record: 8-7.
Week 17 – Away vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are rebuilding and will either be starting a journeyman on a mid-round rookie. They have some offensive talent, but even the Cardinals secondary should be able to handle this crew. The Cardinals should be able to finally string together a couple wins even though this is an early East Coast game. This could set up a win-and-we’re-in scenario in Week 18. Cardinals win, 31-20. Record: 9-7.
Week 18 – Away vs. San Francisco 49ers
To me, it comes down to this: If Trey Lance is still starting, he’s having a good year and the Niners will be tough to overcome at home. If it’s Jimmy G starting, he’s an accomplished passer… and the Niners will be tough to overcome at home. Either way, I think our two Achilles’ heels—pass rush and cornerbacks—will be exposed by Kyle Shanahan and we’ll drop this one to just barely miss the playoffs. Cardinals lose, 27-24. Record: 9-8.
Both the Rams (still think they win the division) and Niners make the playoffs, but neither win a game. The Bills beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl in Glendale with the Cardinals failing to make it three years in a row where a team wins the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Kyler and Budda are the only Cardinals to make the Pro Bowl. J.J. Watt battles injuries again, and Hopkins looks like he’s lost a step after he comes back. Keim and Kliff are never really in danger of losing their jobs, but the Cardinals do lose Vance Joseph, who does just enough with the defense this year to earn another head coaching job (in Carolina). But both Keim and Kliff enter the 2023 season near the top of the hot seat lists league-wide.
This team has talent, especially on offense, but I just see too many roster holes for this team to make the postseason. I want to believe, and I think we’ll be in the hunt, but I ultimately think we come up just short. Very much hope I’m wrong on this (again), though!
What are your predictions, RotBers? Do you see playoffs in our future, or no? Let us know in the comments.