The Arizona Cardinals 2023 schedule is out. Most fans and observers are predicting a season of rebuilding. Seth did a quick run-through and has us penciled in for a 6-11 record against the 11th-toughest schedule in the league (by 2022 record).
Of course, it’s impossible to say just how tough our schedule will be right now—there’s still four months to go before the season even begins, and then things always change week-to-week once the games start.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to guesstimate how tough, how winnable, each game will be. Today, I’ll take a quick look at each matchup and rate it on a 1-5 scale:
- 1 = Extremely favorable matchup, should be an easy win
- 2 = Solid matchup for us, good chance to win
- 3 = Could go either way
- 4 = Tough matchup, would be very hard to win
- 5 = Extremely difficult matchup, almost a certain loss
I did something similar back in 2021, only with a 1-10 scale. But 1-5 seems simpler. Let’s dive in.
Week 1 – Road at Washington Commanders = 3
If you wanted to rate this one a 4 instead of a 3, I wouldn’t argue much. This is a road game and we’ll likely be without Kyler Murray. But the Commanders will likely be starting the unproven Sam Howell at QB with coach Ron Rivera on the hot (or at least warm) seat and a Vegas over/under of 6.5. There are tougher road matchups than this out there.
Week 2 – Home vs. New York Giants = 3
I know the Giants were a playoff team last year and Daniel Jones just signed a big new deal, but this team still doesn’t really scare you, especially at home. We’ll probably still be without Kyler but maybe the new defense can make things ugly and keep things close. The G-Men will be favored, but this seems more or less like a toss-up.
Week 3 – Home vs. Dallas Cowboys = 4
This is the first truly tough matchup on the schedule. Cowboys fans always show up to State Farm Stadium in droves and they have a playoff roster. We might be double-digit underdogs even if we have Kyler back. The only thing keeping this from a 5 is that it’s at home and key Cowboys are seemingly always hurt.
Week 4 – Road at San Francisco 49ers = 5
I know the 49ers QB depth chart is uncertain right now, but this team had a chance at making the Super Bowl with Mr. Irrelevant under center last year. The rest of the roster is good enough that QB probably won’t matter all that much in this game. It’s on the road and the Niners will be coming off a mini-bye, having played on Thursday Night Football the week before. You can almost mark this one down as a loss right now.
Week 5 – Home vs. Cincinnati Bengals = 4
This one is close to a 5 as well with the dangerous Joe Burrow–led offense and the Bengals with a Vegas over/under of a whopping 11.5, tied for the highest in the league. But it’s at home and you’d think there’s at least a chance Kyler is back by now. We’ll be big underdogs but an upset isn’t completely ludicrous.
Week 6 – Road at Los Angeles Rams = 4
Yes, the Rams were terrible last year but Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald are still around and will be looking to bounce back big-time. Plus divisional road games are always rough. This’ll be a tough one, Kyler or not.
Week 7 – Road at Seattle Seahawks = 5
Yep, that’s two divisional road games in a row. The Seahawks were one of the breakout teams last season and added reinforcements in the draft in Devon Witherspoon and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Geno Smith is as efficient as they come and Seattle is one of the toughest places to play in the league (even if we have had success there in the past). I don’t see us as having much of a shot in this one.
Week 8 – Home vs. Baltimore Ravens = 4
The newly extended Lamar Jackson comes to town with a new offensive coordinator and new receiving weapons in tow. Even if Kyler is back and Jonathan Gannon and Nick Rallis have the new defense playing well, it’ll be tough to hang with the Ravens. The schedule has been brutal so far, but it does get a little easier coming up.
Week 9 – Road at Cleveland Browns = 3
This is the first game lower than a 4 since Week 2. Deshaun Watson was a huge flop in his first season in Cleveland, although you’d think he’d be at least a little better with a full offseason and being a year removed from his suspension. The Browns have some pieces but they’re no juggernaut. We should have a shot in this one, and you have to think Kyler is back by this point.
Week 10 – Home vs. Atlanta Falcons = 2
Spoiler alert: There are no 1 matchups on the schedule this year. There are no “easy wins” for rebuilding teams. But this is the most winnable game on the schedule. The Falcons are also rebuilding and will be starting Desmond Ridder or Taylor Heinicke at QB. We’re at home and we should have Kyler back. We might even be favored in this one by the time Week 10 rolls around!
Week 11 – Road at Houston Texans = 3
I almost went with a 2 for this one, but this team doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt on road games, even if the Texans are predicted to be one of the worst teams in the league. This is one of the most fascinating games on the schedule for us given the draft-day trade that netted us their 1st-rounder next year. Win or lose, our draft stock improves.
Week 12 – Home vs. Los Angeles Rams = 3
The Rams are tricky to predict this year. Will their veterans stay healthy and return to form? Or will they see the writing on the wall and begin to embrace the rebuild? Let’s just call this home game a 3 for now and move on.
Week 13 – Road at Pittsburgh Steelers = 4
The (relatively) easiest part of the schedule is over as the Redbirds have a tough road game to go before getting to their incredibly late bye week. The Steelers project as a middle-of-the-pack team with a Vegas over/under at 8.5, but the Cardinals will be gassed and this is a dreaded early kickoff East Coast game.
Week 14 – BYE WEEK
Week 15 – Home vs. San Francisco 49ers = 4
The only things in the Cardinals’ favor here are that it’s a home game and we’re coming off our bye week. Otherwise, the Niners will likely be fine-tuning for a playoff push while the Cardinals might be looking ahead to the draft.
Week 16 – Road at Chicago Bears = 4
I almost went with a 3, as the Bears have a Vegas over/under of 7.5, but this is a road game in Chicago in December. That’s… not ideal. Plus the Bears are a team on the upswing and, again, there’s a very good chance the Cardinals will already have one eye on the offseason.
Week 17 – Road at Philadelphia Eagles = 5
I almost went with a 4 because the Eagles played on Monday Night Football the previous week, so the Cardinals will have one more day of re—nope, just kidding! This is probably the toughest game on the schedule this year with the Eagles looking once again like a Super Bowl team and the Cardinals playing a second East Coast road game in a row. Yikes.
Week 18 – Home vs. Seattle Seahawks = 4
Man, good thing the Cardinals almost certainly won’t be trying to make a playoff push this year—these last four weeks are pretty brutal. At least the two divisional games are at home. Maybe the Cardinals can play spoiler here… or maybe they roll over and just get to the offseason.
If you crunch the numbers, the average difficulty for the Cardinals this season is 3.8/5. That sounds about right for a team currently not favored in a single game next season. After this exercise, I think Seth’s prediction of 6 wins might be a smidge optimistic.
What do you think, RotBers? You know what to do: vote in the poll and drop a comment.
How many games will the Cardinals win in 2023?
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4 or fewer
8 or more