The Cardinals improved to 8-8 in 2020 in the second season with coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray. The jump from 5-10-1 was impressive and put Arizona on the brink of an NFC wild-card spot.
With that, there will be greater expectations for the Cardinals to break out when navigating through their 2021 NFL schedule. They got into third place behind the NFC West-winning Seahawks and wild-card Rams, thanks to the fade of the injury-riddled 49ers.
What is Arizona’s realistic projection for the upcoming season? Here is a complete breakdown of the Cardinals’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.
Arizona Cardinals schedule 2021
Here is the Arizona Cardinals’ complete schedule for 2021.
|1||Sept. 12||at Titans||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|2||Sept. 19||vs. Vikings||4:05 p.m. ET||Fox|
|3||Sept. 26||at Jaguars||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|4||Oct. 3||at Rams||4:05 p.m. ET||Fox|
|5||Oct. 10||vs. 49ers||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|6||Oct. 17||at Browns||4:05 p.m. ET||Fox|
|7||Oct. 24||vs. Texans||4:25 p.m. ET||CBS|
|8||Oct. 28 (Thursday)||vs. Packers||8:20 p.m. ET||Fox/NFLN/Amazon|
|9||Nov. 7||at 49ers||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|10||Nov. 14||vs. Panthers||4:05 p.m. ET||Fox|
|11||Nov. 21||at Seahawks||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
|13||Dec. 5||at Bears||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|14||Dec. 13 (Monday)||vs. Rams||8:15 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|15||Dec. 19||at Lions||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|16||Dec. 25 (Saturday)||vs. Colts||8:15 p.m. ET||NFL Network|
|17||Jan. 2||at Cowboys||1 p.m. ET||Fox|
|18||Jan. 9||vs. Seahawks||4:25 p.m. ET||Fox|
The Cardinals have to go through the gauntlet of the division with six of their now 17 games coming against the Seahawks, Rams and 49ers. Outside of the division, the NFC West rotation draws all of the NFC North and AFC South.
As a third-place team, the Cardinals also get the Panthers and Cowboys from the NFC. Their extra AFC game is against a strong returning wild-card team, the Browns.
Cardinals strength of schedule
The Cardinals are tied with the Titans in having the 13th-toughest schedule in the NFL. Arizona’s 2021 opponents went a combined 138-134 in 2020, for a .507 winning percentage. The Rams and Seahawks have it a little tougher, while the 49ers have it a lot easier.
Seattle and Los Angeles give Arizona four games against reigning playoff teams. Green Bay, Chicago, Indianapolis, Tennessee and Cleveland raise that total to a whopping nine.
Toughest tests: Division games are always tough on the road. The Cardinals’ other daunting away games are at the Browns, Bears, Cowboys and Titans. Arizona doesn’t get many breaks at home, either, where Green Bay, Indianapolis and Minnesota are the top non-division visitors.
Biggest breaks: The Cardinals getting the Texans and Panthers at home helps. So does getting the Jaguars and Lions on the road. They need those games with the brutal slate otherwise.
Bottom line: The Cardinals’ schedule is harder than it looks because teams such as the 49ers, Cowboys and Vikings all will be better in 2021. Murray and Kingsbury have clicked well together to lead the offense, but the defense is undergoing more transition. There’s bound to be some regression with more traps, and last season’s late fade isn’t inspiring.
Record prediction: 6-11