The Arizona Cardinals have the second most difficult strength of schedule in the NFL, just behind Super Bowl champs and division rivals, the Los Angeles Rams. Not only do the Cardinals play the Rams twice, but they also have to take on the grueling AFC West, which could arguably be the best division in football.
Arizona has four primetime games, including a matchup in Mexico against NFC West rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. They also host Tom Brady and the Bucs on Christmas night.
It’s no surprise that three of Arizona’s toughest games are against AFC West teams, and one is the Cardinals’ first matchup against the Rams early in the season. The other is the SNF Christmas showdown against Brady and the gang.
Surprisingly, all but one are home games.
Arizona Cardinals Toughest Games
1. Week 1 — Cardinals vs. Chiefs
The Cardinals kick off the season with one of its most challenging games — their home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. This will be Arizona’s first game with its new defense sans DE Chandler Jones. The Cardinals will also be without star WR Deandre Hopkins because of his six-game PED suspension.
So, we will see if Murray and his new wide receiver Marquise Brown still have the same chemistry from their college days at Oklahoma.
The Cardinals play the Chiefs every four years, marking this the first regular-season meeting between Murray and Mahomes. It is also the first time Mahomes goes up against coach Kliff Kingsbury, his former college coach at Texas Tech.
The Cardinals are 0-1 against Mahomes after the Chiefs defeated the Cardinals in 2018 in Kansas City. The Cardinals’ overall record against the Chiefs is 3-9-1.
2. Week 2 — Cardinals at Raiders
Arizona faces another AFC West team in week 2, this time on the road playing its first game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas against the Raiders.
The Raiders had a busy offseason building their roster, like the addition of Jones, making this the first time Jones faces the Cardinals since signing with the Raiders.
It will be another game for Arizona without Hopkins, and the Raiders will have their new wide receiver, Davante Adams.
The difference for the Raiders? Since signing Jones in addition to Maxx Crosby, they now have two of the league’s most elite pass rushers, making the Silver and Black’s defense much more dangerous than Arizona’s.
The Cardinals lost to the Raiders at home when they last played them last in 2018. The Cardinals’ overall record against the Raiders 4-6.
3. Week 3 — Cardinals vs. Rams
The home game against the Rams will be the first time the two meet in the season, and it will also be the first time the two have met since the Cardinals’ loss to them in the 2022 NFC Wild Card game. The Cardinals lost to the Rams twice last season, including the playoff game; both losses were without Hopkins. Arizona did defeat the Rams at home last season.
To make matters even worse, Pro Football Focus ranked the Rams as having the fourth most talented roster in the NFL.
The Cardinals might have a better chance of defeating the Rams the second time around when they take them on in Week 10. They will have Hopkins back and have several games under their belts The Cardinals’ overall record against the Rams is 39-37-2.
4. Week 12 — Cardinals vs. Chargers
One week after having to take on the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico, the Cardinals will host the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Chargers are another AFC West team that had big free agency signings in the offseason.
They added Khalil Mack to the defense, making Mack and Joey Bosa one of the most feared pass-rushing duos in the league. The duo could give Murray and the offense a run for its money.
The Cardinals will likely struggle against such a young offense and dynamic defense. Pro Football Focus lists them as having the third most talented roster in the NFL.
Arizona lost to the Chargers in Los Angeles in 2018, their last meeting. The Cardinals’ overall record against the Chargers is 4-10.
5. Week 16 — Cardinals vs. Bucs
This isn’t just any game, this is Sunday Night Football game on Christmas Day.
It is also the first time Tom Brady will play against the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. The GOAT rarely plays against the Cardinals, especially in Arizona on a special SNF Christmas matchup.
Aside from the media attention on this game, Tampa Bay has one of the most complete rosters in the league and impressive player retention. Pro Football Focus has Tampa Bay with the second most talented roster in the NFL.
Brady has only played against the Cardinals twice — back in 2004 when he beat them at Sun Devil Stadium and when he lost to them in 2012 at home.
The Patriots did play the Cardinals two other times but without Brady. The quarterback sat out once due to injury in 2008 and then again for his Deflategate suspension in 2016.
Brady has winning records against every team except four, including the Cardinals. The Cardinals’ overall record against the Bucs is 11-10.
Arizona Cardinals’ Special Betting Odds
For Arizona sports bettors looking to make some special wagers on the Arizona Cardinals in the upcoming season, BetMGM sportsbook has a team season specials section. This section includes betting odds on if the Cardinals will win all of their home or away games, among other bets.
Win All Home Games: Yes +3000
Win All Road Games: Yes +4000
Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire