2017 Arizona Cardinals game-by-game predictions

Remember, it’s April. Let’s repeat: it’s April. These game-by-game predictions could change by time the Arizona Cardinals kickoff in Detroit, but for now, Arizona is facing a friendly schedule that is the 23rd hardest in the league. A home schedule chock full of winnable games could help the Cardinals return to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET

The Cardinals’ offense will be retooled but just as powerful as it’s been in recent years. The Lions are a different team than the one the Cards blew out two years ago but Arizona gets through the season open with a road win. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

Emotions will be flowing in Bruce Arians’ return to Indianapolis for the first time since he was the Colts’ interim coach in 2012. The Cardinals will feed off them and not want to let their coach down in another road win. Record: 2-0

Week 3: Monday, Sept. 25, vs. Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m. ET

With one of the Cardinals’ toughest stretches of the season behind them, they return home for a prime-time game on Monday Night Football that’ll feature the two best running backs in the game — Arizona’s David Johnson and Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott. This will also be the second time these two teams meet, having already faced off in the Hall of Fame Game in early August. While this game will be a showcase of the ground game, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be too much for Arizona to handle. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m. ET

There usually isn’t a better way to recover from a loss than by hosting a team that’s struggled and is just four games into a first season with their new coach. Arizona will return to its winning ways. Record: 3-1

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. ET

The Cardinals’ first cross-country road trip comes in Week 5. It’ll be their first chance to see if they have gotten over the East Coast woes that plagued them in 2016. Couple the three-hour time difference with a talented young quarterback and the Cardinals will go down. Record: 3-2

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m. ET

Arizona beat the Buccaneers at home last season and will do so again in 2017 thanks to an intimate knowledge of Tampa Bay. Record: 4-2

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, vs. Los Angeles Rams (in London), 1 p.m. ET

The Cardinals will face NFC West foe Los Angeles at Twickenham Stadium in London. It’ll be another long (read: very long) flight across the country then across the Atlantic Ocean but, again, how the veterans can respond to the travel will dictate this game. The Rams win in a close one. Record: 4-3

Week 8: Bye

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, at 49ers, 4:05 p.m. ET

And yet again, the Cardinals find themselves facing the 49ers after a loss, this time after a bye and on the road. Arizona will be refreshed and take it out on San Francisco. Record: 5-3

Week 10: Thursday, Nov. 9 vs. Seattle Seahawks, 8:25 p.m. ET

Coming back from a road game — even one against the 49ers — will be tough on short notice, especially against a division rival like Seattle. This game could go a long way in having an early effect on the division standings. The Cardinals can’t overcome the short week, even at home. Record: 5-4

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, at Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET

This is where the Cardinals enter one of the easier stretches of their schedule, and a string of games that could propel them into the playoff picture. A win over Houston will set the stage for three straight home games. Record: 6-4

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:25 p.m. ET

The first of a three-game home stand will be against a Jaguars team that will be improved but not good enough to go on the road and upset the streaking Cardinals. It’ll also be the return of Calais Campbell to the stadium where he spent nine seasons. Record: 7-4

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, vs. Rams, 4:25 p.m. ET

Facing the Rams in friendly territory will go a long way in helping Arizona run its winning streak to three. It’ll be tough for either team to sweep and this is the game the Cardinals claim. Record: 8-4

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, vs. Tennessee Titans, 4:05 p.m. ET

Despite facing another talented young quarterback for the third straight week, the Cardinals win their fourth straight game by simply overwhelming the Titans. By this point in the season, the Cardinals will find themselves in prime real estate for a playoff berth. Record: 9-4

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. ET

Not only will the Cardinals get back on the road this week, they’ll have to fly cross-country to our nation’s capital and play outdoors in winter conditions. The combination of the three won’t produce a win. Record: 9-5

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, vs. New York Giants, 4:25 p.m. ET

Are the Cardinals back in the NFC East again? After returning from a cross-country trip to face Washington, they face the Giants, who have had success in Arizona. The road team will win the fifth straight meeting of these two teams. Record: 9-6

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. ET

This may end up being the most important game of the season for the Cardinals — and likely the Seahawks, as well — as it could be for all the marbles in the NFC West. Or it could be a victory lap for Arizona’s second division title in three years. Record: 10-6

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