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Cardinals’ 2010 Regular Season Schedule

Let’s get right to the schedule, with analysis to follow (all times ET):

Week 1: Sun.,9-12/ Cardinals @ Rams/4:15 p.m./ FOX

Week 2: Sun.,9-19/ Cardinals @ Falcons/ 1:00 p.m./ FOX

Week 3: Sun., 9-26/ Raiders @ Cardinals/ 4:15 p.m./ CBS

Week 4: Sun., 10-3/ Cardinals @ Chargers/ 4:15 p.m./FOX

Week 5: Sun., 10-10/ Saints @ Cardinals/ 4:05 p.m./ FOX

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Sun., 10-24/ Cardinals @ Seahawks/ 4:05 p.m./ FOX

Week 8: Sun., 10-31/ Buccaneers @ Cardinals/ 4:15 p.m./ FOX

Week 9: Sun., 11-7./ Cardinals @ Vikings/ 1:00 p.m./ FOX

Week 10: Sun., 11-14/ Seahawks @ Cardinals/ 4:15 p.m./ FOX

Week 11: Sun., 11-21/ Cardinals @ Chiefs/ 1:00 p.m./ FOX

Week 12: Mon., 11-29/ 49ers @ Cardinals/ 8:30 p.m./ EPSN, MNF

Week 13: Sun., 12-5/ Rams @ Cardinals/ 4:15 p.m./ FOX

Week 14: Sun., 12-12/ Broncos @ Cardinals/ 4:15 p.m./ CBS

Week 15: Sun., 12-19/ Cardinals @ Panthers/ 1:00 p.m./ FOX

Week 16: Sun., 12-25/ Cowboys @ Cardinals/ 7:30 p.m./ NFLN

Week 17: Sun., 1-2/ Cardinals @ 49ers/ 4:15 p.m./ FOX

Sure, the Cardinals have the weakest schedule in the NFL in terms of opponents’ records, but the start is going to be rough.  Specifically, the Cards begin the season with three of their first four games on the road only to finally come home in week 5 to host the Super Bowl Champion Saints.  That’s not an easy task for any team, let alone one that’s trying to set out on solid ground after a tumultuous off-season.  There is hope, however, as the Cardinals set their best away record in franchise history last year by going 6-2 on the road.

The first pivotal point of the season, not surprisingly, will be week one against the St. Louis Rams.  This would have been a tune up game for the 2009 Cardinals and it may still be for the 2010 version.  An early stumble, however, against a weak division foe could have the mob calling for Leinart’s head early.  To make matters worse, Arizona has historically suffered from a lack of focus in the season opener.  It’s tough to think that the Cards will actually lose to the Rams, but it’s even tougher to think of what will be said about the fledgling quarterback and the team as a whole if they do.  In addition, a week one loss would make a week two trip to Atlanta against a tough opponent even worse; visions of an ugly 0-2.

The next tipping point will likely be weeks 4-5, where we’ll get the first good look at what the 2010 Cards really have.  Whether the team is 3-0 or 0-3 at that point, the Chargers away and the Saints at home will indicate how this team will fare against two playoff caliber teams.

The bye is nicely positioned in week six.  Regardless of how the team is doing it will provide a well placed deep breath that almost cuts the regular season in half.  In week nine, the Cards will face another significant test in Minnesota against the Vikings, who will no doubt be looking to avenge the embarrassment they suffered in Glendale last season.

Mark week 12 on the calendar as the Cards’ first nationally televised game of the season.  The Cardinals play the 49ers for the first time, on Monday Night Football no less.  San Francisco swept the season series last year and the Cardinals are obviously not happy about it.  The 49ers have made some personnel improvements this year (including the recent pickup of Ted Ginn, Jr.)  and will enjoy two first round picks in the draft (the 13th and 17th picks).  Many believe this is the year the 49ers make a serious push to take the division crown and this game will likely be a must-win for them.  We all know how the last Cardinals vs. 49ers on MNF went; it wasn’t pretty for Arizona.

A Christmas day match-up with the Cowboys should be a charged atmosphere, which will be captured on national T.V. via NFL Network.  The finale, however, will probably be the most important game of the season.  It’s assumed the 49ers will be close this year because it’s hard to believe the Cards will run away with the division.  It seems, therefore, that the NFL knew exactly what it was doing when it scheduled this game.  Week 17 could be the match-up that decides it all.

In terms of road vs. home games, the season balances itself out in the end as the Cardinals play five of their last eight games at home.  This should be a nice comfort if the season comes down to the wire as expected.

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