Who are the Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 NFL opponents as they look to build on a 2020 season that ended in disappointing fashion? Let’s look at who the Cardinals will play in 2021, and what that means in terms of their strength of schedule ranking compared to their rivals.
Who do the Cardinals play in 2021?
The Cardinals’ list of 2021 opponents will see them play the regular six games against the NFC West: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks. As is customary, the Cardinals will face each of those three teams both at home and on the road during the 2021 season.
In addition, the 2021 season will see the NFC West compete against the NFC North and AFC South for another eight games. Finally, the remaining two games on the traditional 16-game schedule will see the Cardinals face the two teams that finished in third place of the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys) and NFC South (Carolina Panthers).
What about the Cardinals’ 17th game in 2021?
The 2021 season is expected to introduce a 17th regular season game for all NFL teams. Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport reported on NFL.com that plans are in place to expand the regular season, although their report has yet to be officially confirmed by the NFL. Therefore, who would be the opponent for the Cardinals’ 17th game in the 2021 season?
Reports suggest that a decision has been made on how the 17th game opponent will be decided. The matchup will be an interconference matchup based on standings on a rotational basis.
Albert Breer reports that the divisional alignments for the 2021 season had already been set. According to Breer, the NFC West will face the AFC North for the 17th game. Therefore, the Cardinals’ opponent for their 17th game in 2021 would be the Cleveland Browns.
The Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 opponents
Here are the teams that the Arizona Cardinals will play against in the 2021 NFL season:
Home: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers
Road: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys
17th game (location TBD): Cleveland Browns
Arizona Cardinals’ strength of schedule for 2021
As we look ahead towards the 2021 NFL season, how does the Cardinals’ strength of schedule for 2021 shape up? The strength of schedule rankings are compiled from the 2020 records of the Cardinals’ 2021 opponents.
The Cardinals have a middle of the road schedule in 2021
The Cardinals’ 2021 strength of schedule ranks as the 13th-toughest in the league. They have the seventh-toughest schedule in the NFC and the second-toughest schedule in the NFC West.
The six games against their own division see the Cardinals facing three teams who won a total of 28 of their 48 games. The Cardinals’ schedule sees them playing a total of nine games against teams that made the playoffs last season. Four of those will be within their division against the Seahawks and Rams. Meanwhile, the other five come against the Packers, Bears, Colts, Titans, and Browns.
However, the remaining games see a far easier group of opponents. No other team on the Cardinals’ schedule won more than seven games. Therefore, the other eight games will be against teams that won an average of five games in 2020.
How does their schedule at home compare to their schedule on the road?
When it comes to the Cardinals’ 2021 opponents, the 49ers have a reasonably wide home and road split. Their home schedule at State Farm Stadium is tied for the 12th-toughest in the entire NFL. This is due to home matchups with the Packers and Colts as well as their division opponents in the Seahawks and Rams.
However, their road schedule ties for the eighth-easiest in the league. The Cardinals will travel to face a combination of the Lions, Jaguars, and Cowboys. Those three teams won a combined 12 games out of a total of 48 in 2020.
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