The highlights of the Cardinals’ regular-season schedule in 2012 come through the NFC West.
The Cardinals have two nationally televised games, both against division rivals – an ESPN “Monday Night Football” home date Oct. 29 against the San Francisco 49ers, and an NFL Network Thursday night game in St. Louis Oct. 4. And just to round out the trip around the division, the Cards will open the regular season at home Sept. 9 against the Seattle Seahawks.
“You like to play on the national stage like that,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
Mostly, though, it’s difficult to know exactly how the schedule will play out or what it will mean.
The schedule is home heavy early, with three of the first four games at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cards must make a trip to New England Sept. 16, but follow up with Arizona games against Philadelphia and Miami.
After the Cardinals finished winning seven of nine, Whisenhunt said he hoped the schedule will play to his squad’s benefit.
“We have talked a lot about carrying momentum from last season into next season,” Whisenhunt said. “You’d like to think that playing at home will give us a better chance to do that.”
The bye comes in Week 10 (Nov. 11), in the middle of a stretch of four road trips in five games. The bye comes later than usual, although the Cards will have been working for some 16 weeks from the beginning of training camp to get there.
“Maybe the bye coming a little bit later could help us as far as getting our legs underneath us, but that’s something we’re going to experience for the first time so I’m not sure what to think about it,” Whisenhunt said.
“We have the extra week and extra game in training camp. I don’t know when the best time is. You really don’t know. Your knee-jerk reaction is halfway through the season and that will be pretty close to it.”
The Thursday night game in St. Louis follows the Miami game. The Cardinals will also finish the season on the road, playing in San Francisco Dec. 30.
The Cards will host Buffalo Oct. 14, play in Minnesota Oct. 21 and then have the Monday night game against the Niners before heading to Green Bay Nov. 4 to complete the pre-bye slate.
The first game after the bye is Nov. 18 in Atlanta. A Nov. 25 home game against the Rams then leads into back-to-back road games on opposite coasts: Dec. 2 in New York against the Jets and Dec. 9 at Seattle.
Back-to-back home games against NFC North opponents Detroit (Dec. 16) and Chicago (Dec. 23) round out the pre-finale schedule.
The Cardinals’ preseason schedule was set Tuesday. The Cards will travel to Canton, Ohio, Aug. 5 for the Hall of Fame game against the Saints, play in Kansas City Aug. 10, host Oakland Aug. 17, go to Tennessee Aug. 23 and close up with a home finale against Denver Aug. 30.