The Cardinals will face the 49ers at home Nov. 10 on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" and will play in Philadelphia Thanksgiving night on NFL Network.
Apparently the NFL and the national networks believe the Cardinals have reason for optimism too.
An appearance on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" – at home against San Francisco Nov. 10 – and a Thanksgiving night game -- in Philadelphia Nov. 27 -- on the NFL Network highlight the Cards' 2008 schedule, released Tuesday.
"I am excited we have a chance to play in front of a national audience a number of times," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It is a sign of respect for hopefully the progress we have made; I know it's a sign of respect for the number of quality players we have.
"Anytime you have a chance, whether it is on a Monday night or Thanksgiving night or even an afternoon game that is a national game, that is a good thing for your football team because it gives your players a chance to showcase their skills."
The Cardinals' home game against Dallas Oct. 12 could be Fox's main Sunday afternoon game for that date.
The Cardinals open the season Sept. 7 in San Francisco, the second straight season the team has visited the 49ers to start the year.
The home opener is against Miami Sept. 14.
The team was already considering leaving two days early for their five East coast trips. With back-to-back games in Washington against the Redskins Sept. 21 and in New York against the Jets Sept. 28, Whisenhunt did say the team might remain back east for the entire week rather than come all the way back to Arizona.
"It is something I have done as a player, and some of our coaches have done it within the last couple of years, so it is something we are definitely considering," Whisenhunt said. "There are a lot of dynamics that go into that that will ultimately determine that."
Including in that list is finding a place for the team and its traveling party to stay, finding practice facilities, and organizing logistics of the video department, the equipment staff and the trainers.
The other long trips include a potential snow game in New England Dec. 21 and a game in Carolina Oct. 26. The Panthers' game follows the Cards' bye Oct. 19.
"We will be tested on (the road) early," Whisenhunt said.
The Thanksgiving date against the Eagles is the Cards' first game on that holiday since the then-St. Louis Cardinals played in Dallas in 1985. This season will be the first since 2000 when the Cards appeared more than once in a prime-time TV game.
The Patriots' game is the lone road trip for the Cards in the final four games of the season, when the Rams, Vikings and Seahawks come to Glendale. The Seahawks' game closes the regular season Dec. 28.
"Three of our last four and four of our last six are at home," Whisenhunt said. "University of Phoenix Stadium became such a home-field advantage for us last year, if we are in a position where we hope to be – making a push for the playoffs or the division – that is exciting."
The Super Bowl champion New York Giants return to University of Phoenix Stadium Nov. 23, four days before Thanksgiving, and Whisenhunt said he already has a schedule prepared for his team for the short week.
Whisenhunt had a similar short week as an assistant in Pittsburgh in 2006, when the Steelers played Tampa Bay on Sunday and then Cleveland on Thursday. The Steelers won both games, although both games were in Pittsburgh.
The Buffalo Bills are the Cards' opponent Oct. 5 following the games in New York and Washington. The Cards visit NFC West rivals St. Louis and Seattle Nov. 2 and Nov. 16, respectively.
The preseason schedule is all but set as well. The opener, at home against New Orleans on Aug. 7, was already set for a 5 p.m. kickoff on ESPN. The Cardinals will play in Kansas City Aug. 16 and close against Denver at home Aug. 29. The road trip to Oakland for the third game of the preseason has not been finalized, although it is likely to be played either Aug. 22 or 23.