The Arizona Cardinals got aggressive during the 2020 offseason -- a wise move for a team who drafted the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year and now looks to surround him with talent in order to capitalize on the early years of his rookie contract. Kyler Murray won't count this cheap against their salary cap forever (four more years or less if they extend him early), so the Cardinals decided to make offseason moves that would put him in the best position to succeed. This all started with the decision to trade for elite No. 1 wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Arizona also was able to retain Kenyan Drake after a season where the running back was one of the best in the league after a midseason trade to the team. Perhaps more important than adding the skill players was Arizona's decision to re-sign offensive tackle D.J. Humphries and draft offensive tackle Josh Jones -- both could be plus starting bookends for Murray right away in 2020.
The Cardinals also shored up their defense, stabilizing their linebacker group with the additions of Devon Kennard and De'Vondre Campbell while also aiding their pass rush with the signing of Jordan Phillips and Trevon Coley on the defensive line. The addition of Isaiah Simmons in the first round makes the defense even more explosive, a unit that already features arguably the NFL's best pass rusher in Chandler Jones. Even though the NFC West is loaded, the Cardinals should be competitive in the division for the first time in several years. Arizona is one of the rising teams in the NFL and can compete for a postseason berth if Murray takes even bigger strides after a Rookie of the Year season.
Below, we'll take a week-by-week look at the 2020 schedule and highlight all the prime-time games in a season where Arizona will be one of the exciting teams in the league (the Cardinals will have a non-Thursday night prime-time game for the first time since 2017). We'll also take a first look at the strength of schedule, the Cardinals' toughest stretch of games, and more.
Here's a breakdown of the Cardinals' 2020 schedule:
- Week 1: Sept. 13: at 49ers, 4:25 p.m., Fox
- Week 2: Sept. 20: vs. Redskins, 4:05 p.m., Fox
- Week 3: Sept. 27: vs. Lions, 4:25 p.m., Fox
- Week 4: Oct. 4: at Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 5: Oct. 11: at Jets, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 6: Oct. 19: at Cowboys (Monday Night Football), 8:15 p.m., ESPN
- Week 7: Oct. 25: vs. Seahawks, 4:05 p.m., Fox
- Week 8: Nov. 1: BYE WEEK
- Week 9: Nov. 8: vs. Dolphins, 4:25 p.m., CBS
- Week 10: Nov. 15: vs. Bills, 4:05 p.m., CBS
- Week 11: Nov. 19: at Seahawks (Thursday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., Fox/NFL Network/Amazon Prime
- Week 12: Nov. 29: at Patriots, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 13: Dec. 6: vs. Rams, 4:05 p.m., Fox
- Week 14: Dec. 13: at Giants, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 15: Dec. 20: vs. Eagles, 4:05 p.m., Fox
- Week 16: Dec. 26 or Dec. 27: vs. 49ers, TBD
- Week 17: Jan. 4: at Rams , 4:25 p.m., Fox
The Cardinals will host the Washington Redskins in Week 2, a change from last year when the franchise hosted in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions. Arizona's home opener in two of the last three years has been Washington.
The Cardinals have a "Monday Night Football" showdown against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, highlighting the two prime-time games in 2020. They also travel to Seattle for "Thursday Night Football." The Cardinals were supposed to have a home game in Mexico City, although that plan was nixed by the NFL because of COVID-19 concerns.
Arizona could play a Saturday prime-time game on Dec. 26 (the Cardinals will host San Francisco), which will be determined during the season. They could wind up playing three prime-time games.
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Weeks 10 to 13 won't be easy for the Cardinals, who have a pretty favorable schedule in the first half of the season. Arizona hosts Buffalo to start the stretch before having a short week and heading north to face Seattle on "Thursday Night Football." The Cardinals then have 10 days off before heading east to face the Patriots (which could be snowy in late November). Arizona closes the stretch hosting Los Angeles in Week 13.
The Cardinals have heightened expectations with their offseason moves, but this will be a good litmus test to see how much they improved.
Strength of schedule
Earlier this offseason, John Breech broke down the 2020 strength of schedule for all 32 NFL teams based on combined opponent winning percentage in 2019. After finishing in last place in the NFC West, the Cardinals will face the eighth-hardest strength of schedule in 2020. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule, check out Breech's breakdown here.
However, when basing strength of schedule on the over/under win totals for each team's opponents during the 2020 season at William Hill, the Cardinals go from facing the eighth-hardest schedule in the league to facing the 16th-toughest (middle of the pack). For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule using this methodology, check out Jared Dubin's full breakdown here.