Strength of schedule: Arizona Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Isn’t life all about timing?

Well, so is the NFL.

Because of the NFL’s scheduling rotation, the Arizona Cardinals will face the eighth-hardest schedule, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Arizona’s overall strength of schedule is .547 in 2014 for a slate that includes the AFC West and NFC East.

It doesn’t help that the Cardinals play their fellow NFC West mates twice a year, meaning Arizona plays at both Super Bowl teams next season in Denver and Seattle, as well as the other NFC finalist, San Francisco. Surprisingly, the Cards’ road strength of schedule is .531, the ninth hardest in the league. The Cardinals also travel to the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, St. Louis Rams, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders.

But neither Arizona’s overall or road number stacks up to its home strength of schedule: .563 -- the third-hardest docket in the league. The Cardinals host five playoff teams: Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Kansas City and San Diego in addition to the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams -- all formidable opponents. The Cardinals have fared well inside the comfortable confines of University of Phoenix Stadium. They were 6-2 last year and have been either 4-4 or 6-2 every year since 2007.

It looks like Arizona turned a corner just in time. If this schedule had been handed to the Cards a few years ago, they would have struggled mightily. But with an improved offense and a talented defense, Arizona has a chance to make a statement in 2014 by getting through this schedule and into the playoffs.

Coach Bruce Arians always wants to bring on the best. Now he’s got one of the hardest schedules in the league.