Arizona Cardinals schedule analysis

Breakdown: The Cardinals have come to count on opening the regular season against the 49ers. This season was different and Arizona will not complain after getting swept by San Francisco last season.

Opening at St. Louis gives Matt Leinart a chance to start against a weaker opponent. That was certainly better than opening against the Saints or on the road against the Vikings. The pressure will be on Leinart not to lose against a bad team, but opening the season against a weak opponent can also give him a chance to win early.

The Cardinals close the season with three games against NFC teams, with two on the road. Those games could be critical as teams fight for playoff positioning. Games against the Chiefs, Rams, Broncos, Panthers and 49ers are subject to flex scheduling.

Complaint department: The Cardinals open the season with three of their first four games on the road, including potentially tough matchups against the Falcons and Chargers. Life doesn't get much easier when Arizona returns home in Week 5. The Super Bowl champion Saints will be waiting. Arizona has proven to be a resilient team that responds well to challenges. The Cardinals might need to draw on some of that toughness.

Blackout watch: The Cardinals have worked hard to keep their sellout streak alive. The schedule sets up favorably to avoid blackouts early in the season. The home opener is against Oakland and the Raiders' fans tend to travel well. The Saints visit for the second home game. The third home game, albeit against Tampa Bay, falls in Week 8. A Christmas Day home game against Dallas should sell out well in advance.

Cardinals Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at St. Louis, 4:15 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, Oakland, 4:15 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, at San Diego, 4:15 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, New Orleans, 4:05 PM

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Seattle, 4:05 PM

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, Tampa Bay, 4:15 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, Seattle, 4:15 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM

Week 12: Monday, Nov. 29, San Francisco, 8:30 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, St. Louis, 4:15 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Denver, 4:15 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at Carolina, 1:00 PM

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 25, Dallas, 7:30 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at San Francisco, 4:15 PM