TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals' 2023 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.
The first eight games will test just about everything about the Cardinals, especially since quarterback Kyler Murray likely might not be back to start. They’ll face six 2022 playoff teams in their first eight weeks, including four in a row starting Week 2 against the New York Giants followed by the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals. They’ll get a week’s reprieve with the Los Angeles Rams before seeing two more playoff teams in the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens.
The Cardinals didn’t receive a prime-time game in 2023, which includes not having a Thursday night game after the league changed the rules that once required teams to have at least one every season.
There will be two reunion games in the second half of the season with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (if he’s still on the team) heading back to Houston for the first time since he was traded in 2020 and head coach Jonathan Gannon going back to Philadelphia, where he helped lead the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII, in Week 17.
Arizona’s bye comes in Week 14 just before the Cardinals are scheduled to go to Chicago and Philadelphia in the dead of winter in their final three games.
Here's what's in store for the Cardinals:
Sept. 10: at Washington
Sept. 17: vs. New York Giants
Sept. 24: vs. Dallas
Oct. 1: at San Francisco
Oct. 8: vs. Cincinnati
Oct. 15: at Los Angeles Rams
Oct. 22: at Seattle
Oct. 29: vs. Baltimore
Nov. 5: at Cleveland
Nov. 12: vs. Atlanta
Nov. 19: at Houston
Nov. 26: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Dec. 3: at Pittsburgh
Dec. 10: Bye
Dec. 17: vs. San Francisco
Dec. 24: at Chicago
Dec. 31: at Philadelphia
Jan. 7: vs. Seattle
Strength of schedule: .520, 11th hardest
The start of the season is an absolute gauntlet for the Cardinals with a trip to the Washington Commanders to start the season followed by back-to-back home games against the Giants and Cowboys to cap the first three weeks. The good news for Arizona is that Gannon has an intimate knowledge of all three teams since he faced them each twice last season. But, despite his knowing those teams fairly well, Gannon will also find out what State Farm Stadium is like when the other team’s fans invade. Fans of the Giants and Cowboys travel well and will come by the thousands to Glendale. A tough start for sure, but even tougher if they don't have Murray. The gauntlet will continue after Week 3 with games against the 49ers, Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens coming up in four of the next five.
That’s easy: Week 17, New Year’s Eve, against the Eagles in Philadelphia. It’ll be Gannon’s return to Philadelphia and the vitriol will be spewed as only Eagles fans can regardless of how the Cardinals’ season is going. But, either way, it’ll be his chance to show the Eagles that he was worthy of becoming a head coach despite the 38-35 loss in Super Bowl LVII. He won’t say it, but that’s a game he’ll not only have circled on his calendar but don’t be surprised if some new wrinkles are unveiled at Lincoln Financial Field.
Regardless of how they start, the Cardinals will find a rhythm and some wins starting around Week 9 when they travel to Cleveland. That’ll start a string of winnable games: home against Atlanta is next followed by a trip to Houston and then home against the Rams. Murray will likely be back by then and that four-game stretch could be a reprieve from a brutal start to the season in the first eight games.