It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
The 2021 season was an uneven one for the Cardinals, who faltered after a hot start and were crushed in their wild-card playoff clash with the Rams.
The good: Arizona began 8-0, riding the wave of Kyler Murray performances and a dynamic run game that featured do-it-all-back Chase Edmonds and bruiser James Conner.
The bad: The Cardinals collapsed when the injuries came knocking. Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt and Maxx Williams all spent time on the sideline, cracking the continuity that Kliff Kingsbury’s side built over the opening two months.
All of that culminated in a 3-6 record in Arizona’s last nine games and a non-competitive playoff appearance.
Murray’s back, for now — the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year had his fifth-year option picked up and is scheduled to make $29.7 million in 2023.
Hopkins is not back, at least not yet — the three-time All-Pro receiver was suspended for six games by the NFL for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
So, what are Arizona’s prospects in 2022? It’s difficult to say. The team still has a lot of talent, but that talent has failed to push the team into the upper stratosphere.
For now, here is a complete breakdown of the Cardinals’ 2022 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.
Arizona Cardinals schedule 2022
The Cardinals’ schedule will be unveiled as part of the NFL’s schedule release on Thursday, May 12.
- Home: Chiefs, Chargers, Buccaneers, Saints, Eagles, Patriots, Seahawks, 49ers, Rams
- Away: Falcons, Panthers, Raiders, Broncos, Vikings, Seahawks, 49ers, Rams
|11||Monday, Nov. 21||vs. 49ers (in Mexico City)||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
Seven of the teams the Cardinals will face in 2022 reached the playoffs in 2021, with four of those teams advancing beyond the first round: the Buccaneers, Chiefs, Rams and 49ers.
They’ll face the Bucs, Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and 49ers at home and the Raiders, Rams and 49ers on the road.
Cardinals strength of schedule
The Cardinals’ 2022 opponents went a combined 157-132 in 2021, a .543 winning percentage that is the second-strongest in the NFL.
Toughest tests: The Cardinals could be looking at a brutal slate of home games. Arizona is due to take on the Chiefs, Chargers, Buccaneers and Rams in Glendale; all of those teams are coming into the 2022 season with Super Bowl aspirations.
Few teams are as complete as the Rams. The reigning Super Bowl champions are filled to the brim with star power. They proved as much in their 34-11 beatdown of Arizona in their NFC wild-card game last January — Cooper Kupp scored a touchdown, Odell Beckham Jr. added another and the Rams’ front seven harassed Murray to the tune of two interceptions and a 40.9 passer rating.
Biggest breaks: While Arizona’s schedule is fairly stout, the team also has a handful of appealing matchups. The Seahawks, Panthers and Falcons all seem destined for a lackluster 2022. Cardinals fans will be hoping those games will help Kliff Kingsbury’s squad build confidence for its more imposing opposition.
Bottom line: Arizona was solid for much of last season. Injuries broke apart the continuity that helped to build the 8-0 start, and the team into struggled in the second half.
Which version of the Cardinals will shine through in 2022? The confident side that strutted through its past first eight games last year? Those Cardinals routed the Rams in Week 4 and looked capable of embarking on a deep postseason run. Or will it be the injury-plagued side that lost four of its last five — a stretch that included losses to the Lions (3-13-1) and Seahawks (7-10).
Arizona has the strength of schedule to prove its worth. It will face off against some of the best teams in the league this year. If the Cardinals play to their full potential, they could establish themselves as a force in the playoffs.
But it’s hard to look past the Rams in the division. A wild-card berth seems more realistic at this time, especially after accounting for DeAndre Hopkins’ suspension.
Record prediction: 10-7