Well, it's finally happened. My brain has read too many mock drafts and I'm now making mock NFL schedules.
That's right, what follows is maybe the first of its kind mock NFL schedule for the 2021 Arizona Cardinals. 17 games, 18 weeks, 1 bye week and way too much time by me to come up with a fake, ideal regular season schedule.
Why not just wait until Wednesday night like everyone else to see the real schedule? Because this was actually a lot of fun. Below, I've outlined the best schedule that follows some basic NFL scheduling rules. The Cardinals will play 8 home games and 9 away games, finish with two NFC West opponents as they have the last three seasons and follow the actual opponents list that we've known since the season ended.
2021 Mock Arizona Cardinals Schedule
Week 1 - vs CAR
- I believe in the college football scheduling model: Game 1 - solid mid major, Game 2 - BIG DOG, Game 3 - NAU. Carolina feels like the Golidlocks season opener; not too hot, not too cold, juuuussst right.
Week 2 -@ CLE - MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- If the Browns have a rough Week 1, this game could have massive pressure. The Cardinals get their first road test in a prime time game between two headline worthy QB's. Sign me up. Also, the Cardinals feel like the perfect Monday Night Football team, like how some wrestlers are just better off competing for the Intercontinental title instead of the World Championship belt.
Week 3 - @ JAX
- Getting to Jacksonville before Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer figure it out would be ideal. This team has a lot of moving pieces and a lot of structural change, getting them early could prove to be fortuitous compared to later in the season.
Week 4 - vs SF
- Let's get the NFC West party started with a team that could very possibly be embroiled in a QB controversy by this point. Even though team owner Jed York recently stated they wouldn't mind Trey Lance sitting for two years, imagine if San Francisco struggles offensively the first few weeks of the season, it could tee up the rookie for the Cardinals ferocious pass rush.
Week 5 - @ TEN
- Tennessee is a weird team this year. While they had lots of success the last two years, it's not a team anyone seems to be taking seriously. With 9 road games this season, the Cardinals start out traveling three of the first five weeks.
Week 6 - vs. GB
- By this point, either Aaron Rodgers and the Packers franchise have had hot, passionate makeup football or they will already be in autopilot mode with each side not on speaking terms with the other. Count me in as betting on the latter.
Week 7 - vs. LAR - THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- After a tough home game against Green Bay, the Cardinals have a short week to prepare for their second prime time game of the young season. Might as well play on short rest against the Rams to have a built in excuse for when Sean McVay humbles Kliff Kingsbury...again.
Week 8 - @ CHI
- Getting in and out of Chicago before the weather turns real nasty will be a big win if the Cardinals can pull it off. While the Bears have made the playoffs twice in the last three years and traded up for Justin Fields, the weather might be the biggest opponent the Cardinals could face in Soldier Field.
Week 9 - @ DAL - SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- These two teams produced a Monday Night snooze-fest last year but this time around are destined for Sunday Night. Kyler back in Texas, Dak back under center and let the fireworks begin.
Week 10 - ***BYE WEEK***
Week 11 - @ SEA
- The Cardinals get an extra week to prepare for an always compelling clash with the Seahawks in Seattle. If Russell Wilson is still on speaking terms with his offensive line, it would be a worthy way for the Cardinals to prove themselves to start the second half.
Week 12 - vs HOU
- Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor provide a bit of a confidence boost for a Cardinals playing five road games over a seven week stretch. While not as easy of a layup as the bye week for the Cardinals, it's not much tougher either.
Week 13 - @ LAR
- Sean McVay is feeling hungry so here's another chance for him to eat Kliff Kingsbury's lunch...again.
Week 14 - @ DET
- This is what's known as a get right game. While I would've loved to have just dropped the Lions from the schedule all together, the two teams that no one cares to see play each other will play each other for an eighth time in the last nine years. Please let this be the last time for awhile.
Week 15 - vs. MIN - MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- Another Monday nighter for the Cardinals should mean a win, considering it's against Kirk Cousins. The Cardinals reap the rewards of playing a tough road schedule up until this point to finish the season with three home games in their final four.
Week 16 - vs. IND
- By this point of the season, there's almost a 100% chance that Carson Wentz will either be injured or most of his teammates will hate him. Its a perfect time for the Cardinals to get a much needed home win before the stretch run OR a perfect time for me to make friends with Matt Eberflus and Ed Dodds before they take over for Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury.
Week 17 - @ SF
- As mentioned earlier, the Cardinals finished with two NFC West opponents in the final two weeks in each of the last three seasons but have never played both games at home. If precedent holds, playing the NFC West team with the least intimidating road environment in the penultimate game of the year feels like a win for Arizona.
Week 18 - vs. SEA
- By this stage of the season, Seattle could very well be a smoldering dumpster fire of a team with Russell Wilson having decided to demand a trade and the rest of the time no longer concealing their antipathy for their phony leader.