Another 8-8 season, and the lament of Cardinals fans will be heard clearly in the upper Colorado area.
With the unveiling of the NFL schedule for the fall season, Arizona’s task appears much more manageable and balanced than it ended up being in 2011.
Early home games include the Seattle Seahawks (the opener on Sept. 9), the Miami Dolphins (Sept. 30) and the Buffalo Bills (Oct. 14) and a road game against the St. Louis Rams (Oct. 4) during the first half of the season, Arizona should stay in the hunt for a playoff berth entering week nine.
In fact, the Cardinals’ toughest stretch appears to be in the middle of the season when they play at the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 21, followed by a Monday night game at home vs. the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 29 and a road game at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 4.
After a bye in week 10, it’s back on the road vs. the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 18.
That four-game stretch could determine whether Kolb and Co. will be around to make the NFC playoff chase interesting in December.
If the game against Minnesota, 3-13 in 2011, seems out of place as part of the critical part of Arizona’s schedule, remember that the Vikings drilled the Cards 34-10 last year at the Metrodome on Oct. 9.
Arizona’s overall road schedule appears more daunting with away games at the New England Patriots (Sept. 16), at Minnesota, at Green Bay, at Atlanta, at the New York Jets (Dec. 2) and at San Francisco on Dec. 30 to end the regular season.
All those games, with the exception of the regular-season finale against the 49ers, will start at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Cardinals get the Philadelphia Eagles (Sept. 23), the 49ers, the Detroit Lions (Dec. 16) and the Chicago Bears (Dec. 23) at home. The schedule gives the Cardinals a chance to take care of business at University of Phoenix Stadium and get in position to make a postseason run.
The Eagles game should be of particular interest to Kolb, who was Philadelphia’s starter to begin the 2010 season.
Kolb can make Arizona fans forget all about the organization’s pursuit of Peyton Manning if he can steer the Cardinals into the playoffs.
Anything short of that and Kolb might as well start looking at the next destination to resurrect his NFL career and the franchise can start playing the second-guessing game with its fans.