It’s a tough time to be a member of the NFC West. Over the past decade, teams with records like 7-9 or 8-8 could actually win this division — I know, feels like a different lifetime — but now the NFC’s two best teams reside in the division in the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Throw in an improving St. Louis Rams squad, and the Arizona Cardinals encounter a brutal division slate heading into 2013.
While the upcoming schedule should prove difficult in many ways, the Cards also face enough winnable stretches to surpass the five to. 5.5 win total line Vegas is giving them. I’m totally willing to chalk up the four games against San Fran and Seattle as losses, but not only could St. Louis easily provide a split, the rest of the schedule has at least five decently probable wins in it.
It’s rough that Arizona will be missing Daryl Washington for the first four games due to suspension — when they visit St. Louis, host the Detroit Lions and visit the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — but the addition of Karlos Dansby at inside linebacker has me thinking a 1-3 or 2-2 start, which paces the team decently for at least a six-win campaign.
Then there’s the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans on the schedule, teams which I think Arizona could feasibly end up better than overall. Throw in that this has been a good home team in recent years, and I’m excited that Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and co. will play host in facing playoff squads in the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons.