WR Anquan Boldin (Chris McGrath/Getty)
The Cardinals learned their 2008 schedule today, a lineup that includes two prime-time games and matchups against both of last season's Super Bowl participants. Ken Whisenhunt will try to maneuver his team those the challenging field and into the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Team expert Amberly Richardson breaks down schedule on a game-by-game basis.
The most daunting games on the schedule are meetings with defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in Week 12 and the AFC Champion New England Patriots in Week 16. The Cardinals will host New York and travel to New England.
The Cardinals will have the 12th-easiest schedule in the NFL, with their opponents tacking on 119 wins and 137 losses in 2007.
Sunday, Sept. 7- at San Francisco 49ers, 4:15 p.m. - This marks the second consecutive year the Cardinals square off against the 49ers in San Francisco to kick off the season. The Cardinals hope they’ll do better than last year when they were defeated, 20-17. Edgerrin James was the top rusher with 92 yards. The secondary will use what it knows about former Cardinals wide receiver Bryant Johnson to keep his numbers low.
Sunday, Sept. 14- Miami Dolphins, 4:15 p.m. – Arizona hosts the Dolphins for its home opener. The Dolphins won just one game last year, but are doing major work to the roster and own the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Pro Bowler Darnell Dockett could find himself going helmet-to-helmet with Michigan standout Jake Long.
Sunday, Sept. 21- at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.- This is the first game of a two-game road trip. The Redskins came out on top the last time the crews met, 21-19, despite James being the game's leading rusher (83 yards) and Larry Fitzgerald pacing the game's receivers(97 yards).
Sunday, Sept. 28- at New York Jets, 1 p.m. – The Cardinals will go against former teammate Calvin Pace, who signed with the Jets in early April. The Jets struggled last season but still fielded the league's ninth-best pass defense, holding opponents under 200 yards per game.
Sunday, Oct. 5- Buffalo Bills, 4:15 p.m. -The Bills defense is in a rebuilding phase and the Cardinals should be ready to test it to the limits. Buffalo finished second in its division and has something to prove. The Bills were 31st in pass defense last year, allowing 362.9 yards a game. The run defense wasn't much better, allowing 124.6 yards per game.
Sunday, Oct. 12- Dallas Cowboys, 4:15 p.m. -The Cowboys matchup has the possibility of being Fox’s main afternoon game. The contest will come down to battle of the young quarterbacks and a fight between the star receivers. Adrian Wilson will have to take the air out of Terrell Owens' popcorn game. Fitzgerald earned some looks from quarterback Tony Romo in the Pro Bowl and will look to repeat that performance with Matt Leinart pulling the trigger.
Sunday, Oct. 19- Bye
Sunday, Oct. 26- at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. -Terrence Holt will have a lot to prove when he goes toe-to-toe with his former team. The Cardinals are apt to bring a level attack, because the Panthers were fairly even in last year’s play. They finished second in their division and were 17th in the league in pass defense (214.1) and 18th against the run (110.7).
Sunday, Nov. 2- at St. Louis Rams, 1 p.m.- The Cardinals’ NFC West foe finished fourth in the division last season. Arizona swept the season series and will look to do the same in 2008.
Monday, Nov. 10- San Francisco 49ers, 8:30 p.m.- Arizona puts its game face on for the cameras when it gets the spotlight on ESPN’s Monday Night football against its division nemesis.
Sunday, Nov. 16- at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.- This game is a long-awaited battle for many. The teams split their games last season and Seattle clinched first place in the division with two more wins than the Cardinals.
Sunday, Nov. 23- New York Giants, 4:15 p.m. -The Cardinals face the reigning Super Bowl champs for their shot at glory. Arizona’s O-line will need to leave nothing on the field against the Giants, who kept opponents to less than 210 yards passing and 100 yards rushing on average last season.
Thursday, Nov. 27- at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 p.m. -Ken Whisenhunt and crew will have to get their Thanksgiving dinner to go as they face off with the Eagles in Philadelphia. The holiday meeting is the Cardinals first game on Turkey Day since they played against Dallas in 1985 as the St. Louis Cardinals. The engagement also marks Arizona's first year with multiple prime-time games since 2000.
Sunday, Dec. 7- St. Louis Rams, 4:15 p.m. -The NFC West will be narrowing down playoff contenders when the teams face for the second time in 2008.
Sunday, Dec. 14- Minnesota Vikings, 4:05 p.m. -Arizona hopes the meeting between Adrian Peterson -- who they passed on in the 2007 NFL Draft -- won’t be too painful. The Cardinals kept opponents to 97.9 yards on the run last season. The Vikings finished with the same 8-8 record as Arizona.
Sunday, Dec. 21- at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. -The Cardinals will be out of their element with freezing temperatures in New England. More than that, they will face a stingy pass defense (190.1 yards) and the machine-gun arm of Tom Brady, whose offense paced the league in yards per game last season (295.7).
Sunday, Dec. 28- Seattle Seahawks, 4:15 p.m. -Arizona caps the season with a game that might decide the NFC West Champion. Seattle has won four consecutive division titles and the Cardinals would love to snap that streak in Mike Holmgren's final season before retirement.
Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications. Her analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.