NFL Network analyst Cynthia Frelund simulated the NFL season following Thursday’s schedule release 75,000 times to project each team’s record for 2022.
In those simulations, the Cardinals averaged 8.7 wins, a projected step backward from their 11-6 mark in 2021.
Seven teams in the NFC had higher average win totals, which puts the Cardinals just outside the playoff picture.
Frelund explained the dilemma the Cardinals face with not having wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for six weeks. Hopkins was hit with a suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
The Cardinals have gotten off to hot starts in each of the past two seasons and then fallen off down the stretch. In 2022, they face a very difficult slate early on without one of the league’s most dynamic players.
Arizona will host the Kansas City Chiefs, visit the Las Vegas Raiders and then face the Los Angeles Rams at home to open the year.
Missing DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season (suspension) creates some trouble for a team whose head coach has historically gotten off to fast starts. The Chiefs in Week 1, Raiders in Week 2, Rams in Week 3 and Eagles in Week 5 benefit the most from this. The Cardinals’ Week 7 matchup with New Orleans on Thursday Night Football also tips a bit more in the Saints’ favor, as their defense poses a difficult challenge for Arizona in Hopkins’ first game back — on a short week, no less.
The Cardinals trailed division foes the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers in average victories in Frelund’s simulations.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers topped the NFL at 11.7 wins, just ahead of the Buffalo Bills at 11.6 and the Rams at 11.5.
The Cardinals will play the Buccaneers on Christmas Day at State Farm Stadium this season.