The day after Arizona's 2016 season concluded, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians addressed the media and said he believes the organization won't need to complete a significant overhaul of the team's personnel this offseason.
For a defense that finished second in the NFL and an offense that finished ninth, finishing games in the fourth quarter was the Cardinals' greatest challenge, and ultimately the obstacle that kept the team out of the postseason.
By the time Arians spoke Monday, he knew exactly what his team would be up against entering next season, as the Cardinals now each of the opponents that the team will face in 2017.
Aside from the obvious --Arizona will face all three NFC West opponents twice-- the Cardinals learned they would take on all four teams from the AFC South, all four teams from the NFC East, one team from the NFC South, and one team from the NFC North.
Earlier this season, the Cardinals learned they will be traveling across the pond next year to take on the Los Angeles Rams in a division matchup in London in a game that will count as a Rams' home game and a Cardinals' away game. Though the date for that game has not been finalized, it is expected to take place in mid-to-late October.
In drawing teams from the NFC East and AFC South, the Cardinals are set to play against teams from one of the NFL's strongest divisions during the 2016 season --three NFC East teams finished above .500-- and one of the weaker divisions in the NFL as the AFC South was the only division that didn't produce at least one 10-win team.
Nevertheless, three teams in the AFC South including the Houston Texans, the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts finished the season with a .500 mark or better.
With two contests slated against Seattle and matchups with Houston, Dallas, Detroit and New York on the horizon, only six of Arizona's 16 games in 2017 will come against teams that made the playoffs this season. Of those contests, three of the games (Seattle, Dallas and New York) will take place at home while the other three games (Seattle, Houston and Detroit) will take place on the road.
Outside of the four combined games Arizona will play against division foes Los Angeles and San Francisco, of the remaining 12 games, only one will come against a team that won fewer than seven games. Because Philadelphia, Tennessee, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay each won at least seven games, only the Cardinals' contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars will feature an opponent outside of the division that lost at least 10 games.
What that means is that most of Arizona's 2017 competition was battling for a playoff spot until the final weeks of the regular season, and that for the Cardinals to secure a postseason berth next year, they will need to succeed against teams that finished with similar records during the 2016 season.
Home games: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, New York, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Tampa Bay
Away games: Los Angeles (London), San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington, Indianapolis, Houston, Detroit