While NFL fans pore over the finer details of Thursday's 2022 schedule release, spare a thought for the Arizona Cardinals as they come to terms with an incredibly tough start to the season in which they will miss one of their biggest stars.
(This article was originally published on 14.05.2022)
The Cardinals, 10/13 to make the playoffs, will be without suspended wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season.
And Arizona's slate of games in that season-shaping opening stretch could hardly have been any tougher as Kliff Kingsbury's men open at home to the Kansas City Chiefs before hopping over the state line to Nevada for the Las Vegas Raiders' home opener under Josh McDaniels.
Their next assignment is to host the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, but if the start of their schedule looks scary then the closing few games are sure to determine the fate of the franchise in 2022.
Following their Week 10 return clash with the Rams, Arizona head to Mexico to face the San Francisco 49ers at altitude before coming back to host the Los Angeles Chargers on six days rest.
After a bye in Week 13, it's the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers that will await them before they close out the regular season with two road trips to face the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.
Arizona's NFC West rivals Seattle win the 'Most-Traveled Franchise of the Year' award with 29,446 air miles to cover - largely due to the Seahawks' Munich matchup against the Buccaneers in Week 10.