Arizona Cardinals stay near the top of Week 15 Power Rankings
By Erich Becker
The Arizona Cardinals remain in the driver’s seat in the NFC West and near the top of all Power Rankings
As the season winds down over the next few weeks we’ll start to really learn who this Cardinals team is. Over the course of the last 14 weeks have seen the same team play different ways. From absolutely destroying lesser teams and becoming the top scoring team in the league with a punishing defense that not only scored points, but got the ball back for the offense to do the same.
However over the latter half of the season there has been another team, a grind-it-out, smash mouth team that lost its way on the ground and then regained it when starter Chris Johnson was injured. A team that has the offensive weapons to light up the scoreboard in every game but sometimes finds themselves in closer games than they should be in with lesser opponents.
The Cardinals traveled back home to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday and won on a strip sack in the last few seconds of the game from Dwight Freeney, a guy who was playing golf nearly a month ago. Since a loss to Pittsburgh the team has not lost again, now at 11-2 with three games to go the schedule offers up many chances to make a last season push and statement as to who this team really is going into the pivotal playoffs.
In most Power Rankings this week the Cardinals remain in the top two or three with some movement as other teams, more convincingly, supposedly, showed up. Also, the team played on Thursday, a far cry from the games over the last two days so that distance from their win may have clouded a few journalists ideas as to who should be ranked where.
Started out this week with Frank Schwab at Yahoo!, he has the Cardinals falling a spot to number three (with New England regaining the second spot).
"The Dwight Freeney signing was smart. He has four sacks in eight games, including a game-clinching one against Minnesota. For less than $1 million? You wonder why other teams that can’t generate any pass rush (hello, Giants and Falcons) didn’t do it."
Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk has the Cardinals remaining at number two:
"The new America’s Team is 4-0 in prime time, with another date on Sunday Night Football looming."
In NFL.com’s Power Poll by Elliot Harrison, the Cardinals remain in the second spot as well:
"Arizona has staked its claim as the second best team and isn’t letting go anytime soon. Most impressive is the cadre of offensive contributors, from David Johnson to J.J. Nelson to Michael Floyd. How about the downfield blocking display that both Floyd and fellow receiver Larry Fitzgerald put on week in and week out? Check out Floyd’s catch-and-run touchdown in the second half of Thursday’s win over the Vikings — Fitz literally flattens the defender in front of him. That kind of effort from a 12th-year wideout … almost as impressive as a 14th-year pass rusher’s spin move. #Freeney"
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
FOXSports.com’s Power Rankings has the Cardinals firmly planted at number two, with kind words for the defense:
"After watching Carson Palmer deliver several fourth-quarter comebacks, it was Arizona’s defense that rose to the occasion in a pivotal Week 14 win over the Vikings."
Finally, Pete Prisco at CBSSports.com has the Cardinals continuing to take over the second spot in the ranking:
"They continue to roll on, even if that was a tough game against the Vikings. Those are the games that will get them ready for the postseason."
As you can see, the Cardinals are in the near top spot in many rankings, with only Carolina’s ranking, perhaps, keeping them from dropping any lower and another team, maybe not even the Cardinals, taking over that top spot. Oh well, three weeks to go, still time to hit that all important first spot. Before you ask, check out our own Power Rankings to see where the Cardinals figure in with the rest of the 32 teams.