PFT preseason power rankings No. 22: Arizona Cardinals

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The Arizona Cardinals continue to carry a roster stocked with talent at several key positions. Larry Fitzgerald continues to get the job done at a high level at 33 years old. David Johnson has become one of the league’s best running backs. The secondary is stocked with talented pieces and Carson Palmer is capable of playing at a Top 10 level for stretches at a time.

But inconsistency and an inability to get over the hump have plagued the Cardinals in recent years. With time running out for some of Arizona’s aging core, 2017 may represent the last best chance this group has of doing something significant. The Cardinals have to find adequate replacements for some key departures on the defensive side of the ball and hope that Palmer can have another one of his peak seasons.

However, the Seahawks remain the kings of the division until someone can knock them off the top of the mountain. The Cardinals may be the only team in the NFC West to challenge their standing this season. They may need many things to all go right to pull it off.

Biggest positive change: Going from Chandler Catanzaro to Phil Dawson at kicker seems like a minor move on its surface, but Catanzaro’s struggles last season were a constant issue. High profile missed kicks against the New England Patriots in Week 1 and the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7 likely cost Arizona two victories. Flip those results and the Cardinals would have been 5-2 through seven weeks instead of 3-3-1. While a 42-year old Dawson isn’t quite as reliable as during the peak of his career, he’s still more consistent than Catanzaro and should give Bruce Arians more confidence in his kicking game.

Biggest negative change: Losing two key defensive starters in Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson leaves Arizona with a massive production hole to fill. While Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker could provide enough to make up for the loss of Jefferson, Campbell’s departure could prove more difficult to withstand. Robert Nkemdiche will have to become a more reliable option in year two and show himself worthy of the first-round selection in 2016.

Coaching thermometer: Not hot, but not cold either. Bruce Arians is 64 years old and has dealt with multiple health issues in recent years. The Cardinals are aging in key places as well as Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald continue to prolong the twilight of their careers. It took Arians until he was 60 years old to get a head coaching job and he doesn’t seem intent on giving this one up anytime soon. However, when the Palmer era at quarterback comes to end – potentially without the Cardinals finding a way to return to the Super Bowl – the time may come to push the reset button altogether in the desert.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . Tyrann Mathieu. A problem child while at LSU, Mathieu has developed into the consummate professional with the Cardinals. While it may have helped to be on a roster with a mentor in the secondary such as Patrick Peterson, Mathieu hasn’t let his issues from college follow him to the pros. He’s become a dynamic play-maker and a Pro Bowl caliber performer when he can stay healthy and in the lineup. Sitting down with Mathieu and reflecting on his journey would make for an enjoyable evening.

How they can prove us wrong: Carson Palmer manages to stay healthy and plays to peak form. David Johnson joins Le’Veon Bell as the best all-around running backs in the game. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden maintain their status as top quarterback sack tandem in the league. Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Antoine Bethea, Budda Baker and Deone Buchanon combine to give Arizona one of the more dynamic secondaries around.

46 responses to “PFT preseason power rankings No. 22: Arizona Cardinals

  1. Would love to see LFitz get a ring but Palmer comes up small in big games so I don’t see it happening.

  2. This is a good example of the weakness of power rankings. As noted, the Cardinals have a talented core that should render it a competitive team (especially with a couple of very weak division opponents), and yet it only checks in at #22. The reason is obvious: most PRs are lazy and focus too much on last season. The Cardinals steadily built their roster up with 10, 11, and 13 win seasons leading to last season, but then a collection of things going wrong threw the season off. I’d say it’s just as likely that they rebound most of the way (say, to 10 or 11 wins) as it is they remain at the 7 or 8 win level, which means they should be ranked as slightly above average. They aren’t, though, and the explanation as to why is pretty obvious. For shame.

  3. Cant believe the Cardinals have not tried to start replacing Palmer. He will be 38 before the end of the year. And its not like he has had a tom brady like career (or even big ben, rodgers, brees)

    They need to work on replacing him sooner than later.

  4. 8-8 is a best case scenario. This ranking is about right. They had the most regular season wins in the NFL for 2 years running until the Seahawks shattered them at home 36-6 in late 2015. They’re 8-10-1 since, a trend that will no doubt continue. Too many holes to fill all over the roster and a bum QB. The Seahawks will have this division wrapped up by Thanksgiving

  5. The Patriots outplayed them at every turn until a late Blount fumble allowed the Cardinals to get an easy touchdown. The kicker missed a long field goal, but they never stopped Garoppolo even though it was his first start ever and on the road on a Sunday night. Don’t blame the kicker for that loss. The Cardinals were not a good team and got beaten by the Patriots who were without Brady, Gronkowski, Dion Lewis, and others. A good team would have beaten the Patriots on that night. They were ripe. The Cardinals were not a good team no matter who was kicking. Stop David Johnson and you can beat them.

  6. Remember when people thought Arians was a good coach? Yeah, he’s not, and despite a few outstanding players, neither is the team. If they hold it together, they could finish a distant second (no playoffs) in the West.

  7. This team admitted they couldn’t recover from a week 1 loss against a backup QB. They have the fortitude of jello. Second-tier football squad, like they’ve always been.

  8. 22 seems about right. The core players on offense are just too old to hold up for an entire season. They’ll win 5 or 6 games and miss out on Darnold. Then they’ll be where the Niners and Browns are.

  9. mcniner55 says:
    Jul 15, 2017 10:06 AM
    Cant believe the Cardinals have not tried to start replacing Palmer. He will be 38 before the end of the year. And its not like he has had a tom brady like career (or even big ben, rodgers, brees)

    They need to work on replacing him sooner than later.
    ————————————————-
    This is a solid take. Palmer is on par with having an Andy Dalton like career. 1 career playoff win. Ouch

  10. Tyrann Mathieu became successful because he went to rehab for marijuana and never used it again. You know, the drug everyone claims you can’t get addicted to.

  11. I expect big things from Nkemdiche this year. It takes a full year to recover from getting stoned and falling out a window, you know.

  12. Tyrann Mathieu became successful because he went to rehab for marijuana and never used it again. You know, the drug everyone claims you can’t get addicted to.

    What does this have to do with the Cardinals being the Buffalo Bills of the NFC?

  13. So refreshing to FINALLY read something about the Cardinals, and not about ANOTHER Bruce Arians comment

  14. Bruce Arians is the Joe Maddon of the NFL. His problem is that he isn’t as good as he thinks he is. They still could win 7-8 games solely because they are in the worst division in the league. How else could the one year “dynasty” be a lock for 10-12 wins a year.

  15. This ranking is nonsense. One of the best pass rushing defenses in the NFL. A top tier offense. Sure the WR corps is not as good as two years ago and the Defensive Line is not a lot of big names on it. But the offensive line looks a lot better with draft upgrades. They have arguably the top overall RB in the NFL. It all comes down to two things. One, can Carson Palmer regain his 2014 and 2015 form (even late 2016)? And can Phil Dawson convert the kicks that would’ve made this Cardinals team a playoff team in 2016? I see them around 11-5. Maybe the top team in the NFC

  16. mbara33 says:
    Jul 15, 2017 10:53 AM
    8-8 is a best case scenario. This ranking is about right. They had the most regular season wins in the NFL for 2 years running until the Seahawks shattered them at home 36-6 in late 2015.
    ————————

    Nothing like the truth from a particularly 12-ish point of view, obfuscating with semantics. Arizona did not have more combined regular season wins in ’14 & ’15 than any other team. They were one of three teams, along with Super Bowl winners Denver and New England (remember who they beat?), with 24 wins over those 2 seasons. The Cards were so shattered by that 2015 week 17 loss they only made it to the NFC championship, losing to the same 15 win Panthers that eliminated the Seahawks. Since you like combining regular season records for illustrative purposes try this one, Arizona’s and Seattle’s are identical over the last 2 years.

    Arizona’s coach seemed to think it was losing to New England that derailed them last year. As a 12 you should be able to empathize. Your team hasn’t got past 10 wins or the divisional round since New England derailed their one year dynasty in the Super Bowl.

  17. tyelee says:
    Jul 15, 2017 12:05 PM
    I can think of a couple teams worse than the Cardinals..

    Buccaneers
    Lions
    Bengals
    Dolphins

    11 10

    The Lions will win more games than Arizona with less talent. The Lions have Matthew Stafford, smoke, and mirrors.

  18. redsoxu571 says:
    Jul 15, 2017 9:55 AM
    This is a good example of the weakness of power rankings. As noted, the Cardinals have a talented core that should render it a competitive team (especially with a couple of very weak division opponents), and yet it only checks in at #22. The reason is obvious: most PRs are lazy and focus too much on last season. The Cardinals steadily built their roster up with 10, 11, and 13 win seasons leading to last season, but then a collection of things going wrong threw the season off. I’d say it’s just as likely that they rebound most of the way (say, to 10 or 11 wins) as it is they remain at the 7 or 8 win level, which means they should be ranked as slightly above average. They aren’t, though, and the explanation as to why is pretty obvious. For shame.
    —————————————————–
    Unless they lose their first game. Then the season is down the tubes.

  19. One of the best pass rushing defenses and very good defense. The best young RB in the NFL, an offense that can score points and they win at home. Playoff team!

  20. 22nd? Exactly what the Cards need to see for motivation. Last year they were practically handed the NFC title by idiotic preseason prognosticators, and it clearly went to their heads. This year they will have a chip on their shoulders after failing miserably last season. Over/under in Vegas for wins is only 7.5. Easy money – take the over. They may not go deep into the playoffs, but NFW they finish under .500 again.

  21. commentawaitingdeletion says:
    Jul 15, 2017 2:00 PM
    mbara33 says:
    Jul 15, 2017 10:53 AM
    8-8 is a best case scenario. This ranking is about right. They had the most regular season wins in the NFL for 2 years running until the Seahawks shattered them at home 36-6 in late 2015.
    ————————

    Nothing like the truth from a particularly 12-ish point of view, obfuscating with semantics. Arizona did not have more combined regular season wins in ’14 & ’15 than any other team. They were one of three teams, along with Super Bowl winners Denver and New England (remember who they beat?), with 24 wins over those 2 seasons. The Cards were so shattered by that 2015 week 17 loss they only made it to the NFC championship, losing to the same 15 win Panthers that eliminated the Seahawks. Since you like combining regular season records for illustrative purposes try this one, Arizona’s and Seattle’s are identical over the last 2 years.

    Arizona’s coach seemed to think it was losing to New England that derailed them last year. As a 12 you should be able to empathize. Your team hasn’t got past 10 wins or the divisional round since New England derailed their one year dynasty in the Super Bowl.

    ******************************

    Seattle beat New England last October, in New England, against Tom Brady, resoundingly. Seattle has won playoff games 5 years running.

    The Cardinals have been about as successful as the Rams and Niners since realignment. Seattle has pretty much owned the division since then.

    Since 2002:

    Cardinals 111-128-1
    5-4 playoffs, 0-1 in SB

    49ers 107-132-1
    6-4 playoffs, 0-1 in SB

    Rams 87-152-1
    1-2 playoffs

    Seahawks 137-102-1
    13-9 playoffs, 1-2 in SB

    Yes, do the math (if you can), Cardinals are closer to the Rams. You guys rock, bruh

  22. It’s low….to low for the Cardinals…

    Last year was a flush type year, lots of bad things happened to them….

    Coach had health issues, didn’t make some key plays…and kicks, cost them multiple games.

    Remember this “22nd” ranked team, with nothing to play for, went into Seattle (Again) and handed the Seahawks a devastating loss last year… And Seahawks fans will tell you that Seattle is amongst NFLs elite.

  23. tyelee says:
    Jul 15, 2017 12:05 PM
    I can think of a couple teams worse than the Cardinals..

    Buccaneers
    Lions
    Bengals
    Dolphins

    ———

    The Dolphins are better than the Cardinals

  24. Last year, September 2016, Week 1 PTF power rankings had Broncos and Panthers at #1 and #2, and Cardinals at #5 and that’s all you need to know about these rankings.

  25. The Seahawks loss to the Cardinals in 2016 was FAR more devastating to the Seahawks…

    Than the Cardinals loss to the Seahawks in 2015….

    The loss in 2015 really didn’t do anything to the Cardinals, they won their game against the Packers and then got worked in the NFC title game…

    On the contrary…

    The loss to Arizona was Devastating to the Seahawks….it outright cost them the 2 seed.. which meant they had to go to Atlanta to get worked, as opposed to being home…. couple that with the Cowboys loss in Divisionals….

    The loss to the Cardinals really cost the Seahawks a shot at a home NFC Championship game….. and since nobody but the Cardinals regularly beat them there….

    It probably cost them a Super Bowl

  26. Ok..how is this ranking even close to accurate? Does anyone on the PFT staff realize the Cardinals were top 10 in offense and defense in ’16. How many teams can claim that? This was a 10 win team with a hack for a kicker that cost the Cardinals 2 games for sure and possibly a third. They also outplayed Seattle in both games, winning in Seattle and outgaining the Seahawks by almost 200 yards at home in the 6-6 tie.

    Yet somehow the Seahawks are worlds better than the Cardinals. What a freaking joke!

  27. SeaChicken fans live in a world devoid of facts and what’s actually happening in the world around them……..Pathetic

  28. Insert either Philp Rivers or Drew Brees, (two guys with no shot to play in February) under center for the Cards and they’d be legit contenders. Palmer is done.

  29. eagler927 says:
    Jul 15, 2017 6:05 PM
    Ok..how is this ranking even close to accurate? Does anyone on the PFT staff realize the Cardinals were top 10 in offense and defense in ’16. How many teams can claim that? This was a 10 win team with a hack for a kicker that cost the Cardinals 2 games for sure and possibly a third. They also outplayed Seattle in both games, winning in Seattle and outgaining the Seahawks by almost 200 yards at home in the 6-6 tie.

    Yet somehow the Seahawks are worlds better than the Cardinals. What a freaking joke!
    …………………………………
    And that is the beauty of the Seahawks….even when they play bad, they are almost always in the game.

  30. aj66shanghai says:
    Jul 15, 2017 4:30 PM

    Yes, do the math (if you can), Cardinals are closer to the Rams. You guys rock, bruh
    _______________

    Thank you for making my case, the math was the point and all of it is correct. When you are done practicing math try working on your reading comprehension. I was not the one saying the Cards were all that. It was your fellow 12 that was trying to pass the Hawks off as having “shattered” a Cards juggernaut that won more games than anyone else over the previous 2 seasons when in fact they had not. I am not a Cardinals fan. I’m just a football fan that doesn’t have any trouble tipping my cap to a quality opponent and can’t abide 12 type nonsense. The Seahawks are a very good team, they deserve a more credible fan base.

    Stay mad little bro.

  31. Even though the Cardinals are ” so terrible”, we can always count on the 2012s to troll.

    Season hasn’t even started, Cardinals already in your head.

    If you guys weren’t worried about the Cards, you wouldn’t post at all.

  32. Funny how people say the Seahawks busted the Cardinals, last I check since Palmer came to town Seahawks havent been able to beat them in their own house yet.

  33. Calais Campbell is way way underrated. Single biggest reason for Cardinals success on defense the last 5 years. He will be sorely missed in AZ. No way I believe in Nkemdiche, and even if Haason Reddick turns out to be a star, it’s gonna take a couple years. Aging Fitz and Palmer, injury prone Mathieu, inconsistent Brown. I’d say 8-8 would be a good season for AZ this year.

  34. Time for a Nothing season again delusional Pigeon twits….sorry clowns get use to missing playoffs with your geezer QB….poor Fitz he deserves better.

  35. Field goals are a big part of the Seahawks game too and they just signed the guy who missed the gimme field goal that would have beaten the Seahawks a couple of years ago in the playoffs. The Seahawks are the “king of the NFC West”? ROTFL They didn’t even win the division two years ago.

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