Preseason Power Rankings No. 11: Arizona Cardinals

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The Arizona Cardinals finished the 2013 season as one of the hottest teams in the league. The Cardinals finished 7-2 over the final nine games with their only two losses coming by a field goal to a pair of playoff teams in Philadelphia and San Francisco. In addition, Arizona is the only team in two seasons to defeat the Seattle Seahawks at home with a 17-10 win in Week 16.

However, the Cardinals have lost a few key pieces off a defense that ranked sixth in the league last season. Karlos Dansby signed with the Cleveland Browns in free agency and Daryl Washington was suspended for the year for another drug violation.

Free agent additions Larry Foote and Antonio Cromartie on defense, and Jared Veldheer, John Carlson and Ted Ginn on offense could help the Cardinals mount a challenge against Seattle and the San Francisco 49ers for control of the NFC West.


The Cardinals possess one of the best 3-4 defensive fronts in the league. Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell are stalwarts at defensive end with Dan Williams and Alameda Ta’Amu as solid options at nose tackle. John Abraham continues to defy his age after posting 11.5 sacks for Arizona last season as a rush linebacker.

Arizona appears to have finally found a true complement to pair with Larry Fitzgerald in Michael Floyd. With the addition of Ted Ginn and third-round pick John Brown, quarterback Carson Palmer should have a bevy of options to help build upon his 4,000-yard campaign last season.


The signing of Jared Veldheer and the return of the 2014 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper should help stabilize an offensive line that has long been mediocre at best. However, the right side of the line brings more questions. Journeyman Paul Fanaika is penciled in right guard with a triumvirate of Nate Potter, Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell likely battling for the job at right tackle.

With Dansby and Washington out of the picture, the Cardinals need to find suitable replacements at inside linebacker. Foote and 2013 second-round pick Kevin Minter will be called upon to step into the vacated roles, but they’ll have massive production to replace. Foote played in just one game last season with Minter unproven as an every down player. Ernie Sims and Lorenzo Alexander could also push for playing time.


Dansby and Washington are the most notable departures for the Cardinals on defense while right tackle Eric Winston and left guard Daryn Colledge are gone on offense. First-round pick Deone Buchanon will be called upon to replace Yeremiah Bell alongside Tyrann Mathieu (when healthy) at safety.

Antonio Cromartie should be an upgrade from Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel and Javier Arenas at cornerback. John Carlson (if he can stay healthy) and second-round pick Troy Niklas should provide some more consistent depth at tight end as well.

Camp battles.

The battles for starting spots along the right side of the Cardinals offensive line will be important to watch. Sowell and Massie have both struggled when called upon to start in the past and Arizona could use consistency up front.

The battle for the inside linebacker jobs should be the most fierce with Foote, Minter, Sims and Alexander all competing for two spots.

Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer will be battling for secondary carries behind Andre Ellington, who showed flashes of promise as a rookie.


The Arizona Cardinals should be legitimate contenders for a playoff spot this season if they can recapture the momentum they finished with in 2013. The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers will enter the season as the favorites to win the division, but the Cardinals aren’t far behind.

They will face a slightly more favorable schedule than their fellow division rivals and will likely be ready to pounce if either Seattle or San Francisco falters this fall.

Carson Palmer has stabilized the revolving door at quarterback over the past several seasons and the offensive line is in better shape than it’s been in a long time. The secondary should be improved with the additions of Cromartie and Buchanon as well. If the Cardinals can find adequate replacements for Dansby and Washington, they should once again be a force on defense.

The Cardinals reside in the best division in football but they appear to be up for the task of challenging for a playoff spot alongside the Seahawks and 49ers.

72 responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 11: Arizona Cardinals

  1. The Arizona Cardinals are easily winning the division this year.

    The Seattle Seahawks will be lucky to make the playoffs this year.

  2. I respect the Arizona Cardinals fans.

    They are die-hard, live or die type fans that are always there for their team.

    The 12th women Seahawk fans are the complete opposite.

    They all jumped on the bandwagon in 2011, and now talk like they’re the best, and their team cheats.

    Go Cardinals!

  3. I think they may be the 11th best in the league, but I don’t think they are within the 6 best in the NFC, so they won’t likely make the playoffs.

  4. Arizona had a great run last year, but it’s LB corps is in shambles and they have a starting safety trying to come back from an ACL. They play in an unforgiving division. The Rams are a bigger threat to Seattle and San Francisco than Arizona is right now.

  5. thepftpoet says:

    “The Arizona Cardinals are easily winning the division this year.

    The Seattle Seahawks will be lucky to make the playoffs this year.”

    Do the Cardinals have 15 ex-Vikings on the team or something?

    I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see the Cardinals push the 49ers aside and out of the playoff hunt, but I don’t see them ready to challenge the Seahawks for the division yet.

  6. If Palmer plays like he did the 2nd half of last year, the Cards will be a real threat. Niners lost a lot in the secondary and Bowman, and the defending champ always slides a little.

  7. If Dansby was still in town , if Daryl wasn’t suspended, and if Tyrann wasn’t hurt, then they would absolutely deserve to be in the top 12 Given those three, however, I’d say this is awfully high

  8. They need a QB. Carson Palmer is old and way past his prime, I don’t think he ever even had a prime. I’d rather have Ponder or Schaub as my QB than Palmer.

    Way to high. Patrick Peterson is a great CB and Larry Fitzgerald is a top 5 receiver. No one else on that team presents a strong threat. Plus Niners and Seahawks… is rough for that division when you’re not the Niners or Hawks.

  9. From last week:

    Dansby and Washington are great talents and their loss will be felt.


    One reason they were both able to do their jobs so well is the excellent play from the line and secondary (both of which were improved in the offseason). I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I would have a hard time believing they are now a dweller in the basement.

    Tidbit: no other team had free rushers to the QB as much as AZ. that’s because of Todd Bowles, not the players.

  10. Hard for this Bears fan to see the Cardinals ranked above us, but it’s justified. The 2nd-best (and maybe even 3rd-best) team from the NFC West this year is likely to be better than anything the NFC North produces.

  11. Looks like all those years of stockpiling early round draft picks have finally paid off for the teams of the NFC West. Maybe in about 5 years the NFC East can return to relevancy… then again, with guys like Snyder and Jones making decisions, not so sure.

  12. I think the Cardinals are a good team. However I’m not so sure that a 35 year old Carson Palmer is to be trusted over Wilson, Kaepernick, and possibly Bradford if he finally puts all the pieces together.

  13. hard luck team last year

    I thought Cardinals were better than ANY AFC team last year….

    this year, only Denver may be better among AFC… sorry Pats fans, you guys are not good, just lucky to be in your division and conf…. the bad news, you are in the toughest division in football this year

  14. Palmer was a new QB on a team with a new coach and offensive scheme and the worst left tackle in the NFL and it showed first half of last season. If he continues to progress or even plays like he did in the second half, however, the Cards are as good as the other two NFC West powerhouses.

    The addition of Veldheer and first round pick Cooper on the left side is a vast improvement even with the loss of Winston, who was just ok last year.

    Arians talked all last year about how his offense was still lacking a Heath Miller type TE and a deep speed threat, and he went and got TEs Carlson and even better rookie Troy Nicklas and WRs Ginn and Brown (keep an eye on this small school phenom). Floyd is a legit stud coming into his third year which allows Fitz to be used as he should in his older years. RB Ellington proved how dangerous he is and with a left side of Veldheer/Cooper upgraded from Levi Brown the Bradley Sowell?/College must be chomping at the bit.

    On D the loss at ILB of Dansby and Washington are the big hit. But AZ has signed some FAs and had a ton of LBs on IR that come back healthy this year. And 2nd rounder Minter is no slouch. The two weaknesses on last year’s D were SS to cover TEs and CB2 across from Peterson. So they went and got Cromartie, who could be CB1 on a ton of teams, and drafted their top SS choice in Buchannon with their first pick. They even got better on special teams.

    Being the Cardinals, it’s hard to say it, but I wouldn’t blink at a higher ranking than 11…as high as 6th. I’d bet on them vs Green Bay, Indy, Carolina, Cincinnati…

  15. Good thing they play the weak Rams twice a year — or at least that what the Rams’ #20 rating would have you believe. Good luck with that, PFT.

  16. 11 beats their 29 2012 PFT Preseason ranking…and we all saw how accurate that was. 11 is nice but I think PFT set the bar for this team low again.

  17. Cards were tough last year. They’ve lost some parts this year. Can’t say the replacements will be better or worse. You just never know. However that D Line is excellent. They have the best CB in the game IMO and one of the best WRs. The OL needs to play better than they have. If they do their a contender. If not we’ll wonder why we thought they were so good.

  18. These power rankings are a joke. EAGLES kill the
    Bears 54-11….yet the bears come in 1 place ahead. Eagles beat the Cardinals last year yet still are 2 spots ahead of the Eagles……Do you really think that in an offseason where they lost Desean Jackson but got Sproles, Jenkins, Marcus Williams, nolan carroll, jordan matthews, josh huff and everyone else improving from year 1 still can’t beat these teams?? SO DUMB.

  19. Watch the Cardinals plummet along with the Ravens when the regular season rankings become available..

  20. Is there love on the PFT panel for the AFC North or what? Ravens and Bengals both in the Top 10 and the Browns at least 5-7 spots too high.

  21. “AFC is a joke….”

    Your first game is against the Chargers; if the Cards can get past them, then they are a legit #11, if not move the Chargers to 11 and Cards to 16.

    Either way, should be a great game. Good luck this year.

  22. How are the Panthers in the top 10. Our defense is stout, but I just don’t see how our offense can be highly successful with no real #1 at WR and a decimated OL.

  23. “They will face a slightly more favorable schedule than their fellow division rivals and will likely be ready to pounce if either Seattle or San Francisco falters this fall.”

    Huh? There are literally two games difference between the Cardinals an any other team in the division, all other games the Cardinals share the same opponents (Though home/away can be different).

  24. 11’s a little high, but that out of the realm of possibility.

    The Cardinal’s big problems are here THIS YEAR but are coming soon. Palmer is a good qb, but how much does he have left in the tank? At 34, he’s got 2 or 3 years left. Larry Fitzgerald is 30.

  25. This is the first position ranking that sparks more anticipation in me for the 2014 season. I’m not a Cardinals fan, but I like the good story this would be if they actually emerged as one of the league’s best this year … like Kansas City did last year.

  26. bassplucker says:
    Jul 17, 2014 4:26 PM
    Still not sold on Michael Floyd. Don’t know why, I’m just not.

    It could only be because you didn’t see him play last year…

  27. *yawn*

    This team sucks every year. They can rarely sustain consecutive winning seasons. Wouldn’t be surprised if they win 4-6 games this year.

  28. Cardinals would easily clinch a playoff berth on the AFC. But since they play on the NFC west, it’s less likeable.

    Their defense is elite, their secondary is easily top 3 (only Seattle and NE have better ones), but losing their two starting MLBs will hurt. WR duo is on pair with Chicago, Denver, Atlanta and Washington, top 5 on the league.

    Biggest concerns are the terrible OL and Carson Palmer, which has been downhill and it isn’t a QB that can fix its OL woes with mobility like Wilson.

    Win-loss range is really tough for them, they can disappoint everybody and finish 7-9 or have a breakout season and clinch the division (but they would probably need 12 wins).

    Wildcard seem something more possible since I still see them behind both SEA and SF, in 2013 the bar was too high with the 12-4 Niners and the 11-5 Saints, a 10-6 record like last season may guarantee them.

  29. Cardinals would easily clinch a playoff berth on the AFC. But since they play on the NFC west, it’s less likeable.

    This AFC/NFC disparity is way overblown. Probably because of the SBowl blowout. There are 10 teams left in the power rankings, 5 from each conference. Arizona is not better than NE, Balt, Indy, Cincy or Denver. They’d be fighting for the last playoff spot in the AFC, just like they will in the NFC. CPalmer is still your QB, after all.
    What’s he ever won? He lost and played poorly in the only playoff game he played significant time in, and that was back in his prime. Ariz is a nice team, but not good enough. A fringe playoff team, like the Steelers, Chargers, Bears, etc.

  30. Watch the tape on the Seahawks/Cardinals game from the Clink last year…Seattle gave that game to Arizona…Even a blind man could see that…St. Louis, San Fran and Arizona will all battle for last place in the NFC West this season…I’ll be letting you know as it happens…Believe it…

  31. Last season, almost every bounce and call when Seattle’s way. Will that happen again? Highly unlikely in the NFL since there are so many teams close in talent and and a 16 game schedule does not allow bad games to be averaged out.

    Look to see which team gets the fairy tale season, and you will see the team most likely to finish the season with a win.

    Any of the top teams can be the lucky one, even the Cards since Palmer has returned to passing for over 4,000 yards per season, and the absences of Dansby and Washington in a highly structured defense that produces monster pressure upfront on the offense can only offer real opportunities for good LBs to be great LBs. IF the offensive line improves, then no NFL team will look forward to playing the Cards.

  32. thepftpoet says:
    I respect the Arizona Cardinals fans.

    They are die-hard, live or die type fans that are always there for their team.

    The 12th women Seahawk fans are the complete opposite.

    They all jumped on the bandwagon in 2011, and now talk like they’re the best, and their team cheats.

    Go Cardinals!


    Only comment hes ever post that makes sense.

  33. AZ has a good defense, and probably will be improved on offense this year.

    But 11th is a bit rich.

    They’d win the division if they played in the NFC East, but in the West- 3rd or 4th place and an also-ran come playoff time has to be the expectation.

  34. AFC is a joke.. sorry Roger but it is true
    AFC has 5 worst teams and only one team that may be in discussion for top 5ish team
    Cardinals were better than any AFC team last year and they did not make playoffs
    AFC teams have inflated records; Pats in particular have inflated record not only due to AFC but its horrendous division

    Cardinals should be higher; better than at least 4 teams yet to be ranked

  35. Looking forward to watching the Pats in the Super Bowl in Arizona. Don’t think it’s the cards for the Cards to be the opponent. NOrleans, I think.

  36. I can see AZ battling it out the 49ers for the West this year. I just have this feeling Seahawks will get the hangover and fall off a bit.

  37. Top 5 locks: NE/Denver. Find 1 power ranking that says different.

    NFC vs AFC last yr: 34-30. Dominance? Don’t think so.

    Any other non-facts I can debunk, let me know.

  38. So they still have Carson Palmer tossing picks, and got worse on defense but you think they’re better than the Eagles who actually made the playoffs and beat the Cards last year?

  39. The. 9ers will be taking the division back this season no question, it’s up to AZ to grab a wild card spot Seadderall will be finishing up in the 4 spot this season bet.

  40. Carson Palmer is a capable QB, he makes smart reads and can lead the team, but the Cards have no one their grooming. Palmer is old, even a minor injury could linger and cause the team to miss out. Should have drafted someone who could start in an emergency.

  41. If the Cards were in the AFC West-they would give the Broncos a serious run for their money. Arizona is a very underrated team. Yes they have questions but so does EVERY team. If they stabilize the offensive line they could be better than 2013. Stay healthy of course.

  42. Cardinals do have some good fans, as does every city. I live in Phoenix after living in Philly for 30 years and its NIGHT and DAY difference. Cards aren’t in the top 25 when it comes to fans. Its the 5th largest city in the US and you rarely meet a die hard Cards fan. I see more Raiders and Cowboy jerseys at their games then Cardinal jerseys.

  43. thepftpoet said:

    I respect the Arizona Cardinals fans. They are die-hard, live or die type fans that are always there for their team. The 12th women Seahawk fans are the complete opposite.They all jumped on the bandwagon in 2011, and now talk like they’re the best, and their team cheats.

    Go Cardinals!

    Poet obviously doesn’t know much about either the Cardinals or the Seahawks. I went to Arizona State for my doctorate back in ’96, and because I live in Alaska and have to spend a lot of money to go see pro football, I looked forward to attending Cardinals’ games. Man, was I shocked! The first game I watched was against the Raiders. Raiders fans seemed to outnumber Cards fans — by far! Cards fans rarely cheered, whereas the Raiders fans were loud (and obnoxious). By contrast, I’ve been a Hawks fan since the team’s inception. Remember the infamous NOISE RULE back in the day, constantly being assessed against the Seahawks? The Kingdome used to QUAKE. So do a little real research before you spout off your so-called “poetry.”

  44. Unlike some on this board, some of us actually go to the Cardinals games and watch them.

    They are the last team to beat Seattle, and beat them at home. That win was largely due to their stellar defense.

    Fairweather Philly fanboys love to act like the Eagles thumped the Cards, but everyone who actually watched that game knows that the Cardinals were only one big play away from tying the game (final score 24-21). BTW, that game was in Philly. You think the Eagles will have the same luck in a sold-out University of Phoenix Stadium? Doubt it.

    The 49ers needed OT just to squeak past the Cards in that stadium. The Uggles ain’t the 49ers.

    Also, “concerns at LB” are overrated. Ask any NFL scout what the most replaceable positions are that you never overpay for — LB is at the top of the list. Just ask Matt Williamson of NFL Today.

  45. To the two Eagles fans who mentioned they should be ranked higher than the Cards because they won the matchup…do you remember how that game ended? A badly blown call gave the game to Philly. The Cards should have had that one, then they’d have been in the playoffs. Deservedly so. Nobody wants the Eagles to win except Philly residents, let’s be honest.

  46. look man the Rams and Cards are a cute story and they play hard against the Niners and Hawks but please. I have a funny feeling both the SEA and SF are gona slap em around this year and put em in thier place as door mats. NFC west again will be Niners or Hawks.

  47. Bigbaldpapahawk, you can’t categorize your team as classy when you have someone as classless as Richard Sherman on your team. The truth is If you are the best at what you do, you don’t have to attempt to constantly remind everyone… ask Jerry Rice.

  48. Been to a cards game, in Arizona. Worst fans I have ever been around. Whiny, didn’t cheer. Told fans who were cheering to sit down. Horrible experience in Arizona.

  49. Been to four Cards game in University of Phoenix Stadium. Best fans I have ever been around. At game’s start, cheering was so loud you had to scream to get the person next to you to hear you. Stood up two-thirds of each game.

    Best part was a heavily-tatted 49ers fan in gangland attire leaving in the 4th quarter (game was close and went into OT, by the way). He got booed by both aisles, in part because he was flipping the bird to everybody. Typical poor sportsmanship from NorCal fanboys.

  50. Cards at 11 and the Rams were at 20? Lmao yea right. Arizona is the most overrated team in the league BY FAR.

  51. OK boys and girls….if you don’t think that Arizona is a definite threat to win the NFC West then you’re not very bright. I’ve been following the NFL closely now for 44 years and the Arizona Cardinals are very good but they also happen to play in the toughest division in the NFL. I see them going 10-6 but once again it may not be good enough to make the playoffs…we’ll just have to wait and see. They have an outstanding head coach and have put together a complete team….now if only Minter, Sims & Foote can handle the “next man up” motto the Cards will be fine. They’ve improved on their 2 biggest weaknesses…offensive line and strong safety. The OL will provide much needed protection for Palmer which in turn should cut down on INT’s and the addition of Buchanon will provide critical coverage on opposing TE’s. Ellington is set to have a breakout year and Arians has this team ready to take the next step towards a title. So kids….if the Cards can avoid a major injury they’re a serious threat in the West.

  52. dis the cards because of the loss of good players, that happens every year in football. next man up. that d was not 2 people . . . . it wasn’t 11 people. the reason for the number six d in the league last year was depth. and now we have more of it in some key areas. the d line, and the back end. they have good vets and good young plug and play guys, and their outside backers are outstanding. from abraham, to shaughnessey, acho, and okafor (former texas long horn). they had 47 sacks last year playing in a division with 2 of the top 3 most mobile qb’s in the league, boasts the number 1 rush d agains seattle x2, san fran x2, the eagles, the panthers, bucs, lions, titans, all good rushing teams. they are one of the best at taking the ball away from their opponents in the last 4 years. possibly the best . . . . they have more depth and consistency on both sides of the ball, especially in the skills department. palmer will be no slouch with the talent he has in carlson, ballard, housler, and the rookie at tight end. floyd, fitz, golden, ginn jr, jaron brown, and john brown at wide out gives them athleticism, good hands, and burners to stretch the field. palmer has thrown for 4000+ with the raiders and cardinals in the past two years, with less talent in space, and less stability in front of him. do some real evaluation before you disect a team you dont actually follow. . . . this team should be good, but its a prove it league

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