Week 1 of the National Football League season is in the books, and the Arizona Cardinals acquitted themselves quite nicely in their 2015 season opener.
With quarterback Carson Palmer back and healthy after seeing most of his 2014 campaign wiped away by injury, the Cardinals disposed of the New Orleans Saints 31-19 at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday. Palmer threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, to put the game away.
Arizona is now 14-2 in the last 16 games started by Palmer, dating back to the 2013 season.
Every week here on ArizonaSports.com, we’ll take a look at the national perspective on the Birdgang — in the form of NFL Power Rankings from around the country.
Cardinals’ Average Power Ranking: 6.4
#5 (up 4 spots from last week)
Andre Ellington’s knee injury hurts. The guy was banged up all last year. Sure, David Johnson scored the clinching touchdown in Sunday’s win, but that came late, with the Saints trying to keep Arizona from getting a first down. The Chris Johnson signing now looms large, as the artist formerly known as CJ2K will have to pick up serious slack for however long Ellington is out. Carson Palmer performed well running that offense; he looked pretty mobile on that rollout touchdown pass. #encouraging
#6 (up 4 spots)
Carson Palmer threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter in Week 1. Palmer has an 88.0 Total QBR in the fourth quarter the past two seasons, best in the NFL.
#4 (up 4 spots)
QB wins is a highly flawed stat (to wit: Matt Cassel actually gets credit for Buffalo’s Week 1 victory because he took the first snap, with Tyrod Taylor lined up in the slot). There is still no denying what Carson Palmer means to the Cardinals. They now have won seven straight with him under center, dating back to last season.
#5 (up 6 spots)
The Cardinals defense hasn’t skipped a beat despite losing defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy, there are few quarterbacks outside of the NFL’s elite who are a better fit for head coach Bruce Arians’ offensive scheme.
#7 (up 2 spots)
The Arizona Cardinals offense will go as far as quarterback Carson Palmer’s duct-taped knee will allow. So calling his 307-yard, three-touchdown outing in a win over the New Orleans Saints encouraging would be quite the understatement.
#4 (up 5 spots)
Defense wins championships, it’s said, but it sure helps to have some offense too. That was apparent for three teams: the Arizona Cardinals, Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.
Carson Palmer threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns to help the Cardinals hold off the New Orleans Saints. They look poised to take the NFC West.
#4 (up 2 spots)
Carson Palmer looked impressive in his return to real game action against the Saints. If he can play like that, they will be a Super Bowl contender.
#11 (up 1 spot)
The Cardinals appear convinced that Chris Johnson can be the lead back while Andre Ellington is out for perhaps a few weeks with a PCL sprain in his right knee. Maybe Bruce Arians sees something that wasn’t apparent in Johnson the past few years.
#8 (up 3 spots)
Maybe if they keep winning they can afford to re-sod the whole field and not just the middle of it.
#10 (1st ranking of the season)
From ‘did you know?’ file, Carson Palmer is 14-2 over past 16 starts with Arizona and has won seven straight.
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