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NFL Power Rankings Roundup Week 15: Cardinals stuck at No. 2

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) runs as Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Remember when the national pundits downgraded the Arizona Cardinals’ chances for success this season because of the advanced analytics that suggested they couldn’t repeat their performance in close games from 2014?

Yeah, about that …

Dwight Freeney strip-sacked Teddy Bridgewater in the closing seconds and Calais Campbell recovered for the Cardinals, sealing a thrilling 23-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings last Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.

While the Cardinals have had their share of blowout wins (four of 24 points or more), they’ve also thrived recently in those close games. Arizona has won four straight games decided by seven points or less. It’s one of the reasons they’re 11-2, in the playoffs for a second straight year and near the top of various power rankings from around the NFL.

Here’s a look at where Bruce Arians’ Cardinals fare in the NFL power rankings heading into Week 15.


NFLGOLDNFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Patriots up; Bengals drop

#2 (no movement)

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

espnlogo2015 NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

#2 (no movement)

Carson Palmer leads the NFL this season with an 83.6 Total QBR. He is one touchdown pass shy of tying his career high, set all the way back in 2005.

sportsillustratedWeek 15 NFL Power Rankings: Injuries, upsets shake up AFC’s best

#2 (up 2 spots)

Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t really like to talk about his blocking prowess, but when the time comes to debate his Hall of Fame case years from now, he will enjoy having the extra ammo. Fitzgerald showed off that aspect of his game again Thursday, throwing a pancake block downfield to spring Michael Floyd for a 42-yard TD.

foxsports2015 NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

#2 (no movement)

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.

bleacherreportNFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Rank Heading into Week 15?

#2 (no movement)

David Johnson was the seventh running back selected during the 2015 draft, and now after only two starts he’s already produced 243 yards from scrimmage for the Cardinals. He’s maintained much-needed stability in a backfield that supports quarterback Carson Palmer and his vertical dart-throwing.

sbnation2015 NFL power rankings, Week 15: Panthers still king while Seahawks, Patriots rise

#2 (up 2 spots)

The NFC is well represented this week as the Cardinals make a jump up to the second spot after dispatching the Vikings at home on Thursday Night Football. Carson Palmer is putting up an MVP-caliber season of his own and rookie David Johnson has filled in admirably for Chris Johnson at the running back spot. Arizona can throw the ball all over the field with the best of them, it can run and it has one of the most confounding and aggressive defenses in the league — currently second in takeaways (25) with three games to go. The Cardinals are a perfect example of balance between young playmakers — Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Deone Bucannon, John Brown, David Johnson — and savvy veteran leaders like Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Calais Campbell, and Dwight Freeney.


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#2 (no movement)

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.

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#3 (down 1 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.

profootballtalkPFT’s Week 15 power rankings

#2 (up 2 spots)

The new America’s Team is 4-0 in prime time, with another date on Sunday Night Football looming.

usatodayUSA Today Power Rankings

#3 (down 1 spot)

There is no older NFL franchise. But if Cards get one more win, it will be the first time in 96 years they’ll reach 12.

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