The Consensus Week 16: Cardinals surge after complete win over Browns

Dec 17, 2019, 2:54 PM
Running back Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with wide receiver Christian Kirk...
Running back Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with wide receiver Christian Kirk #13 after scoring on a five yard rushing touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Browns 38-24. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It’s been called the most complete performance of the season — not only by critics, but also by players and coaches.

The Arizona Cardinals beat the Cleveland Browns, 38-24, Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale by putting up a season-high in points and over 440 yards of total offense.

The win was also highlighted by the performance of running back Kenyan Drake, who became the first Cardinals player in 26 to score four touchdowns in one game. Drake, who has been Arizona’s feature back since getting traded from Miami in October, is giving the organization plenty to think about as they inch closer to the offseason.

Anyway, the Cardinals moved up in the majority of Power Rankings we track and held steady in a handful of others after beating the Browns.

Here’s a quick rundown of what some of the leading national rankings are saying about the Cardinals and where they stand heading into Week 16 road tilt in Seattle against the Seahawks.

High Ranking: 18 (USA Today)

Low Ranking: 27 (Pro Football Talk, Sporting News, The Big Lead)

Week 16 Average Ranking: 24.0 (Up from 26.6 in Week 15)


Week 16 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus two words to describe each team’s offseason

This Week: 25

Movement: ▲1

Offseason in two words: Roster rebuild

The Cardinals have seen glimpses of how good Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive scheme can be, but there are roster limitations holding it back. The Cardinals need to address holes this offseason if they want to have their first winning season since 2015, most notably on the offensive line and at wide receiver and running back. But the rebuild goes beyond the offense. Arizona also has significant holes on defense, most notably the defensive line. The Cardinals also could use help at linebacker and cornerback. How general manager Steve Keim handles it should dictate whether he continues as the Cardinals’ GM in 2021.


NFL Power Rankings, Week 16: Saints leapfrog Seahawks, 49ers

This Week: 24 

Movement: ▲4

Comment: This game was billed as a showdown of the past two No. 1 overall picks, but Kenyan Drake stole the show from the hotshot quarterbacks on Sunday in the desert. Drake rushed for a career-high four touchdowns in a 38-24 win over the Browns in Glendale. The win was especially sweet for Drake, who was traded from the then-winless Dolphins at midseason and had endured a personal losing streak that had covered 14 weeks. Drake also ran for a career-best 137 yards, part of a 226-yard rushing day for Arizona. Drake’s big afternoon further clouds the future of one-time starter David Johnson, who last week expressed unhappiness with his vastly reduced role. Johnson figures to be a goner this season, most likely via trade.


NFL Power Rankings Poll, Week 16: Saints to No. 2, Patriots Fall to Lowest Spot This Season

This Week: 24

Movement: ▲1

Comment: The Cardinals stayed one step ahead of the hapless Browns all afternoon to complete the “upset.” Game ball goes to Kenyan Drake, who rewarded dedicated fantasy owners with 137 yards and four TDs (both career highs) on 22 rushes for Arizona.


NFL power rankings: Seahawks return to top five after reclaiming No. 1 seed in Week 15

This Week: 18

Movement: ▲10

Comment: Remains to be seen if trade for Kenyan Drake ultimately helps anyone other than Kenyan Drake, who’s heading into free agency with full head of steam.


NFL Power Rankings: Is 49ers loss a cause for any concern?

This Week: 24

Movement: ▲1

Comment: I didn’t get why the Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake in a lost season but it looks good now. They must have seen that Adam Gase and the Dolphins criminally underused Drake. Drake becomes a fascinating free agent, though you have to assume the Cardinals try to resign him before he hits the market.


NFL Week 16 Power Rankings: Cowboys on the rise after impressive win over Rams, 49ers drop four spots

This Week: 20

Movement: ▲4

Comment: The offense got back on track, which is a good sign for next season. Kyler Murray broke a two-game slump.

Week 16 power rankings

This Week: 27

Movement: ▲3

Comment: How much more help can the Cardinals get around Kyler Murray in the coming offseason?

NFL Power Rankings: B/R’s Consensus Rank for Every Team Entering Week 16

This Week: 22

Movement: ▲5

Comment: The Arizona Cardinals have had an up-and-down season—one with more downs than ups.

But Sunday in Glendale, they offered a glimpse into a brighter future.

They pummeled the Browns in a 14-point victory, tallying 226 rushing yards on 35 carries for a robust average of 6.5 yards per attempt. Tailback Kenyan Drake had a career day, peeling off 137 yards on 22 totes and finding the end zone four times.

Kyler Murray added 56 yards of his own on the ground, setting a franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback. But the rookie’s 219 yards and a score on 19-of-25 passing was an even bigger cause for optimism.

The Cardinals have a ways to go before they’ll be contenders—especially in a loaded NFC West. But Sunday’s performance appears to at least indicate that first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury has his young team headed in the right direction.

NFL power rankings: Packers, Chiefs, Seahawks rise; 49ers, Steelers, Bears fall for Week 16

This Week: 27

Movement: —

Comment: Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury have given the team plenty of promise going forward, with an assist from new feature running back Kenyan Drake. The offseason priority will be fixing the defense.

NFL Power Rankings: Playoff seeding keeps shifting — and so does our Top Five

This Week: 26

Movement: —

Comment: The Cardinals’ six-game losing streak is over, and Kyler Murray owns personal bragging rights over his fellow Heisman-winning Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. We’ll call that a pretty good week for an Arizona team that hasn’t had much to be excited about lately.

Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

This Week: 27

Movement: —

Comment: Their win against the Browns should make them feel good as they head into the offseason and try to give Kyler Murray some more weapons. Apparently Jarvis Landry was among those hollering at the Cardinals’ sideline to “come get him”, so that task might be easier than once thought.

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The Consensus Week 16: Cardinals surge after complete win over Browns