The Consensus Week 17: Cardinals inch up after win over Seattle
The Arizona Cardinals went into Seattle to play the Seahawks — a team playing for the number-one overall seed in the NFC Playoff seedings — and dominated them.
The Cardinals used a punishing ground attack led by Kenyan Drake’s 166 yards and two touchdowns to secure a 27-13 win — Arizona’s fifth in its last seven trips to CenturyLink Field.
In fact, the win was the Cardinals’ second straight by 14 points or more, something they hadn’t done since 2015.
You’d think a convincing win against one of the top teams in the conference would have a major effect on the Cardinals’ overall rankings in The Consensus. You’d be wrong.
Here’s a quick rundown of what some of the leading national rankings are saying about the Cardinals and where they stand heading into season finale on the road against the Los Angeles Rams.
High Ranking: 17 (USA Today)
Low Ranking: 27 (Sporting News, The Big Lead)
Week 17 Average Ranking: 22.7 (Up from 24.0 in Week 16)
This Week: 24
Comment: Team MVP: Chandler Jones, OLB
There has been one constant this season for the Cardinals: Jones getting sacks. He leads the league with 19 after a four-sack performance against the Seahawks. And for a defense that’s allowing more than 400 yards per game — second most in the NFL — Jones has been one of the few bright spots while forcing himself into the conversation of the league’s best defenders.
This Week: 24
Comment: There’s the signature win of the Kliff Kingsbury era so far. The Cardinals went into Seattle and thoroughly outplayed a Seahawks team that entered Week 16 as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Even more impressive, Kingsbury’s team closed out the Seahawks even after Kyler Murray was forced out of the game by a strained hamstring. Brett Hundley provided the spark we rarely saw during his extended backup audition in Green Bay, and Kenyan Drake seemed to cement his future as The Man in Arizona’s backfield with 166 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The midseason acquisition of Drake has been one of the best trades of the NFL season: He has 303 rushing yards and six scores over last two games and seven touchdowns since joining Arizona in Week 9. Drake is the reason David Johnson will play elsewhere in 2020.
This Week: 21
Comment: It feels like we’ve been waiting all season for the Cardinals to finally close out an upset, and they did all that and more against the Seahawks. Kyler Murray tallied 118 passing yards, 40 rushing yards and a TD before departing in the third quarter with a mild hamstring injury. Props to Brett Hundley for closing it out, but Kenyan Drake (166 rushing yards on 24 carries, two TDs) gets his second game ball in as many weeks highlighted by this 80-yard scamper.
This Week: 17
Comment: Nice to see Larry Fitzgerald deservedly make NFL’s 100th anniversary team. Can you imagine Fitz in slot between Rice and Moss outside?
This Week: 22
Comment: I was very skeptical about Kliff Kingsbury, and at this point I’d admit to being wrong. It looks like he can coach in the NFL. We need to see way more than 15 games to make sure, but the signs have been good this season. That win on Sunday at Seattle was an impressive way for Kingsbury to put a stamp on his first season.
This Week: 20
Comment: That was an impressive victory at Seattle. This will be a dangerous team next season.
This Week: 24
Comment: If only they weren’t in the NFC West.
This Week: 21
Comment: The Arizona Cardinals won’t make the playoffs in 2019. But they have shown tangible signs of progress in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season as head coach, highlighted by Sunday’s impressive victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
On offense, rookie quarterback Kyler Murray has been solid in his debut season. Tailback Kenyan Drake has been a revelation, averaging over 150 rushing yards and three scores per game over the past two weeks. Murray left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, but that didn’t stop the Redbirds from getting the W.
Defensively, linebacker Jordan Hicks has stayed healthy and ranks fifth in the NFL with 136 total tackles. Edge-rusher Chandler Jones is pacing the NFL with 19 sacks after erupting for four against the Seahawks. Safety Budda Baker ranks second in the league with 96 solo stops.
After another offseason of development and talent acquisition, there’s reason to believe that the Cardinals could be a real factor in the NFC West in 2020.
This Week: 27
Comment: The Cardinals are on to something with Kyler Murray, Kenyan Drake and Kliff Kingsbury. Their defense is also showing some fight late in the season under Vance Joseph. This is a much better situation going forward than they had with the previous coaching staff.
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This Week: 23
Comment: Congrats to the Cardinals for pulling off the most surprising result of Week 16, handily beating the Seahawks (in Seattle!). We’ll see if Kyler Murray’s hamstring will allow him to play in the finale against the Rams, but even if Murray isn’t cleared, at least the Cardinals can feel good about his progress and head into 2020 believing that the gap between them and the rest of the NFC West is narrowing.
This Week: 27
Comment: Marching into Seattle and winning is a tall task any week, much less when the Seahawks are battling for playoff positioning. A very impressive win from this squad.