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NFL Power Rankings Roundup Week 17: Cardinals reach the pinnacle

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Cory Redding (90) celebrates his touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

The Arizona Cardinals didn’t have much room to move up in the NFL Power Rankings.

Bruce Arians’ team had won eight straight games to wrap up the NFC West, but had an undefeated Carolina Panthers team sitting in the top spot.

Then Sunday happened.

Carolina lost to the Atlanta Falcons while the Cardinals completely throttled the Green Bay Packers in Glendale, racking up nine quarterback sacks on their way to a 38-8 win at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Many experts have anointed the Cardinals as number-one in their newest power rankings, but it’s not unanimous., Yahoo! Sports and USA Today still have the Cardinals trailing the Panthers in their respective pecking orders.

Here’s a closer look at where Arizona ranks in the NFL Power Rankings Roundup for Week 17:


NFLGOLDNFL Power Rankings, Week 17: Chiefs, Jets enter the top five

#2 (no movement)

So Cory Redding has two-inch hops. And a touchdown. That sure looked like the best team in the NFL thrashing the Packers on Sunday. Carson Palmer is a certifiable MVP candidate. David Johnson has produced like anything but a third-round pick from Northern Iowa. The wide receiver corps — Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown, and J.J. Nelson — is, top to bottom, the premier group in the league. And give it up to the Honey Badger-less secondary, which caused Aaron Rodgers to hold, hold, hold, until he was being draped all over.

espnlogo2015 NFL Power Rankings: Week 17

#1 (up 1 spot)

The Cardinals have won nine straight games for only the second time in franchise history. The last time they did that was across the 1948-49 seasons (11 straight).

sportsillustratedNFL Power Rankings Week 17: Cards fly to top for final week of season

#1 (up 1 spot)

Sometimes, the best evidence for a coaching staff’s genius comes when it is forced into a tough spot. Not that anyone needs further evidence of how money Bruce Arians and co., have been in Arizona, but D.J. Swearinger’s play the last two weeks have provided it. Swearinger, just signed on Dec. 1, was promoted from the practice squad on Dec. 8 and played 54 steady snaps with Rashad Johnson out in Week 15. Then with Johnson and Tyrann Mathieu down Sunday, Swearinger delivered as a starter, in Arizona’s dominant defensive effort against the Packers.

foxsports2015 NFL Power Rankings: Week 17

#1 (up 1 spot)

Talk about a statement game — the Cardinals dominated a Packers team that many thought was destined for postseason success. If the Cardinals can continue to generate pressure like they did in Week 16, they will make a deep postseason run.

bleacherreportNFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Rank Heading into Week 17?

#1 (up 1 spot)

The Cardinals do more than just win games. They crush souls and dreams.

They’ve won nine straight games to first clinch their division, and now a first-round bye after a 38-8 throttling of the Packers Sunday afternoon. Three of their last four wins during that stretch have come by 20-plus points.

The Cardinals’ only real perceived weakness was an inability to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Any concern there was answered thunderously with eight sacks on Rodgers.

sbnation2015 NFL power rankings, Week 17: Cardinals on top, Chiefs climb; Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks drop

#1 (up 1 spot)

However, with a dominating blowout win over the Packers at home, the Arizona Cardinals move up claim the top spot in this week’s rankings, their first trip to the No. 1 spot this entire season. It’s been a long time coming though, as Carson Palmer powered his crew to their ninth straight win. They’re balling on offense, averaging a league-best 420 yards and 32.2 points per game, while the defense is giving up a paltry 18.5 points per contest. That means, on average, the Cardinals are winning in a blowout, and even worse for their potential foes in the playoffs, they seem to be getting better as the season goes on.


cbssportsNFL Power Rankings: Cardinals take top perch, but can they keep it?

#1 (up 1 spot)

The Arizona Cardinals are the best team in the NFL.

There, I said it.

They’ve ripped off nine straight victories, beating some good teams along the way, to get to 13-2 and have a chance at the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The Cardinals lead the NFL in scoring, are fourth in scoring defense and are tops in point differential, one of the most-telling stats of all. Coach Bruce Arians has an aggressive offense led by Carson Palmer that will challenge defenses deep and won’t back down.

The defense is aggressive, will blitz from all angles, and is ranked seventh in the league in third-down defense, which means the Cardinals are getting off the field. When your offense can score the way the Cardinals can score, third-down defense is so important.

After their blowout of the Packers this past Sunday, coupled with the Carolina Panthers’ loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Cardinals now move up to the top spot in my Power Rankings. I thought Arizona would have a good team, but they are even better than I expected.

yahoosportsNFL Power Rankings: A change at the top? Nope, not necessary

#2 (up 1 spot)

The Packers offense seems beyond broken, but it’s still a huge positive for the Cardinals defense to play that well without Tyrann Mathieu.

profootballtalkPFT’s Week 17 power rankings

#1 (up 1 spot)

Nine straight wins, and a much-deserved leapfrogging of a team with one less loss.

usatodayUSA Today Power Rankings

#2 (up 1 spot)

Strong case that they’re Super Bowl 50 frontrunners with league’s top offense and a D that just embarrassed Aaron Rodgers.

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