Week 6 NFL Power Rankings Recap: Cardinals on their way back up
They needed a win in the worst way, and they got one.
The Arizona Cardinals hit the road to play a division opponent on a short week with their backup quarterback at the controls. That’s not exactly the recipe for success, but they got back into the win column. Drew Stanton filled in for Carson Palmer and found Larry Fitzgerald for two touchdown passes and David Johnson ran wild, racking up 157 yards and two scores in a 33-21 triumph.
The victory has quieted the “Cardinals are finished” crowd, and they moved up in all ten of the national NFL Power Rankings we track here on ArizonaSports.com.
Here’s a rundown of what some prominent national outlets are saying about the Cardinals:
Cardinals Average Power Ranking: 14.8
(up from 17.9 last week)
High Ranking: #10 (ESPN)
Low Ranking: #19 (Bleacher Report)
Cardinals rank: #10 (▲ 7)
One more loss and Bruce Arians’ Cardinals would surpass their loss total from 2015. Arians likely doesn’t want that loss to come against his former defensive coordinator (Todd Bowles) when the Cardinals host the Jets on Monday night.
Cardinals rank: #13 (▲ 4)
Win the turnover battle and you often win the battle. I still remember sitting with the researchers at the NFL West offices toward the end of the 2014 season, and for the life of them, they couldn’t figure out how the Cardinals were winning with Drew Stanton at QB. I suggested a potential factor: fourth-quarter turnovers. We looked it up, and sure enough, Arizona had forced 14 turnovers in the fourth quarter to their opponents’ four takeaways. Last Thursday, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Marcus Cooper picks Blaine Gabbert to set up a Chandler Catanzaro field goal. That put the Cards up a comfortable 10 points. Huge play in the game.
Cardinals rank: #15 (▲ 5)
According to Sports Media Watch, Week 5’s Drew Stanton-Blaine Gabbert horror film drew the second-lowest audience for a prime-time NFL game over the past five seasons (it moved to third-lowest after Monday’s Carolina-Tampa Bay game). The Cardinals simply have not given folks much reason to pay attention yet this season. But there’s still time.
Cardinals rank: #17 (▲ 5)
They won without Carson Palmer last Thursday and now should have him back against the Jets and former coordinator Todd Bowles.
Cardinals rank: #16 (▲ 4)
Cardinals rank: #19 (▲ 2)
Is destroying Blaine Gabbert the new end game for Bruce Arians?
If so, the Cardinals did a hell of a job on Thursday Night Football. But they’re in trouble if their goal is to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.
To do that, they’ll have to limit the number of receivers running wild through the secondary—and the 49ers had plenty. They’ll also have to do a little better job at stopping the run than they did against Carlos Hyde. Maybe spread it around to guys not named Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson too.
Take nothing away from Arians’ team. The defense beat up an inferior opponent on a short week with a backup quarterback. But the Cardinals are capable of more.
Cardinals rank: #13 (▲ 5)
The Cardinals have insisted here and there that Drew Stanton could be their next starter when Carson Palmer retires. Assuming you watched last Thursday night’s game, you know that Arizona better start figuring out Plan B for Palmer’s retirement.
Cardinals rank: #15 (▲ 3)
They only have to leave Arizona once between now and Nov. 20. Home cooking and a healthy Carson Palmer should get this team right.
Cardinals rank: #12 (▲ 5)
We’re not saying Drew Stanton is the Cardinals’ best option at quarterback, but perhaps Carson Palmer’s injury will help them see the light on offense. That light is David Johnson, who should touch the ball 30-plus times a game. If they lean on their star running back, the Cardinals can get it back on track in no time.
Cardinals rank: #18 (▲ 1)
It’s not over, but it still feels like it hasn’t gotten started.