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Power rankings and the Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2017 – 12:45 pm

I’ve left little doubt how I feel about NFL power rankings. They’re below mock drafts for me, so that’s saying something. But, like mock drafts, people can’t help but look, like a car wreck as you’re driving by on the highway. I thought it was interesting that not only did ESPN do some recent power rankings, but then they had an article disputing some of the rankings. More importantly for this discussion (on a slow news day), the Cardinals were involved.

In the “real” power rankings, the Cardinals were 18th post-draft. They are listed behind eight teams (who make up nine games) on the schedule. But Mike Clay wrote a follow-up article noting a handful of teams ranked too low or too high. The Cardinals made his list of a team ranked too low. He said they deserve to be eighth, not 18th.

This is where you’d normally say it’s hard to know where the Cards should be (but not me, really, since power rankings mean nothing in a playoffs-determine-your-worth league). It does underscore that, generally, no one really knows what to expect from the Cardinals. Sure, in part that’s because it’s May and the rookies haven’t even arrived and we are months from any sort of determination. But after a season of high expectations that weren’t met, analysts are going to feel burned. What will the offense look like — were the issues Palmer-related or more because of letdowns and injuries up front and among receivers (I lean toward the latter.) Can the defense recover from free-agent turnover?

Will the Cardinals be closer to 8 or 18?


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12 Responses to “Power rankings and the Cardinals”

  1. By NyK NyCE CARDZ on May 9, 2017 | Reply

    If MIKE Floyd-Boston didn’t forget how to play WR we may have been ok. I think the loss of Jaron Brown hurt alot too.

  2. By AndyM on May 9, 2017 | Reply

    Darren,

    Really appreciate your disinclination toward hyperbole. My opinion is that the Cardinals over-achieved in ’15, under-achieved in ’16 and have the players to make a playoff run in ’17–if healthy, the chemistry improves and there is a bit of good luck. We shall see, but having lowered expectations from around the league is not horrible. Nobody ever won a game because of their power rank, but a few might have lost games due to reading their own press clippings.

  3. By Coach K on May 9, 2017 | Reply

    Darren,

    I have a strong feeling this team will rebound from the events of last year. I think a few weaknesses were exposed last year and the Cardinals have focused on those areas and made modifications. Starting with special teams which cost the team at least three games, perhaps four. The inability to field a decent kick return and cover on kickoffs was glaring. The kicking game was deplorable.

    Protection for Palmer and dealing with O-line injuries really hurt the team last year. Palmer looked like a crash dummy at times. To his credit, he kept getting up.

    I am very optimistic with the offensive line this year, including the depth. I expect a huge improvement. Defensively, losing Campbell was tough but if Nkemdichi steps up, Budda can step in, and we find a corner either in FA, or someone steps up, I see a big improvement from last year.

    I expect Kerwynn Williams to play a bigger role this year. He is clearly the perfect one-two punch with David.

    I expect DWash to make the club and make major contributions along with Reddick. With so many athletes who can play multiple roles, it is going to be exciting to watch this defense morph into a multiple identities giving opposing offensive coordinators headaches trying to figure out who is coming, who is lining up where, and what coverage we are in.

    My prediction for this year is 11 wins, 5 losses and a Superbowl farewell for Carson and Fitz ending on a high note.

  4. By SweatyCardinalsUK on May 9, 2017 | Reply

    If we base these rankings on the expectations of a healthy roster I feel 8th is appropriate. But if we are realistic about injuries and what rookies can really do, any position is possible. If Palmer, Fitz, PP and DJ get injured I wouldn’t rule out 32nd. It’s just a bit of fun while there’s nothing else to report on.

    I still feel that missing out on the playoffs this year would be an underachievement. The lack of Cardinals hype may actually benefit the team. I think BA prefers it this way.

  5. By creditcard on May 9, 2017 | Reply

    Lets face it, kind of fun looking at various predictions of teams / players / drafts etc… However, predictions don’t mean squat. The only thing that matters is the final score on each game flashed upon the scoreboard.

    Cards management is under the microscope big time this year. If another year similar to last year, then a house cleaning of coaches, management and players will occur. If however, a rebound in victories, and play-off bound — last year is forgiven, and management’s vision is continued.

  6. By Joe Cardea on May 9, 2017 | Reply

    Darren, I know how fond you are of predictions. So here’s mine. 10-6 wins the NFC West. It may take a tiebreaker, but mark it down, 10-6!

  7. By joe holst on May 9, 2017 | Reply

    The lower the Cards are ranked the better so they can stick it to the rest of the league when they go 13-3 again . SB.

  8. By Tradersbrain on May 9, 2017 | Reply

    Interesting that the wise-guys have the Cards total wins in 2017 at 7.5. Shows exactly how they feel about the Cards …. very little respect.

  9. By Gerry on May 10, 2017 | Reply

    Darren,

    The biggest problem with the 2016 Cardinals was the 2015 Cardinals. After a very dynamic and fun season, there appeared to be a lot of guys that thought they could just throw a switch and do it again. Too many started believing their press clippings and video stories.Sorry, Joe Hoist, but there’s no way they are winning 13 games this year. 10 or maybe 11 if things break right. They’ve gotta beat the stinkin’ seahawks twice this year.

    Cheers,!

  10. By clssylssy on May 10, 2017 | Reply

    While these predictions have little more validity than the mhock drafts, it is always nice to see your teamn ranked in the top ten, if only b/c it shows that the media still find the franchise interesting enough to talk about. Anywhere from 8 to 18 is some wiggle room, lol! We had the talent last season but beyond that only excuses after losing critical veteran leadership (when DOESN’T a team have injurieis?) Not much has changed this year, we still are an injury away from having no QB, Larry is our only real receiver who will provide blocking as well as making catches, is our only receiver who scares defenses, and then we have DJ. Hopefully our 0-line is better or else we’re in real trouble (again), Our defense COULD BE decent and hopefully they will be able to put points on the board, ST is hopefully improved but the newbies are facing a steep learning curve. There is that learning curve that new fans don’t seem to understand but which can cost us big time from getting the strong start we need.
    It’s discouraging to longtime fans to have had so few really “successful” seasons and get so little respect from the media. From everything I read, not much has changed from last season except that we have painted ourselves further into a corner by not addressing our obvious needs. I remember when the Seahawks weren’t even a blip on anybody’s radar and now they are a standard by which other teams are measured…sigh. We need some muscle on our offense! Ellington at receiver is not the answer to our receiver deficiency.
    We have one of the weakest schedules in the NFL and if we can’t make the playoffs, hopefully M Bidwill will have an epiphany!

  11. By Kevin S Mesa on May 10, 2017 | Reply

    Power rankings are about respect and expectations. As fans, we always expect more from our own team. We see them add players in the draft and think, “Just think how Player X will help us!” while forgetting that everyone else added players that will help them too.

    We tend to fall in love with our own players as well. It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about Andre Ellington as the focal point of our offense. Then, it quickly became clear that he couldn’t shoulder that burden.

    All that said, it is definitely true that, for the majority of the Arians/Palmer era, the national media (and Vegas) have underestimated the Cards. Obviously, last year was the anomaly, when we went 7-8-1 in a year where we were projected to do better. But here’s an amazing anecdote: In the first three years of Arians’ tenure, the Cardinals not only finished on the “over” side of the Vegas over/under win total, but they had locked up the over BEFORE A SINGLE DOWN OF DECEMBER FOOTBALL WAS PLAYED.

    2013, coming off a 5-11 season, and with people thinking Palmer was washed up, the O/U was set at just 5 1/2 wins. After a slow 3-4 start (which still would’ve been on pace to exceed 5 1/2 wins), the Cards ripped off 4 straight wins to move to 7-4 before finishing WAY over at 10-6. The sixth win occurred on November 17, in their tenth game (so still six remaining games left to be played).

    2014, even after a 10-6 year, the pundits must’ve thought the Cards overachieved, because the O/U was set at just 7 1/2 wins. To their credit, I do recall several writers saying that the Cards going over was one of their “best bets” for that year’s O/U lines. And sure enough, the Cards started out like gangbusters, going 9-1 before the Palmer injury and finishing 11-5. Their 8th win occurred on November 9, in their ninth game (7 games remaining to be played).

    2015, perhaps because people weren’t convinced Palmer could return strong after his injury, the O/U was set at 8 1/2 wins. So a team that had won 10 and 11 games the previous two years (including winning 11 games in a season where Palmer only played 6 of the 16 games) was still not getting any respect. As we all know, this was the 13-3 year that ended badly in the playoffs. The regular season was pretty magical, though, and the Cards won their 9th game, clinching the over for the third straight year, on November 29, in their eleventh game (5 games remaining to be played).

    That was three straight years where the Cards didn’t just go over, but WAY over — by 4.5, 3.5 and 4.5 games. Clinching the over before December (and, in two of the three cases, before Thanksgiving) is almost unheard of, and the Cards did it three years in a row.

    When a team is consistently underestimated like that, it tells you that people aren’t giving enough credit to some of the intangibles (like coaching). It also tells you that people wrote off a still-very-productive QB too soon, just because of his being labelled someone who couldn’t get his team over the hump.

    Now, I was as disappointed as the next guy in last year’s performance, but at the end of the day, the Cards played better than their record showed. Yes, I know, you are what your record says you are, and pointing out that the stats showed we were better isn’t much consolation. But it does provide hope that the team can bounce back. A couple of examples: The Cards were 2-5-1 in games decided by 7 points or fewer. Normally, that stuff evens out. They were also 4th in the NFC in net points, despite only having the 10th best record in the conference. That suggests a team whose record doesn’t reflect its performance.

    How much do the losses on defense hurt us? I don’t know. Are we as good as 2015’s record? Perhaps not. But are we as bad as 2016’s record? I don’t think so. Split the difference and you have a 10-win team… exactly the total we had in Arians/Palmer’s first year when no one expected anything. I’d take that for this year.

    And yes, I’ll be going to Vegas and betting the over again. It’s currently at 8. THREE teams in the AFC South have totals higher than the Cards.

    Could we end up 7-8-1 or worse? Sure. But I’m betting on Arians to right the ship. He’s only let me down once, and the other three years, it was lights out.

  12. By Mark J. Hume on May 14, 2017 | Reply

    First and foremost, Cards–don’t read your own press clippings!!! Of course, it’s how you perform on the field is what counts! Something tells me–special teams are going to be “special” this year. And the defense, the other teams are going to see Cardinal “red” a lot! This year “tackling,” “teamwork,” and “toughness” are keywords the Cardinals!

    The “underdog” role is the perfect position for the Cardinals to be in! It helps to breed satisfaction and excitement to watching, following, and rooting for the Cardinals!

    “If” the Cardinals remain relatively healthy, play like they should play–causing a lot of breaks to go their way–at least ten wins are likely; after that well…hopefully the Cardinals will “shock the world!”

    Go Cardinals!!!

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