Cardinals vs Panthers: Breaking the Streak

cardinals vs panthers
Credit: AZ Central

This week it is Cardinals vs Panthers. The Cardinals have lost their last 5 games against the Panthers. Sunday they look to break that streak and seek revenge from last year. Last year they lost in Carolina to a McCaffrey-less Panthers team.

Kyler Murray, Hopkins and Rondale Moore are all questionable vs Carolina. Kyler returned to practice Friday but recent reports are that it’s unlikely he plays. Expect the team to play it safe, making sure their stars are healthy for the final stretch of the season.

Justin Pugh was ruled out, which means Sean Harlow will likely start at LG. Harlow quietly played well last week vs SF after Pugh went down in the first drive.

Key Matchups when AZ’s on Offense

OTs DJ Humphries and Kelvin Beachum will have their hands full against Panthers pass rush specialists Brian Burns and former Cardinal Haason Reddick. Carolina’s Edges are a big reason why they’re ranked 2nd in passing yards allowed.
Getting James and Eno going in the run game will be important. Especially for Colt McCoy if Kyler can’t suit up.

Coming off Covid, A.J. Green is also likely chomping at the bit to get back. Being on the other end of that devastating ending vs GB and like Kyler, having not played since. Though it won’t be an easy task, he’ll see a lot of A.J. Bouye and Donte Jackson (especially if Hopkins can’t go) and a maybe a little Stephon Gilmore if he plays (listed as questionable).

Key Matchups when AZ’s on Defense

Carolina’s star running back Christian McCaffrey returned to action last week and is looking to improve upon his 100+ yard performance (52 rushing, 54 receiving) against New England. Christian seems to always play well against the Cardinals. Slowing him has to be Vance Joseph’s main focus, especially with backup QB PJ Walker getting the start, AZ should expect a heavy dose of CMac.
Carolina did sign Cam Newton back this week but he’s not expected to play more than a few plays, if at all.

Byron, Marco, and Robert will have their hands full with DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall in the secondary but if they get their heads and hands around they’ll have opportunities for picks today.

Let’s be honest, all the OTs in this game will have their hands full. Taylor Moton has been great at RT for Carolina, not allowing a sack this year, but he’ll see a lot of Markus Golden who’s 9 sacks ranks 3rd in the NFL. At LT we’ll likely see 3rd-year G/T Dennis Daley for CAR which has to be a mouthwatering matchup for Chandler Jones.

In the End

Stopping the run and pressuring the opposing QB will be the keys to the game for both teams. Whoever can pound the rock and protect their backup signal caller best will come out on top in Cardinals vs Panthers.

Cardinals vs Packers: Arizona’s First Primetime Game

Michael Chow-The Republic

The Arizona Cardinals will get their first opportunity to showcase their talent in primetime on national TV tonight in Cardinals vs Packers. The game is at State Farm Stadium with kickoff set for 5:20 AZ time.

Injuries

The Packers are missing star CB Jaire Alexander and now WRs Davante Adams and Allen Lazard this week with COVID, but the Cardinals will be lacking key pieces themselves, in Rodney Hudson and JJ Watt (supposedly for the rest of the year). Hudson’s backup Max Garcia is also questionable, possibly leaving AZ with Sean Harlow to start at Center tonight (can we get Lamont Gaillard back?). Both teams will have their hands full overcoming deficiencies on a short week.

Packers Outlook


For Green Bay, I expect LaFleur to lean on his Aarons. Aaron Rodgers will still be Aaron Rodgers and distribute the ball all over the field. In fact, under Matt LaFleur the Packers are 5-0 without Davante Adams in the lineup. Aaron Jones is also still Aaron Jones. He’s averaging 4.5 ypc this season and slowing him tonight will be key.

On the other side of the ball, Packers will have their hands full with arguably the best group of pass catchers in the league. Even without Jaire, their defense has been impressive ranking 7th in yards and points allowed. Creating pressure to force turnovers will likely be necessary for GB’s defense to slow Kyler Murray.

Cardinals Outlook

 
For Arizona, they’ll need young DL to step up and fill the void of JJ Watt. The development of Zach Allen, Rashard Lawrence, and Leki Fotu will be important for this team’s success tonight and going forward for the rest of this year. DL Jordan Phillips also needs to stay healthy and continue to make an impact especially in the run game. And although Watt will be missed on the field, his presence will still be felt in the locker room and on the sideline as Coach Watt.

“The Trees”, young LBs Zay and Zaven will need to be disciplined in their run lanes and constantly aware of Jones out of the backfield. Cardinals need to stop the run first and foremost, and then make sure Rodgers doesn’t have all day to throw. On the offensive side, kind of like the defensive side, AZ needs to continue what they’ve done all year. The Packers are 6th in passing yards allowed but 22nd in rushing. And many probably don’t know it, but even without Kyler running as much this year the Cardinals are still a Top 5 rushing team.

Overall


The run game will be crucial for both teams, and how well they run will affect how effective their play-action shots will be. Whoever runs the ball better, will likely throw the ball better, and whoever throws the ball better will likely win the game.

Establishing the run on offense, and stopping Aaron Jones on defense will be keys. Tonight will be an opportunity for Kliff and the Cardinals to show the rest of the league that they really are contenders this year. What are your keys to tonight’s game? Give us your thoughts on Twitter @Cardinals_ATB.

Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

Week 8 NFL Power Rankings
Ja’Marr Chase speeds past Tavon Young – The Athletic

The Week 8 NFL Power Rankings are a fickle mistress. Just when you think you have things figured out, the Ravens get blown out by the Bengals in Baltimore and the Falcons finally hold onto a lead. Everything you know is wrong, so let’s dive into some more things that are going to be wrong next week! Right now, this is how the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings landscape looks heading into Week 8.

32. Detroit Lions (0-7)

Last Week: 32

Looks like we’re going to go back to the “yeah, but they played them really hard!!!” narrative in Detroit this week. Look, I respect Dan Campbell for what he’s trying to do with the Lions. It was an awful situation no one wanted, which is part of the reason Campbell was the best option for their vacant head coach position. But, still, I’m done giving the Lions the benefit of the doubt for losing close games. The fact of the matter is the season is almost half over and they still haven’t won a game. I’ll think about letting them out of time-out when they actually get a win.

31. Houston Texans (1-6)

Last Week: 30

Remember after Week 2 and we all thought the Texans were way better than we all thought they would be? They handily beat the Jacksonville Jaguars then traveled to Cleveland and gave the Browns a run for their money? Yeah. All that optimism is gone. Four of the Texans’ last five games haven’t been competitive, and this 31-5 loss to Arizona was a special kind of non-competitive. The kind of non-competitive that has literally never been accomplished before in NFL history. 

30. Miami Dolphins (1-6)

Last Week: 29

How much lower can things get for Miami in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings? The disappointment for a team many thought was headed in the right direction is immense. The story all week has been rumors of the potential blockbuster trade for disgruntled Texans’ quarterback Desean Watson. But would that actually help? Tua Tagovailoa threw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 80 percent of his passes. Yeah he threw two ugly picks in Falcons territory. But, he also brought the Dolphins back down the field and gave them a lead with 2:33 left in the game. Watson won’t save this team, and losing all those draft picks will probably set them back for years. Actually, if I was Watson, I’d refuse to play there too.

29. New York Jets (1-6)

Last Week: 27

Under most circumstances, getting blown out 54-13 by a team with a losing record would be worthy of a steeper drop than this. Luckily for the Jets, the bottom three teams look even worse than they do after this week. Although, Zach Wilson heard a pop in his knee in the second quarter. Now, every Jets fan in the country is in purgatory. If Wilson misses significant time, it might be time to embrace the tank in Jersey B.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)

Last week: 31

After their 20-game losing streak, the Jacksonville Jaguars have now gone two whole weeks without a loss! I’m kidding. The Jags barely beat the lowly Dolphins last week and didn’t play at all this week. But, there has been plenty of turmoil going on among the NFL’s worst teams this week. So, the Jaguars come out looking slightly less awful in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings than they did a few weeks ago. Now that the national attention is off their dysfunction, can they refocus and stay out of the basement?

27. New York Giants (2-5)

Last Week: 28

Daniel Jones had an ‘ok’ day as a passer this week (23/33, 203 yards, one TD). He didn’t make any major mistakes, which is progress. He also made one of the coolest catches you’ll see all season.

I’m not here to tell you beating the crap out of a Panthers team that has completely collapsed over the last month is praiseworthy. It’s a nice feel-good win for the Giants. But, it was one of the least impressive blowout wins I’ve ever seen. Keep grinding, Giants. There’s potential there, though I’m not sure you’ll find it many more times this season.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (2-5)

Last Week: 24

Poor Jalen Hurts. He’s trying so hard to give Philadelphia something to root for. He started to do just that after the Eagles’ first drive finding Kenneth Gainwell for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t get anything going again until they were already down 30-7 in the fourth quarter. Like last week, Hurts engineered a pair of touchdown drives late in the game but couldn’t make it happen on their last possession. Even if he had, it might have been too late. But, it certainly would have been a fascinating ending.

25. Washington Football Team (2-5)

Last Week: 25

For most of the first half, it looked like Washington had a chance to pull off a miracle. They had a 42-yard field goal that would have given them the lead, blocked in the second quarter. Then, they blocked one of their own, but couldn’t capitalize. A Taylor Heinicke sack-fumble after the first drive of the second half began a series of unfortunate events. Eventually, it resulted in a 24-7 deficit well into the fourth quarter. I don’t see this loss as confirming anything we didn’t already know about Washington, so at No. 25 they stay this week.

24. Denver Broncos (3-4)

Last Week: 22

After such a promising start, the Broncos are now losers of four in a row. This week, it came against Case Keenum, D’Ernest Johnson, and Johnny Stanton. Who is Johnny Stanton you ask? He’s the Browns backup fullback of course! I can’t believe you didn’t know that. In seriousness, when the backup fullback is making plays against you, you know it’s time to hit the reset button. Something is critically wrong in Denver. It might not be long before they find themselves in the company of those bottom-feeder teams they feasted on in the first three weeks.

23. Atlanta Falcons (3-3)

Last Week: 26

Way to go, Falcons! You finally didn’t Falcon up a huge lead! They lead 20-7 with 20 minutes left in the game. But, in typical Atlanta fashion, they let the opposing team back into the game. In fact, they actually lost the lead near the end of the fourth quarter. Luckily, the Dolphins are awful. Matt Ryan drove the Falcons back down the field to set up an easy 36-yard game winner for Younghoe Koo. Suddenly, the Falcons are 3-3 and knocking on the door of the playoff race. 

22. Seattle Seahawks (2-5)

Last Week: 17

This Seattle Seahawks team is just hopeless without Russell Wilson. It seems like every week Geno Smith has an opportunity to go win the game at the end due to the relative incompetence of their opponent. He’s turned the ball over every single time, whether it’s an INT, a fumble, or a super inaccurate throw to DK Metcalf after taking back-to-back crippling sacks. This team still has a few more weeks before Russ comes back. At this point, I’m not sure even he can save their season.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)

Last Week: 21

The Pittsburgh Steelers did not play a game this week. They’re back to being alone in the AFC North basement after the Browns got back to their winning ways this week. But, they get those same injury-riddled Browns in Cleveland this coming week. Win, and your season is back on track. Lose, and you’re still stuck in no-man’s land.

20. Chicago Bears (3-4)

Last Week: 19

I have no idea what to make of this Bears team. One week they look legit, beating a very good Cincinnati Bengals team, then they let Justin Fields be sacked nine times against the Browns. Then, they put together two solid wins against the Lions and Raiders. They even did decently against the Packers last week, even though Aaron Rodgers confirmed he still owns them. This week was just a complete rejection of all the progress they’ve made. Justin Fields looks broken and I’m not sure Matt Nagy can put him back together.

19. Indianapolis Colts (3-4)

Last Week: 23

I expected a little more out of a Colts team that took the Ravens so close last week. Yeah, they won, but it was about as ugly a win as you could have. The Colts benefited from four extremely well timed turnovers. They gave it away a few times themselves and seemed only capable of actually scoring any points following a big turnover. This game probably would have looked more like a high scoring baseball game at the end if it hadn’t been for the turnovers.

You’re telling me this was the best you could do for SNF, NFL??? No, it’s ok guys. We don’t need to flex the Bengals-Ravens battle for first place in the division and conference. Everyone is going to love the snooze fest between the two most boring teams in the NFL! Still, they won and there was a ton of movement in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings, so they benefit.

18. Carolina Panthers (3-4)

Last Week: 14

Sam Darnold… just… holy crap man. I don’t think anyone disputes the Jets made him worse. But did they break him beyond repair? He was awful today. Darnold didn’t throw a single pass longer than 10 yards until the second half. He gave up a safety  at the beginning of the second quarter with an unnecessary intentional grounding. He took his third sack of the day on the final play of the third quarter and the Panthers benched him for PJ Walker. Walker didn’t fare much better, but at least we learned the Sam Darnold renaissance was fool’s gold.

17. San Francisco 49ers (2-4)

Last Week: 16

Welp. Last week I talked about this team flipping their 2-3 start to 4-3 taking advantage of an easy couple of games. You can’t do that when you turn the ball over four times, which is what the 49ers did against the Colts this week. Jimmy Garoppolo alone accounted for three of those turnovers. All three of them came in the second half. Deebo Samuel’s came in the first, but it helped spark a Colts team that looked offensively inept through most of the contest. Without those turnovers, San Francisco probably grinds away a low scoring 18-7 victory and we basically learn nothing about either team. But, the 49ers refused to win this one the Colts repeatedly tried to hand them.

16. New England Patriots (3-4)

Last Week: 20

Tom Brady might be moved on to his new home in Tampa Bay. But, the Patriots’ absolute dominance over the Jets from that era still lives on. New England still hasn’t lost to Jersey B since a surprise overtime loss in 2015, and they haven’t lost to them in regulation since Mark Sanchez won that inexplicable playoff game in January of 2011. Mac Jones was clinical and Damien Harris rushed for over 100 yards. The Patriots are not dead yet.

15. New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Last Week: 15

Two wins in a row for the New Orleans Saints plus a useful bye week has a generally positive feeling sweeping through Nawlins. Though, they really lucked out that Geno Smith was the opposing quarterback. Winston was sloppy. His fumbled snap turned touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara that gave the Saints their first lead was a microcosm of their entire season. Yeah, it looked like a pretty janky way to score. But they still scored, dammit. I still have no idea if this Saints team is good or not. So, just outside of the playoff teams they remain in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings.

14. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2)

Last Week: 18

I thought the Raiders were dead in the water after the Jon Gruden debacle. This was a sloppy team that I felt deserved ‘pretender’ status as much as the Broncos and Panthers. Then, they lost their head coach. How could they possibly survive that? Well, after two ‘get right’ games against the Broncos and Eagles, the Raiders are suddenly 5-2 and right back in the playoff discussion. Was Jon Gruden that bad of a head coach? Has their soft schedule the last couple of weeks inflated their rebound? It could be a while before we find out as they’re on bye next week and play the Giants the week after their upcoming bye. 

13. Minnesota Vikings (3-3)

Last Week: 13

In the coming weeks, the true nature of the Minnesota Vikings is going to be revealed. They play the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, and Packers each of the next four weeks. The way this team has played, you could just as easily see them pulling off a respectable numbers of wins as getting totally blown out in every game. If I had to bet, they’ll probably split those games 2-2. Because of course they will. For now, they’re still a playoff team in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings based on what we’ve seen so far.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)

Last Week: 9

Is having the 3-4 Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the 5-2 Las Vegas Raiders disrespectful? Probably. That’s what happens when reigning back-to-back AFC Champions flash big-game potential at points in the season, even though they’re putting up their fair share of stinkers too. This was Kansas City’s worst game of the season, and I’m starting to think it might not get better in a timely manner. Hence, nearly falling out of the playoff contenders in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings. They’ll probably beat up on the lowly Giants this coming week and lose to the Packers. Then they go to Las Vegas. We’ll find out a lot about where the Chiefs are at that point.

11. Cleveland Browns (4-3)

Last Week: 11

Ouch. That’s the battle cry of the Cleveland Browns right now. Luckily, Baker Mayfield is expected to come back at some point this season. D’Ernest Johnson looks good enough to hold the fort down until Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt can come back. This was an ugly win against the Broncos, but this was also an ugly version of the Browns. Kevin Stefanski proved he is a hell of a coach. Watch out for this Browns team once they’re healthy.

10. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

Last Week: 6

Lamar giveth, Lamar taketh away. The Ravens are far too unpredictable this year to really get behind. They should be 4-3 right now because of an uncalled delay of game against the Lions. They fooled me last week when they put a hurting on an overmatched Chargers team. They’re still a top-10 team based on what they’ve done this season. But, getting dominated like that at home makes me think this Ravens team doesn’t have the consistency to overcome their big game problems.

9. Tennessee Titans (5-2)

Last Week: 12

Derrick Henry, man. Not only is he a force in the ground game, but apparently he can throw for touchdowns too! He was held relatively in check as a rusher this week (3.0 YPC, 0 TDs). But, when he puts together cool highlights like that in a 27-3 beatdown against the reigning AFC champs, you have to take notice. The Titans are as hot as anyone in the NFL right now so watch out.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Last Week: 8

The Chargers are coming off their bye this week to prepare for a New England Patriots team coming off a massive blowout win. They can right the ship after the debacle against the Ravens last week with a win. But, a loss will raise a LOT of questions about whether this team is a true Super Bowl contender right now.

7. Green Bay Packers (6-1)

Last Week: 7

It was a bit of a slow start for the Packers this week. Were it not for TJ Slaton’s blocked kick, the Packers would have been trailing the Football Team at one point in the first half. But, the Packers hit the gas in the second half and wound up with a fairly convincing 24-10 victory. I won’t award any brownie points for that one, but 6-1 is 6-1.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)

Last Week: 10

You could make the argument that the Bengals could be 6-1 right now if Evan McPherson had made either of his missed field goals against the Packers. Hell, you could make the argument they could be 7-0 with a bit better luck at the end with the Bears. ‘What ifs’ won’t get you anywhere in the NFL, but beating the snot out of a division opponent on the road absolutely will. After winning only six games the past two years combined, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking like fringe Super Bowl contenders in 2021.

5. Los Angeles Rams (6-1)

Last Week: 5

Matthew Stafford put together a very good performance against his old team. Even though it cost two first round picks and a third, it’s looking like that Stafford-Goff trade in the offseason was a great idea. I haven’t forgotten the Rams struggled to put the Lions away all game. But, they did take the lead in the fourth quarter and sealed it with two interceptions on their former No. 1 overall pick. Like I said with the Packers, 6-1 is 6-1.

4. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

Last Week: 4

The Cowboys were on bye this week and still managed to separate even further from the rest of the NFC East. There’s still 11 games left to play, but it already feels like this division is wrapped up. The Cowboys might be tested a little next week in Minnesota, but after that it could be a while before they have a realistic chance to slip up.

3. Buffalo Bills (4-2)

Last Week: 3

The Bills get a week of rest to process their loss to the Titans, who look even better after this week. Their next three games? Dolphins, Jags, Jets. I’d be shocked if they aren’t 7-2 when they get ready to host the up-and-down Colts in Week 11.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1)

Last Week: 2

Chris Godwin had a dominant day against Chicago with 111 yards on 8 catches and a touchdown. Brady’s other three touchdown passes went to Mike Evans, although Evans wasn’t as electric with the ball in his hands this week. The Bucs forced six turnovers on a Bears team that looked totally lost. Could #8 be in the future for Tom Brady?

1. Arizona Cardinals (6-0)

Last Week: 1

The Arizona Cardinals achieved Scorigami this week against the Houston Texans. For those who don’t know, it means their 31-5 final score had never been done before in NFL history. How did they get there? Well, they allowed the Texans to go up 5-0 with a field goal and a safety in the first quarter. But, it was all Arizona after that after Kyler Murray led the Cardinals to four touchdowns and a field goal the rest of the game.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

NFL Power rankings Week 7
Emilee Chinn, Getty Images

The NFL Power Rankings Week 7 are seeing quite a bit of movement. Basement teams are shuffling around, the top 10 is shuffling around, and we even have a new No. 1 this week! The Detroit Lions had the biggest fall this week all the way down to the bottom spot in the NFL. The Las Vegas Raiders saw the biggest climb after overcoming their head coach drama to put away the struggling Broncos.

32. Detroit Lions (0-6)

Last Week: 29

The bottom fell out. The Detroit Lions are the last winless team in the NFL and they got there in absolutely embarrassing fashion this week. They were completely shut out in their own home stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals. That is, until the Bengals started playing prevent defense and allowed the Lions to march down the field and put 11 garbage time points up against their backups. Dan Campbell is no longer crying for his players. Now he’s just disappointed in them. That hurts worse, and that’s why they’re now at the bottom of the NFL Power Rankings.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)

Last week: 32

The Jacksonville Jaguars finally snapped their 20-game losing streak. It figures it would happen in London, their second home, where they’ve played more than any other team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still worried about how this locker room feels about Urban Meyer. But, for this week, they got the job done and earned a bit of credit on the NFL Power Rankings.

30. Houston Texans (1-5)

Last Week: 31

Trust me, I don’t feel good elevating the Houston Texans a spot after being blown out 31-3 by a team that came in with the same record as them. Unfortunately, that’s how things go sometimes when you’re down this deep in the Power Rankings. Sometimes you get dropped for looking awful, and sometimes the ineptitude of your peers makes you look slightly better.

29. Miami Dolphins (1-5)

Last Week: 27

Currently, I don’t believe the Miami Dolphins are a fundamentally more flawed team than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Miami’s quarterback situation is a mess and their defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed. But, Brian Flores still has to be a better coach than Urban Meyer, right? Flores’ fall from grace has been spectacular. But, at least his players still respect him. I think.

28. New York Giants (1-5)

Last Week: 28

Hey. They had a lead through the end of the first quarter. That’s progress right? Nevermind the fact that they let the Rams score 38 unanswered points after a pretty good start. I’m joking, of course. They’ve been absolutely spanked both of the last two weeks. You thought they were making progress when they upset the Saints after two close losses. But, it’s starting to feel a bit hopeless in Jersey.

27. New York Jets (1-4)

Last Week: 30

Sometimes one of the best things you can do is nothing. That’s what the Jets did this week on their bye week. In the process, they capitalized on an opportunity to not embarrass themselves, as they’ve done quite a few times this season. Luckily for them, a bunch of their peers on this end of the NFL Power Rankings had really bad weeks. So, the Jets end up with a large climb due to simply not looking worse than teams like the Dolphins, Texans, and Lions.

26. Atlanta Falcons (2-3)

Last Week: 26

The Falcons don’t get quite as lucky as the Jets on their bye week. Unfortunately for them, nobody in their area of the Power Rankings embarrassed themselves as badly as the teams in the bottom five. They’ll have an opportunity to get back to .500 against the lowly Dolphins next week, but for now they stay put.

25. Washington Football Team (2-4)

Last Week: 25

That was an admirable performance by Washington. They bullied Patrick Mahomes and went into halftime with a lead. Unfortunately, Mahomes decided to stand up for himself. Washington allowed the Chiefs to score three touchdowns on three drives after a missed field goal. Taylor Heinicke completed the meltdown with an interception thrown late in the fourth quarter. The game was probably already out of hand at that point, but that sealed it.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4)

Last Week: 23

For a brief time, the Eagles turned a stinker of a Thursday Night Football game into a briefly watchable affair. They weren’t able to finish out the comeback due to a completely dead looking defense on the Buccaneers’ final drive. But, Jalen Hurts looked great on those final three drives.

23. Indianapolis Colts (2-4)

Last Week: 24

After nearly upsetting the Ravens last week, the Colts showed they’re still a dangerous team this week. They did it with a 31-3 drubbing of the struggling Houston Texans. Running back Jonathan Taylor exploded for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He was matched by Carson Wentz in the air, who had a very efficient night. When the Colts play like this, it makes you think they could do something exciting. The problem is, games like this have been few and far between in Indy this year. 

22. Denver Broncos (3-3)

Last Week: 19

RIP to that much talked about 3-0 start. The Broncos have gone from one of the most hyped teams in NFL Power Rankings to a “bad” team. In theory, they had a devastated Raiders team delivered, like lambs, to the slaughter. In reality, the Broncos were completely outclassed by a far more talented Raiders team that looked motivated to overcome their coaching woes.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)

Last Week: 22

I can’t say I’m exactly impressed after the Steelers ground out wins against a hilariously overrated Broncos team and the Geno Smith Seahawks. But, a win is a win, no matter how ugly. And boy, was that an ugly win. The Steelers subjected America to an overtime nobody wanted. They pulled it off in the end, but this Steelers team still has way more questions than answers.

20. New England Patriots (2-4)

Last Week: 20

You have to give it to the Patriots: They played the Cowboys much closer than any other team has since Week 1 when Tom Brady beat them. It seems like ol’ Bill Belichick is inching this team closer and closer to contention every week. But, they had a tough task against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys this week. Still, they had a lead late and almost broke it in overtime. Patriots fans have to feel like they’re right there.

19. Chicago Bears (3-3)

Last Week: 18

As a fan of a team that has been owned by a hall of fame quarterback for the last decade or so, I feel for Bears fans. They won’t stop hearing “I still own you!” all week and possibly all year. They seem like they’re good enough to turn their season around and make the playoffs. But, they did this one to themselves. They’re going to have to get out of their own way if they want to play with the big boys.

18. Las Vegas Raiders (4-2)

Last Week: 21

I did not see that coming. Last week, the Bears were absolutely mauled by the Chicago Bears in the midst of the Jon Gruden fiasco. This week, they managed to put the drama behind them and play mostly flawless football en route to a huge win. It proved they are not pretenders of the same kind as the Broncos. Was it real, or was it an emotional reaction to their awful week? Their next three games are against the Eagles, Giants, and Chiefs. So, they could easily work their way back into the top 14 if they take advantage.

17. Seattle Seahawks (2-4)

Last Week: 15

Thank God Russell Wilson is coming back eventually. They aren’t going to do much winning with Geno Smith at quarterback. He almost brought them back at the end, but it was clearly a struggle to get there. Then, he fumbled the ball away at the critical moment. Just like the interception last week. Is this what Jets fans had to deal with? Poor suckers.

16. San Francisco 49ers (2-3)

Last Week: 17

The 49ers are probably happy that the Seattle Seahawks fell just short of a victory this week. The season is still early, so you could easily see their 2-3 start flip to 4-3 with games against the Colts and Bears coming up. Then again, they could easily plummet in the power rankings if they fail to win those games.

15. New Orleans Saints (3-2)

Last Week: 16

The New Orleans Saints also benefit from Geno Smith’s ineptitude on their bye week. Then again, this is two positive results in a row for the Saints. That seems pretty unsustainable considering their run of form this year. Is that a bad omen for their matchup with the Seattle Seahawks this coming week?

14. Carolina Panthers (3-3)

Last Week: 12

Broncos fans are probably looking at this list thinking I’m an idiot for putting them so low and the Panthers, who also blew a 3-0 start, still in playoff range. Rest assured, if the Panthers put up another bad performance next week, they will be plummeting down these Power Rankings. The difference, however, is the Broncos dominated three awful opponents then got exposed when they played real teams. The Panthers at least beat the Saints and have made each of their losses interesting. Sam Darnold is starting to fall back down to earth, but they still managed to force overtime against the Vikings. They didn’t even get the ball in overtime, but you feel like they might have won the game if their offense got the ball first.

13. Minnesota Vikings (3-3)

Last Week: 14

The Vikings’ luck in their 1-3 start was absolutely brutal. But, two solid wins since have brought them back to .500. Their schedule is absolutely brutal the next four weeks as they play the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, and Packers. But, they’ve proven they can hang with anyone. If they can even go 2-2 in that stretch, you have to feel good about their playoff chances.

12. Tennessee Titans (3-2)

Last Week: 13

The Titans beat the team that I considered to be the most dangerous in football, so you can’t deny they look like a bona fide playoff team. Their offense is still heavily reliant on Derrick Henry continuing to be an absolute force. But, Ryan Tannehill came up clutch down the stretch too. He kept the Titans driving late in the game, allowing Derrick Henry to save his angry runs for big situations.

11. Cleveland Browns (3-3)

Last Week: 9

The last two weeks haven’t been great for the Browns. You could sort of look past that loss to the Chargers. Herbert’s gonna Herbert, but at least Baker Mayfield and the offense kept up and participated in a wild shootout. This week, Baker Mayfield couldn’t stop turning the ball over and the Browns’ offense simply could not keep up with the Cardinals. The Browns turn around on a short week to host the sputtering Broncos before getting 10 days of rest to host the Steelers. Hopefully that’s enough to shake off a rocky couple of weeks, because they need it.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)

Last Week: 11

The Cincinnati Bengals are a top-10 team in the NFL through six weeks, just like we all expected. Ok but seriously, did anyone see this coming? Granted, it’s not like the Steelers, Jaguars, and Lions are exactly difficult outs. But, they’ve been beating the teams they’re supposed to beat and that’s not nothing. Hell, they would have beaten the Packers if one of those field goals went in. They proved themselves this week by dismantling the Lions. Maybe not as efficiently as you’d hope, but it was still a blowout.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)

Last Week: 10

I was ready to move the Chiefs out of the top 14 after halftime. The Chiefs were sloppy in that first half and looked to be confirming the doubts of many with their play. But, they turned things around in the second half to the tune of a 21-0 shutout on the road. This is why I never moved the Chiefs out of the top 10. Because they’re still capable of stuff like this.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Last Week: 6

That was a bad loss. The Los Angeles Chargers’ vaunted offense was completely shut out in the second half and most of the first half. The missed extra point on their lone touchdown near the end of the second quarter perfectly encapsulated a day where almost nothing went right for the Chargers. The Chargers have had some close calls this year against less-than-stellar competition. But, this is also the same team that dropped 47 points on the Cleveland Browns last week. So, I’m not ready to demote them to pretenders in the NFL Power Rankings just yet. We’ll see how they respond to this setback.

7. Green Bay Packers (5-1)

Last Week: 7

Do your victory lap, Aaron Rodgers. When you’re 22-5 against an opponent, I think you have every right to claim you own them. For the most part, the Packers played pretty average football against the Chicago Bears. They held Justin Fields under 200 yards passing, but they allowed 140 yards on the ground. However, Mason Crosby hit all of his kicks and Aaron Rodgers personally scored all three of the Packers’ touchdowns against a Bears team that looked like it was turning a corner.

6. Baltimore Ravens (5-1)

Last Week: 8

How many times is Lamar Jackson going to overcome being super reckless with the football and end up looking good by the end of it? He had a bad day (167 yards passing, one touchdown, two interceptions). The Ravens STILL blew out a Chargers team many consider to be dark horse Super Bowl contenders. When they’re firing on all cylinders like this, Lamar can afford to be less than perfect. The Ravens look as tough as anybody right now despite some close games against bad teams earlier in the year.

5. Los Angeles Rams (5-1)

Last Week: 5

The Rams went into New Jersey to face off against a Giants team missing all of their legitimate offensive weapons. I can’t say this is the most legitimizing win of all time, considering many already consider the Rams to be Super Bowl contenders. But, they got the job done against an obviously inferior opponent and they absolutely deserve credit for that. There’s not much room to move around this high in the power rankings. Especially, when everyone else up here also won their games. But, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald both showed exactly why many value them so highly.

4. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

Last Week: 4

It was getting tense there for a minute in Foxborough. The Cowboys came in against a below average Patriots and almost fell victim to what could be argued as a trap game and a plunge in the NFL Power Rankings. But, Dak was electrifying as ever. He overcame a boneheaded interception where he tried to force a touchdown pass into really tight coverage to wind up throwing for 445 yards and three touchdowns. 

3. Buffalo Bills (4-2)

Last Week: 1

Don’t feel bad, Buffalo. Everyone struggles against Derrick Henry. The Bills ended their run of dominance this week that had me claiming them as the best team in football despite the Week 1 loss. Josh Allen tried his hardest with 379 yards of total offense, three touchdowns, and only one interception. The problem is, his bowling ball style of scrambling couldn’t get the job done on a questionable 4th and one call. I get the Bills were trying to go for the win, but you could have lived to see overtime. I imagine they’ll take their frustrations out on the Dolphins after their bye week. But, another stumble and they could see a sharp fall in the NFL Power Rankings.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-1)

Last Week: 3

If you turned the Thursday Night Football game after halftime, no one could blame you. The Bucs were dominating the Eagles through the first half after the Eagles’ first drive. If you kept watching, you saw the Bucs somehow let the Eagles back into the game, even after extending their lead to 28-7 in the third quarter. A missed Eagles field goal takes away from just how close the Eagles were to breaking through. But, the Bucs got their act together on the final drive and ran the clock out. Overall, it was a pretty solid win that shouldn’t have been a game.

1. Arizona Cardinals (6-0)

Last Week: 2

The Arizona Cardinals continued to make their case as the best team in the NFL Power Rankings as they dominated the Cleveland Browns from start to finish. A second quarter rally by the Browns gave them a fighting chance, but the Cardinals completely shut the door in the second half. Coffin nails were arguably achieved late in the third quarter when Deandre Hopkins reeled in a touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to make it 30-14. But, all hope was extinguished when AJ Green went in the endzone against his familiar foe with just under five minutes left in the game.

Arizona Cardinals: Undefeated Underdogs

Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals Credit: @derrickspencer

The Cardinals have a tough task ahead. As everyone knows, Arizona will be missing Chandler Jones, Rodney Hudson, Zach Allen, HC Kliff Kingsbury and QB Coach Cam Turner. But the Browns aren’t without their fair share of obstacles to overcome either. RB Nick Chubb was ruled out a couple days ago. Luckily for them they have a stud right behind him in Kareem Hunt. But now LT Jedrick Wills and RT Jack Conklin have also been ruled out. And according to the Browns official depth chart, rookie James Hudson is the backup LT and there’s no backup listed at RT. So Cleveland will likely have to play some guys out of position on the OL today. Expect interim HC Vance Joseph to dial up lots of pressure on the defensive side to take advantage.

Being without our Head Coach and playcaller seemingly gives AZ an immediate disadvantage. But on the flip side, someone else calling plays could make the offense a bit unpredictable today. With Kugler being the run game coordinator, we may see an uptick in runs, but who knows. Assistant WR coach Spencer Whipple will also be helping Kugler call plays.

The Browns are 1st in the NFL in rushing with 187 yards per game and the Cardinals are 8th with 128/game. Stopping the run will be key for both teams but in the end, whoever can protect their young QB the best, may be the team who wins. Give us your keys to today’s game @Cardinals_ATB on Twitter.