Saturday, November 6, 2021

Arizona Cardinals Week 9 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Arizona Cardinals rank in terms of average, best and worst:

  • Average ranking: 3.0 (3rd)
  • Best ranking: 2nd (ESPN)
  • Worst ranking: 4th (CBS Sports)

Below you will find a Week 9 roundup for the Cardinals in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 2

Biggest Achilles' heel: Run defense

As the world saw Thursday night, when the Packers ran for 151 yards, if a team can eat the clock on the ground, the Cardinals become vulnerable. Their run defense has been suspect throughout the season, giving up an average of 120.1 yards per game (ranking 20th in the NFL) and 4.88 yards per carry (31st). Arizona has given up more than 100 rushing yards in five of its eight games. Running against Arizona has become a team's best defense against quarterback Kyler Murray, who sits on the sideline as teams pound the ground for yards and clock. -- Josh Weinfuss -- Rank: 3

Week 8 was a difficult one for the Cardinals: They fell from the ranks of the unbeaten in a frustrating prime-time loss to the shorthanded Packers, then watched their franchise star reportedly exit State Farm Stadium in a walking boot. The longer runway ahead of their next game will obviously help Kyler Murray's chances of being ready for Sunday's key division matchup against the 49ers, but you wonder if Arizona took notice of the more cautious path of the Cowboys, who opted to give Dak Prescott extra time to heal his calf injury. Being careful with Murray in November could be the key to success in January.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 4

The health of Kyler Murray bears watching after he got banged up last week. The run defense has to be better going forward.

USA Today -- Rank: 3

The '72 Dolphins are safe ... and so, too, might some current teams be given Arizona has likely lost DE J.J. Watt (shoulder) and might not have the best version of Murray (ankle) or WR DeAndre Hopkins, whose hamstring limited him to 13 snaps in Week 8, for some time.

The Athletic -- Rank: 3

How's the head coach? This is a major year for Kliff Kingsbury, both as a play caller and a head coach, and so far he's passing the test. While the Cardinals' offense is still largely built around Kyler Murray's creativity and escapability, Kingsbury has designed more explosive runs and a better downfield passing game that should serve Arizona well if its QB is slowed by his sore ankle.

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