The Cardiac Cards, indeed.
Just when nearly all hope was lost, the Cardinals scraped together a win to pull their season out of the gutter.
The team is still, amazingly, in the playoff picture and while they have a difficult road ahead, a game against Miami next week and a trip to a Earl Thomas-less Seahawks team seems less daunting in a way.
With that, here are the Week 14 Power Rankings:
1) Dallas Cowboys (11-1) - What's crazy is how Ezekiel Elliot is having one of the most successful rookie rushing seasons we've ever seen and he's STILL trailing David Johnson in total yards. Cowboys the first team in the playoffs.
2) Oakland Raiders (10-2) - I'm clearly not crazy putting the Raiders in this #2 spot last week and they stay there. This team is firing on all cylinders and imagine if they could get Aldon Smith back in time for the postseason?
3) New England Patriots (10-2) - The Patriots really are gonna miss Gronk. Martellus Bennett hasn't been able to replicate his production but the team seems to be improving defensively as Eric Rowe gets more snaps outside and Logan Ryan moves to the slot. People don't talk enough about New England's secondary. Imagine how deadly this team would look if they'd kept Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins (then again, Belichick could probably win games with a high school team if necessary)
4) Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) The Chiefs went on a total rout this weekend of an Atlanta team that controlled the majority of the Cardinals game last week, and are really rolling on offense and defense now with Justin Houston back. I don't know if Alex Smith can get KC to the big dance ahead of Oakland and New England, but his 2011 season and 2012 postseason shows he might just have those chops.
5) Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) - The injury to Earl Thomas was just awful and it's never good to see one of the greats go down, but Seattle might have the talent on offense and defense to overcome this challenge. The Seahawks seem unstoppable in the run game, ramming the ball down Carolina's throat and making the #2 ranked run defense look like swiss cheese before a Thomas Rawls concussion. The Seahawks have never struggled to run the ball consistently it seems, no matter their O-Line. They're basically the Patriots of the AFC, in a lot of ways.
6) Detroit Lions (8-4) The Lions actually won their first game in which they ALREADY had a lead going into the 4th quarter. Talk about small miracles. Matthew Stafford is putting up as good an MVP candidate argument as guys like Derek Carr, and the Lions are in control of their division. Is it possible that it ends up being...."their year" in place of another lovable loser team in the Cardinals?
7) New York Giants (8-4) The Steelers are a good team. So are the Giants, but they didn't look it this last week as Pittsburgh threw and ran the ball all over their defense and the team couldn't generate any offense. This team will only get as far as Eli Manning takes them and frankly, that might not be that far without a run game. But their pass rush will keep them as contenders.
8) Denver Broncos (8-4) Paxton Lynch played so poorly this week that he made Trevor Siemian look like the Cardinals getting Carson Palmer back over Drew Stanton. Not a great sign but it's a learning curve especially for Lynch and it's lucky that they only played the Jags this week.
9) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) While the Steelers seem to always be up and down over the course of the least few seasons, they always find a way to get into the playoffs and make noise in the end. They did that this week against the Giants and if this team gets healthier with Big Ben having both Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell....watch out.
10) Atlanta Falcons (7-5) The Falcons made Alex Smith look elite this week, which shouldn't be a surprise entering a game with no Trufant or Clayborn, but somehow they can't seem to stay consistent week in and week out to appear like a true contender. Their talent, however, and weapons will keep them likely in the top ten all season long.
And the rest:
11) Baltimore Ravens (7-5)
12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
13) Washington Redskins (6-5-1)
14) Miami Dolphins (7-5)
15) Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
16) Buffalo Bills (6-6)
17) Tennessee Titans (6-6)
18) Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
19) Houston Texans (6-6)
20) Green Bay Packers (6-6)
21) Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) The tie and no 7th loss moves the Cardinals back up into the 20's, but it's deserved. Great performances on offense, a dominant pass rush when it was needed and Arizona moves back up. The concerns for this team are still plenty: not enough coverage with Mathieu banged up, a knack for drops and a missed field goal, but this Arizona team felt like the Cardinals of 2015. Hopefully, they keep this mentality moving forward.
On another note, David Johnson has a chance to do something no running back has ever done before, which is quite amazing in of itself.
22) Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
23) San Diego Chargers (5-7)
24) New Orleans Saints (5-7)
25) Carolina Panthers (4-8)
26) Los Angeles Rams (4-8)
27) Cincinnati Bengals (3-8-1)
28) New York Jets (3-9)
29) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
30) Chicago Bears (3-9) I see you, Matt Barkley.
31) San Francisco 49ers (1-11)
What do you think? Did I give the Chiefs too much credit? Too high on the Panthers and Redskins? Should the Patriots still deserve to be number one? Sound off in the comments section!
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