The Arizona Cardinals suffered a very disappointing end to their season in the NFC Championship Game. It is almost as if people believe they will fall apart despite being the second best team in the NFC. But some power rankings -- way too early power rankings -- still believe in the Cardinals.
ESPN put together some power rankings using a 21-person panel. The results? Arizona is still a top-5 team. They come in at number four behind the Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
2015 record: 13-3
Voting results: 580 points
Why they're here: Despite a disappointing crash in the NFC Championship, the Cardinals will return in 2016 with one of the NFL's deepest rosters. They'll also see the return of Tyrann Mathieu. Bruce Arians hasn't won fewer than 10 games since he arrived three years ago, and despite his shaky postseason the team is 19-3 when Carson Palmer starts over the past two seasons.
What could change: Palmer is 36, lacks mobility and the Cardinals always appear an injury at QB away from disaster. Larry Fitzgerald turns 33 in August and Calais Campbell turns 30 days later. Age is an issue with linchpin players. One other big question: Can cornerback Jerraud Powers and safety Rashad Johnson be retained?
Fans will have higher expectations of the team. The organization believes it is in its championship window. And the fact they have a strong core of players, including Carson Palmer, playing at a high level, means they should continue to contend. But with a team like Seattle with a young star quarterback, the Cardinals will always lag behind them in any offseason poll.
If fourth a fair ranking or should they be getting more or less respect?