NFC West Power Rankings: Week One

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3 – Arizona Cardinals

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palme (3) throws during the first half against the New Orleans Saints at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This is a very different team when Carson Palmer is running the offense. After being completely shut down offensively by the Carolina Panthers with Ryan Lindley running the show in the playoffs last year, the 2015 version of the Cardinals came out strong.

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Palmer completed 19 of his 32 passes, racking up 307 yards and three touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. His three scoring tosses went to three different receivers, none of which were Larry Fitzgerald, although he did reel in six passes for 87 yards. Those are good signs for the passing offense.

The running offense wasn’t half bad either. Andre Ellington gained 69 yards on only 12 carries. Chris Johnson, making his Cardinals’ debut, averaged less than four yards per carry, but did enough to offer a different option than Ellington. Johnson may need to take on a heavier workload in the coming weeks. Ellington was hurt in the fourth quarter, and had to be helped off the field with a PCL injury.

As usual, the Arizona defense was pretty solid. New Orleans, annually one of the more prolific offenses in the game, did rack up 408 total yards on offense, but Arizona only allowed them into the endzone once. They played a “bend, don’t break” style of defense, allowing four field goals in the process.

With Palmer at the helm, that style of defense was good enough for a 31-19 win. After finishing 11-5 last season with a playoff berth on their records, the Cards are off to a good start as they attempt to repeat last season’s successes, but with a better end result.

Next: Number Two