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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Arizona Cardinals

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:

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Cardinals in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 13

Person on the hot seat: Coach Kliff Kingsbury

This is a make-or-break season for Kingsbury. Arizona has made steady improvement the past two seasons, going from three wins to five in 2019 -- Kingsbury's first season -- and from five to eight last season. But Arizona didn't make the playoffs last season for the fifth straight year, going into a tailspin after starting 5-2, thanks in part to an injury to quarterback Kyler Murray. If Arizona doesn't make the playoffs in 2021 for any reason besides major injuries, it is hard to think that Kingsbury will be the coach in 2022. -- Josh Weinfuss

NFL.com -- Rank: 18

Malcolm Butler was placed on the reserve/retired list last week, a surprise move that leaves a worrisome void in the secondary. The Cardinals thought they had found their replacement for Patrick Peterson when they signed Butler to a one-year deal, but the team now might have to throw rookie Marco Wilson directly into the fire against the Titans in Week 1. The Cardinals have promise on defense -- especially in the middle with linebackers Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins -- but you get the feeling Kyler Murray might have to carry this team in some shootouts to make Arizona a playoff team.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 9

They've added some nice veteran pieces in J.J. Watt and A.J. Green, showing it's time to make a real playoff push. This is a big season for coach Kliff Kingsbury.

USA Today -- Rank: 21

The abrupt, mysterious retirement of CB Malcolm Butler weakens what was already a shaky pass defense -- one now even more reliant on J.J. Watt and Chandler Jones to turf opposing quarterbacks.

The Athletic -- Rank: 14

Why they're ranked here: Our panel was all over the map with the Cardinals, one of the most volatile teams in the voting process, so it's fitting they ended up in the middle. One writer had the Cardinals at No. 7. Another had them at No. 25. That aptly represents the number of directions this season could go for Arizona. It's conceivable that with Kyler Murray in his third season, the offense takes a big jump from its No. 14 spot a year ago. Or, in a tough division, it's also conceivable the Cardinals get beat up by three good teams and the offense never puts it together the way the team hoped after trading for DeAndre Hopkins in March 2020.

One big question: Is the offense good enough to end Arizona's five-year playoff drought? Many expected more from the Cardinals than their 25.6 points per game and No. 19 spot in offensive DVOA last season. Murray has the weapons, he just needs to get Arizona over the hump now.

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