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Power Rankings: Undefeated Texans, Falcons, Cards at the top of the heap


Sometimes I can be so stupid. Cue the jokes.

I mean it. When I played out the NFL season in June and July, I had the Arizona Cardinals winning the NFC West, which led my sanity to be questioned.

One problem: I changed my mind. In my season preview, I picked the San Francisco 49ers to win the division. After seeing the quarterback disaster play out in the preseason, I didn't think it was possible for Arizona to win it.

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What I forgot was the reason why I made my initial pick of Arizona in the first place. Guys like Daryl Washington. Patrick Peterson. Calais Campbell and Sam Acho, young talented defensive players ready for big things.

What we're seeing now is that defense, loaded with talent, leading the Cardinals to a 3-0 record and first place in the division.

The Cardinals look like the 2011 49ers, a defensive team that will do just enough on offense to win games.

Only the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald. Even with so-so quarterback play, he is a difference maker.

Arizona is now third in our CBSSports.com Power Rankings, and don't expect the Cardinals to go anywhere anytime soon. Here's their schedule the next four weeks: Home against Miami, at St. Louis, home against Buffalo and then at Minnesota. That's not exactly tough.

They then play host to the 49ers on Oct. 29, which looks like it will be a huge Monday night game.

The Cardinals have the league's No. 1 scoring defense, 10th overall and are fourth in sacks per pass play. They have an aggressive front that comes after the quarterback, which is something Cardinals coordinator Ray Horton learned in his time with the Steelers.

Arizona does have to get better on offense to be a real factor. They are 31st in total offense and tied for 19th in scoring offense. That isn't good enough, although it might be good enough to win the division.

Why did I change my mind?

Man, I can be dumb sometimes.

Cue the jokes once again.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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