Power Rankings: No. 21 Arizona Cardinals

A weekly examination of the Cardinals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 26 | Last week: 19 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Talk about a defense carrying a team. The Cardinals gave NFC West rival San Francisco a fight until the fourth quarter and showed they were capable of beating the 49ers. It was a worthy battle because the Cards dropped just two spots in the Power Rankings. But losing happens when a team shoots itself in the foot by throwing two interceptions and fumbling twice in the second half, both on drives that could have led to a victory.

The Cardinals are showing signs of life, especially on offense, after a head-scratching start. Halftime adjustments are becoming this team’s signature, with coach Bruce Arians opting for the run game after the break. It worked against San Francisco in the third quarter, but because of the offense’s faulty hands, the defense was on the field way too long and began to play tired and undisciplined football. Everyone’s starting to see the progress, and it’s just a matter of time before the offense catches up to the defense. It could happen soon with two of Arizona’s next three opponents ranked lower than it. Then the Cards could start flying up the Power Rankings.