A weekly examination of the Cardinals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 26 | Last week: 17 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
This is a tough crowd. The Arizona Cardinals moved up one spot in this week’s Power Rankings to 16th after surviving a late-game rally by the Houston Texans. If the Cardinals had held on to the 10-point margin they had before running back Rashard Mendenhall fumbled late in the fourth -- which led to a Texans touchdown -- they might have been higher. But what’s done is done.
The teams ranked above the Cardinals are all viable contenders, and it says a lot that Arizona is among that group with seven weeks left in the season. Arizona is finally finding its way on offense. In a stretch of winnable games, the Cardinals have been a more complete offense, using their running game to keep defenses honest, which has given the offensive line more confidence and allowed quarterback Carson Palmer time to throw. The Cardinals have a few issues on offense, such as ball security and red zone and third-down efficiency, but if they can correct them, Arizona could keep on winning and climbing up the rankings.