The start of the 2021 NFL regular season is over five months away.
But that won’t stop anybody from making predictions based purely on personnel and coaching changes prior to the draft.
ESPN on Monday released their updated power rankings, which saw the Arizona Cardinals bump up two spots to No. 12.
Despite big free agency signings like J.J. Watt and A.J. Green, the addition of veteran kicker Matt Prater was dubbed the team’s best offseason move in 2021.
The Cardinals were a win away from making the playoffs last season and happened to lose two games because of missed field goals. Just one of those would’ve put Arizona in the postseason. The Cardinals didn’t re-sign Zane Gonzalez, instead opting for the 36-year-old Prater, who’s one of the best kickers in NFL history. Giving themselves that kind of talent at kicker could end up being the difference between going to the playoffs or missing them for the sixth straight season.
The Cardinals won’t have to look too far to see where their NFC West counterparts ranked on the list.
That’s because the entire division found itself in the top 13, with the Los Angeles Rams at No. 6 and the Seattle Seahawks at No. 9 being the only two teams ahead of Arizona. Both the Rams and Seahawks dropped by one spot on the list.
The San Francisco 49ers were ranked 13th and saw the biggest drop after previously being No. 9.
No changes were made to the top four teams — a repeat of last year’s conference championship games — but the order had a slight tweak.
The Kansas City Chiefs remain atop the chart, while the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved up to No. 2.
The Green Bay Packers at No. 3 and Buffalo Bills at No. 4 rounded out the remainder of the top four.
The adjustment to the list comes prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, which will take place from April 29 to May 1.