ESPN: Cardinals are the best team in the NFL

Posted at 11:24 AM, Dec 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-29 16:16:57-05

The Carolina Panthers still have the NFL's best record, but the Arizona Cardinals are the league's best team.

That's according to ESPN's weekly power rankings updated Tuesday. The Cards' nine straight victories, combined with the Panthers' first loss of the season on Sunday, was enough for ESPN to move Arizona from second to first in its rankings, and bump Carolina down to No. 2.

"The Cardinals have won nine straight games for only the second time in franchise history," ESPN noted. "The last time they did that was across the 1948-49 seasons (11 straight)."

See also: The ABC15 sports team ranks the top five teams in the NFL

Yes, these power rankings are arbitrary and have no influence on the NFL playoffs. Nonetheless, the Cards' top ranking is an unprecedented display of respect from The Worldwide Leader in Sports, as Tuesday marked the first time ESPN has rated the Cardinals No. 1 since it began its weekly power rankings poll in 2002. The Cards were ranked No. 2 four times last season, as well as in each of the previous three weeks.

The Cardinals, who clinched a first-round playoff bye with its 38-8 win over the Packers on Sunday, were never ranked higher than seventh by ESPN during the 2008 season when they advanced to their first-ever Super Bowl.