Cardinals midseason report card

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer reacts to a play during Sunday's game against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Arizona beat Dallas 28-17.

Tim Heitman

TEMPE, Ariz. — Well, well, well. Who saw this coming?

Halfway through the NFL season, the injury-depleted Arizona Cardinals have the best record in the NFL and, by virtue of wins over Philadelphia and Dallas, a two-game lead over everyone in the NFC except Detroit.

Six of the seven players the Cardinals thought would be starting on their defensive front are either gone (Karlos Dansby in free agency), suspended (Daryl Washington), out for the season with injuries (Darnell Dockett, ACL; John Abraham, concussion), or will miss significant time with injuries (Calais Campbell, two games; Matt Shaughnessy, eight games).

Their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, missed three games with a shoulder injury; their starting running back, Andre Ellington, has played with a foot injury all season; even punter Dave Zastudil is out for the year with a groin injury.

How did coach Bruce Arians react to reaching the season’s midpoint with the league’s best mark in the face of such adversity?

"Having been 1-7 before 7-1, it feels a lot better," he said. 

It feels a lot better when handing out grades, too — although we’re not prepared to hand out an ‘A’ quite as easily as Arians or Harvard University.

Overall offensive grade: B

Andre Ellington averages 3.8 yards per carry, the lowest per-carry average of anyone among the top 20 rushing leaders.

Overall defensive grade: B+

Overall team grade: A-

Center Lyle Sendlein has been an anchor in the middle of the offensive line that has kept Carson Palmer safe for the most part.

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Larry Foote (left) never comes off the field in his first season with the Cardinals, and his play is the reason.

Chandler Catanzaro is 16 of 16 on field goal attempts and his touchback percentage (63.6) is the 10th-best in the league.

Bruce Arians is 17-7 as coach of the Cardinals.