Arizona Cardinals were very disappointed with a 10-6 season that didn't end in the postseason. They just missed the playoffs, but felt very positive with the progress that was made. Despite the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl and the San Francisco 49ers looking as tough an opponent as always, head coach Bruce Arians does not think his Cardinals are far off.
While in his hometown York, PA for their yearly sports night, he told York Dispatch reporter John Walk he feels Arizona is not far away from being champions.
"That's why we're so excited about getting back because we know how close we are," Arians said. "We played San Francisco to two games that were winnable and then split with Seattle and split with St. Louis, so we have a chance to win our division and we know we're a pretty good football team."
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio went as far to write that the Cards just might be "the third best team in the NFL."
The defense proved to be top notch. The offense played better down the stretch. Carson Palmer, after 15 first half interceptions, threw only seven over the final eight games (even though four came in the team's win in Seattle). The same offensive core returns with a full year of Arians' offense under their belt.
This is a bold statement. Seattle and San Fran are clearly elite teams. But if the Cards can perform in 2014 like they did in the second half of 2013, it doesn't sound crazy at all that the Cards could be the NFC West champs. And, based on what we saw this past postseason, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs with the defense they play.
They need to secure some key players like Karlos Dansby and get players healthy that were hurt this past season, but the Cardinals are acting like a team that knows they have what it takes and not one that is moving forward slowly.
That will either lead to one of the more exciting seasons fans have seen, or it could also lead to bitter disappointment with elevated expectations.
It's only February, but Arians is already trying to serve up "the Kool-Aid" in large quantities. If you feel like it, drink it up. It makes things quite exciting.