Move over Seattle Seahawks. After always getting love from analytics sites like Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus, it is the Arizona Cardinals who now are getting that attention.
Football Outsiders has picked the Cardinals to be the best team in the NFC, and now Pro Football Focus has done the same. In their first 2016 projections, the Cardinals sit atop the conference with a 12-4 record, just ahead of the Seahawks, who are also projected to finish the regular season 12-4.
The Cardinals once again exceeded expectations in 2015, and had it not been for their best defensive player getting hurt—and Carson Palmer having his worst game at the worst time—Arizona could have been in the Super Bowl. While some of the NFC’s elite rosters remained mostly intact or had some players leave, the Cardinals were actually able to improve over the course of the offseason. On offense, they let go of several underperforming linemen and brought in the third-highest-graded guard from last year, Evan Mathis. On defense, they improved their pass-rush with Chandler Jones and rookie Robert Nkemdiche.
PFF uses some reason. Of course, they love Carson Palmer and Tyrann Mathieu, as both score very highly in their grading system.
Of course, these expectations are nothing new to the team. Everyone in that locker room is talking about finishing the season and it is a Super Bowl or bust mentality. They know they are good and understand expectations of them. For fans, articles like this just confirm what we hope.
There is much to be done, but it is nice to see our hopes and dreams confirmed by sites with a solid reputation.