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Pasch Factor: Cardinals No Mirage

Despite Rams loss, Cards built to succeed in 2015

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In today's world of sports media coverage it's hard to show restraint, and resist the urge to overreact. It was easy to be optimistic about the Cardinals after a 3-0 start, and just as easy to begin to wonder after a home loss against a division foe.

If you look deeper at what happened in the game, the minds of Cardinals fans should be at ease.

Arizona couldn't convert on third down, struggled in the red zone, and turned the ball over. And yet the Cardinals still had a couple of chances to win the game. I've seen mirages in 14 years of covering the NFL. The Cardinals are not a mirage.

The 2012 team that started 4-0 was a different story. Those who were close to that team knew they weren't very good. It was only a matter of time until they showed their true colors. A 16-game season does that. If you're not very good, you can't hide for too long. If, instead, you are a good team, you eventually stack wins. I have no problem saying that the Arizona Cardinals are a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2015. Yes, I work for the team, but anyone who listens to the games knows I'm fair and reasonable with my commentary. I said in training camp this was the best roster I've seen as the team's announcer, and my opinion hasn't changed.

Last year, the Cardinals started 3-0, then lost badly at Denver. Arizona went on to win the next six games, despite numerous key injuries. They still had a chance to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs going into a home game with Seattle in Week 16. I firmly believe that this team is better than last year's team. Carson Palmer, Tyrann Mathieu, and Patrick Peterson are finally healthy. Larry Fitzgerald looks like he's 25. John Brown has a year under his belt. Rookies Rodney Gunter and David Johnson are having an impact. Despite Sunday's loss against the Rams, the Cardinals have still scored the most points in the NFL, and have by far the largest scoring differential in the league. They are prolific offensively, and stout defensively.

The fact that they're even in turnover ratio tells me they can win games without winning the turnover battle. That's only the case with a few teams. Carolina is unbeaten, but is plus-8. The Jets are 3-1, but they're plus-6. Neither of those offenses put the fear of death in opponents. Those teams need to protect the ball, and play good defense to win. If the Cardinals maintain good health, they will be in contention for a deep run in the postseason.

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