Arizona Cardinals are good, and it's going to cost them
While we knew these were no longer our father's Arizona Cardinals, it was still fairly easy to dismiss them as anything more than a nice team with some good players.
If the Cardinals take care of business Sunday and beat the Miami Dolphins at University of Phoenix Stadium they will improve their record to 4-0 on the season.
They will have won 11 of their last 13 games -- eight of which have been at home -- and knocked off the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles (twice) during that stretch.
That's not what "nice teams with good players" do. That's what good teams with good players do.
So prepare yourself for Arizona Cardinals: Good team, because that is what appears to be on the horizon.
Raise your hand if you saw this coming? Now put your hand down, liar.
Maybe we should have seen this coming.
During the time when the Cardinals were falling apart on offense they were spending time building up what was to become one of the league's best defenses.
Since 2008, the Cardinals have selected 12 players from that side of the ball in the draft's first four rounds, with many of those players becoming key cogs in the group that has allowed just two touchdowns this entire season.
Smart teams try to build through the draft, and the best teams are successful in doing just that. The team has no doubt missed on some picks (Cody Brown, Kenny Iwebema), their hits (Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Sam Acho, Patrick Peterson) not only make up for it, but make up the core of this defense going forward.
They're good now, but the future may be even better. To a man the Cardinals believe their defense can get better.
They may be right.
Only Darnell Dockett, Paris Lenon, Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes are on the wrong side of 30, and neither one of them appears to be slowing down, while the team has plenty of younger players who are all still learning the game.
In fact, the only thing that may prevent this defense from not only being dominant for the foreseeable future is the imminent departure of Ray Horton in the offseason because make no mistake, this is the defensive coordinator's swan song in the desert.
Horton will become the second coordinator in the Whisenhunt era to be hired away by another team, and his loss will likely be even more painful than that of Todd Haley when he bolted for the Chiefs following Super Bowl XLIII.
Losing talent is no fun, but it's better than the alternative. After all, no one is looking to poach anyone from the Cleveland Browns, and chances are Kansas City Chiefs fans don't have to worry about their team being raided, either.
The price of success is steep, but it's one the good teams end up paying.
And the Cardinals are a good team.