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NFL analyst: Cardinals are sleeper team in NFC West

It’s no secret that the Arizona Cardinals aren’t favored to win the NFC West.

With the seventh-toughest schedule in the league, head coach Bruce Arians and the Cardinals have a tough road ahead of them in 2013.

But NFL Network analyst Heath Evans believes Arizona is a sleeper team in the West.

“You get Bruce Arians … give them Carson Palmer, we know Larry Fitzgerald, (and) Rashard Mendenhall if he’s healthy — you can imagine a team that’s very physical,” Evans said. “I can see this team making a push inside that division.”

Evans acknowledged the team’s hiccups in 2012, but he said you can’t ignore the Cardinals defense.

“I know this team won four straight then lost a whole bunch with only one win down the stretch, but this team plays good defense,” Evans said. “You look at their record from last year, they only got blown out one time in Seattle — it was 58-0.

“But this defense, despite what was going on on the offensive side of the ball, kind of maintained their poise throughout the year.”