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Seattle Seahawks' Ahtyba Rubin, left, and Bobby Wagner tackle Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson on a carry by Johnson in the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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NFL.com: Cardinals still top contender to Seahawks in NFC West

Seattle Seahawks' Ahtyba Rubin, left, and Bobby Wagner tackle Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson on a carry by Johnson in the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Arizona Cardinals were expected to be among the best teams in the NFL in 2016, and with that were supposed to win the NFC West for a second consecutive season.

They were not, and they did not.

As we all know, the Cardinals finished a disappointing 7-8-1, ceding the division back to the Seattle Seahawks, who went 10-5-1.

Based on that alone, you’d have to think the Seahawks are once again the favorites to claim the NFC West in 2017. Adding to that, little has happened over the first couple weeks of the NFL’s free agency period to make one think the Cardinals were ready to usurp the division champs.

That’s essentially the perspective NFL.com’s Adam Schein has, although when looking at each divisions’ favorite and top contender, he still sees the Cardinals as a threat.

Schein has the Seahawks as the favorite, noting he liked the pickup of running back Eddie Lacy and that their defense is still nasty. As for the Cardinals:

Yes, Arizona lost Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson in free agency. But this team still oozes talent. And getting Tyrann Mathieu back from injury is gigantic. Last year was a major disappointment, but the Cardinals have improved the special teams and the core of the roster. Overall, this team is just too strong. I expect a major bounceback in 2017.

Schein has long been fond of the Cardinals, and with the Rams and 49ers both rebuilding, it makes sense that the Cardinals will once again be the Seahawks’ top challenger.

But will the Cardinals have enough to contend again?

As pointed out, Arizona has lost a lot from its defense, which last season finished second in the NFL in yards allowed. Free agency has not been particularly kind to them across the board, though it’s likely most of the departures were expected and the Cardinals have added talent, such as linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Antoine Bethea.

With all that, there is still plenty that can be done in free agency and then there will be the NFL Draft, in which the Cardinals hold the 13th overall selection.

So even if the Cardinals are not at the Seahawks’ level now, there is still time for things to change.

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