The Arizona Cardinals are not taking a 0-1 record into their regular-season opener Sunday.
It just feels that way.
After ESPN.com slapped the Cardinals with a No. 23 ranking Tuesday, analysts from Pro Football Focus suggested our voters actually overrated Arizona by, oh, roughly eight spots.
"When you really start to break it down," PFF analyst Khaled Elsayed wrote, "this team might be overseeded at No. 23 in the power rankings, but may actually be a contender for the first pick in the 2013 draft. That's how bad the Cardinals could be."
This would be essentially the same Cardinals team, minus Levi Brown, that won seven of its final nine games last season. The one that led the NFL in third-down conversion defense, ranked second in defensive red zone touchdown percentage and has finished worse than 8-8 just once in Ken Whisenhunt's five seasons as head coach.
Most of the sky-is-falling projections for Arizona stem from evaluations of the offensive line. The projected starting tackles have never started at tackle. The right guard, Adam Snyder, received Pro Football Focus' lowest rating for a starting right guard last season.
It's looking like the extent to which the Cardinals exceed expectations on the offensive line will dictate the extent to which they exceed expectations overall.