'People are sleeping on us and that's OK'

One sequence stood out from Daryn Colledge's recent interview with The Pulling Linemen.

"We were in almost every game last year and we split with San Fran," the Arizona Cardinals' left guard said. "People are sleeping on us and that's OK. We are right where we wanna be."

The 49ers were that team last offseason. They were supposed to struggle with a new coaching staff. Their decision to stick with Alex Smith at quarterback invited skepticism.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams, armed with an up-and-coming franchise quarterback and a seemingly consistent defense, were supposed to emerge as the top team in the division.

The 49ers went 13-3. The Rams went 2-14.

Colledge's comments warn against allowing reasonable expectations to harden over the offseason.

The Cardinals, like the 49ers a year ago, have maintained the status quo at quarterback. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton invite skepticism. But the 2011 Cardinals did make a three-game improvement from the previous season. They did win seven of their final nine games.

I'm taking an open mind to Arizona for the Cardinals' minicamp sessions Wednesday. Grant from Omaha, Neb., made sure of it with a note he left in the NFC West mailbag:

"I was just wondering why there isn't more talk about the Cardinals jumping up in the division. They had a strong end to last season. People are talking about three breakout players -- Ryan Williams, Rob Housler and Patrick Peterson -- more than I have seen for any other team.

"Though the Cardinals did not get Peyton Manning, I think William Gay was a great upgrade at corner. They could see three or four starters from this draft class by the end of the year (depending on J didn't get manning think gay was a great upgrade as well as a good draft which could see 3 to 4 starters out of it by the end of the year (depending on Jamell Fleming).

"All in all, they got younger, they have a lot of talent and seem to be heading upward. Yeah, I know about the quarterbacks. Kolb didn't play terribly; he just couldn't finish. Skelton could finish, but he pulled dumb plays time and again (though, remembering back, I swear Kurt Warner would do somethingn stupid early and the come roaring back).

"Long story short, maybe it is better no one's talking about them. They like that underdog feeling and I think they're going to surprise some people."

Colledge's point about playing close games sent me back through the Cardinals' results from last season.

Arizona won eight games, each by between two and seven points. The Cardinals lost eight games, each by between one and 24 points. The average difference was 4.25 points per victory and 8.75 points per defeat. The median difference was 3.5 points for victories and 5.5 for defeats.

That seems like an unusual number of victories without any lopsided final scores. Looks like a little more research awaits.