Why the Cardinals are legit

The 3-0 Arizona Cardinals are suddenly a contender behind the play of Kevin Kolb. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

The main lesson to be taken away from Monday night's Fail Mary play is that we all learned a lot more about what constitutes a simultaneous reception.

A secondary lesson was that even in today's age of high-powered offenses, a team with a bruising and dynamic defense can still go toe-to-toe with any team in the league, even if that defense is paired with a somewhat limited offense.

Seattle may have provided that lesson on Monday night, but the same theory holds true for the current leaders in the NFC West division, the Arizona Cardinals. It is why Ken Whisenhunt's team is 3-0 for the first time since 1974, and a detailed look at the game tape and metrics indicates the combination of a powerful D and a fast-improving offense gives the Cardinals everything they need to win this division.

Let's start by reviewing some of the specifics of why this defense stands out.

Arizona has a significant volume of highlights on this side of the ball. The Cardinals' 12 sacks rank tied for second in the league. The 5.9 yards per attempt (YPA) they have allowed through the air ranks third. Their 53.8 percent completion rate allowed ranks fourth, and they have allowed just two passing touchdowns, which ties them for first in that category.