A 10-6 record wasn't good enough to get the Arizona Cardinals into the playoffs.
It did, however, generate a locker room bursting with confidence after one season under coach Bruce Arians.
The Cardinals, a woeful 5-11 a year ago, won seven of their last nine, impressive but not quite enough in the tough NFC West. Arizona went 2-4 against teams in its division, with the biggest win two weeks ago at Seattle.
That victory and Sunday's 23-20 near miss against San Francisco have the Cardinals believing they can go toe-to-toe with the two NFC powers.
Arians says he wants to do everything he can to keep the core group together, but some change is certain. Sixteen players have expiring contracts, six of them starters.
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