With his team on a four-game winning streak, Arizona Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians had some simple advice for his players: "Just don't listen to the noise."
The noise, Arians said, is the stir the team has created with the winning streak, which has made them a serious playoff contender.
The Cardinals weren't getting much attention when they were floundering near .500, or even when they beat the Falcons, Texans and Jaguars in consecutive weeks. Each of those teams is now 2-9.
The Colts are dealing with several injuries but they entered last week 7-3, and the Cardinals demolished them, 40-11.
"The noise is going to get louder each week, and you've got to tune the noise out," Arians said. "All that really matters is what's going on in the locker room."
This week the Cardinals play the Eagles, who have won three consecutive games and are coming off a bye.
The biggest improvement over the last month has come on offense. The Cardinals have been able to run the ball, at least a little, and quarterback Carson Palmer has made fewer mistakes.
He seems more comfortable with receivers Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, and tight end Rob Housler is coming off two strong performances.
"I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I would have liked to have had it sooner," Arians said. "But we are getting to where we understand what we're trying to accomplish when we come out of the huddle every time."
Arians denied that he has simplified his offensive scheme, and Palmer backed that up.
"The biggest difference is trust," Palmer said. "We're really starting to get that trust and that confidence in each other."
The Cardinals aren't going to become an offensive juggernaut. Arians seemed to admit that when he said opponents weren't going to fear the offense but at least had to respect it now.
The identity of the team is still defense, and the Cardinals would be making a huge mistake if they didn't recognize that.
"There aren't many defenses that have as many ball hawks," Palmer said. "So the first thing I think about is that we're a defensive team, but nothing says we can't develop into an offensive team."