Over the weekend, I wrote that the Bengals are currently in their glory years. Is the same true of the Cardinals? Last year, Arizona outscored opponents by 176 points, even after being outscored by 30 points in the meaningless season finale. That mark narrowly edged the ’48 team (+169) for the best margin in franchise history (of course, it did not win on a per-game basis):
The Cardinals have been a bad franchise for most of the team’s existence. The graph below shows the franchise’s cumulative points differential after each year, both as a franchise and broken down by location:
The Arizona years have been bad — really, really bad — up until very recently. But the team is currently enjoying a far better run now than it has had at any time since 1950. Over the last three seasons, Arizona has outscored opponents by well over 200 points; the last time that happened was when the Cardinals were playing for the title in ’47 and ’48:
One thing that is clear? We are definitely at the height of the combined Bengals/Cardinals. In only four seasons have the two franchises combined for more than 20 wins: 1975, when both teams went 11-3, and each of the last three seasons. In fact, Cincinnati and Arizona have combined for a whopping 67 wins over the last three years, ten more than in any other three-year period:
From ’91 to ’93, the two teams combined for just 26 wins. From ’00 to ’02, they combined for only 27 wins. These two teams were cellar dwellars for much of the last 25 years, but are now two of the best teams in the NFL.