Last year, the Cardinals started the season 8-1, but did so in a fashion that screamed, “UNSUSTAINABLE!” Here is what I wrote at the time last year:
The Cardinals have scored 223 points and allowed 170. That translates to just a 0.668 Pythagenpat winning percentage. That’s easily the worst of any team since 1990 to start 8-1 or 9-0.
The Cardinals promptly followed that up by going 3-2 over their next five games despite being outscored by 10 points! But then Ryan Lindley took over, and Arizona lost their final three games of the year.
This year, the Cardinals started the season in a fashion not-too-dissimilar from what we saw from them last year: Arizona defeated New Orleans, 31-19, but only thanks to a 55-yard touchdown to David Johnson in the final two minutes.
But since then, Arizona won 48-23 against the Bears and 47-7 against the 49ers yesterday. Through three weeks, the Cardinals have outscored opponents by a whopping 77 points, which is tied for the 13th best margin through three weeks among all teams since 1950. The good news for Arizona fans: the first 12 all made the playoffs, three won it all, and five more lost in the title game.
|Rk||Team||Year||PF||PA||PD||Record||Win %||Season End|
|1||Dallas Cowboys||1968||132||33||99||12-2||0.857||Lost in Div Rd|
|2||Green Bay Packers||1962||100||7||93||13-1||0.929||Won Title|
|3||Green Bay Packers||1996||115||26||89||13-3||0.813||Won Title|
|4||Detroit Lions||1970||106||17||89||10-4||0.714||Lost in Div Rd|
|5||Dallas Cowboys||1966||127||38||89||10-3-1||0.750||Lost in NFL Title Game|
|6||Philadelphia Eagles||1980||104||16||88||12-4||0.750||Lost in Super Bowl|
|7||Washington Redskins||1991||112||31||81||14-2||0.875||Won Title|
|8||Oakland Raiders||1967||109||28||81||13-1||0.929||Lost in Super Bowl|
|9||Green Bay Packers||2001||93||13||80||12-4||0.750||Lost in Div Rd|
|10||New England Patriots||2007||114||35||79||16-0||1.000||Lost in Super Bowl|
|11||Detroit Lions||1954||104||26||78||9-2-1||0.792||Lost in NFL Title Game|
|12||Oakland Raiders||1968||119||42||77||12-2||0.857||Lost in AFL Title Game|
Perhaps more incredibly, the Cardinals have scored 126 points, tied with for the fourth most by any team since 1940 through three games. By comparison, in Arizona’s last eight games last year, the team scored 101 points.
Some of this isn’t sustainable — the Cardinals have four non-offensive touchdowns already — but the offense certainly looks a lot stronger, too. Remember that Bruce Arians and Steve Keim are just starting their third season as the face of the Arizona franchise. Yes, Arians inherited Carson Palmer, but he added John Brown and Jared Veldheer last year, and David Johnson, Chris Johnson, and Jonathan Cooper this year.1 And don’t forget that Mike Iupati, the team’s biggest offseason acquisition, hasn’t even played yet due to a knee injury but is expected back soon. And Larry Fitzgerald looks dominant again, too.
It seems clear that the Cardinals are one of the best teams in the NFL. But are they now also one of the best offenses? What do you think?
- Well, Cooper was added in 2013, but he’s finally a starter in 2015, after being limited to just two starts during his first two seasons. [↩]