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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.

RkTeamYearPFPAPDRecordWin %Season End
1Dallas Cowboys1968132339912-20.857Lost in Div Rd
2Green Bay Packers196210079313-10.929Won Title
3Green Bay Packers1996115268913-30.813Won Title
4Detroit Lions1970106178910-40.714Lost in Div Rd
5Dallas Cowboys1966127388910-3-10.750Lost in NFL Title Game
6Philadelphia Eagles1980104168812-40.750Lost in Super Bowl
7Washington Redskins1991112318114-20.875Won Title
8Oakland Raiders1967109288113-10.929Lost in Super Bowl
9Green Bay Packers200193138012-40.750Lost in Div Rd
10New England Patriots2007114357916-01.000Lost in Super Bowl
11Detroit Lions195410426789-2-10.792Lost in NFL Title Game
12Oakland Raiders1968119427712-20.857Lost in AFL Title Game
13Arizona Cardinals20151264977??????

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?

  1. 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. []
  • sacramento gold miners

    Not sold on Arizona yet, they’ve feasted on bad teams, and the schedule looks weak. The Cards will get a huge break facing a likely Michael Vick led Steelers team, and the Ravens are reeling. Games with the Seahawks and Bengals will give us a better idea of Arizona’s quality.

  • Tom

    Agree with sacramento that they’ve played some weak (and maybe downright awful) teams…but, I’ve heard it said that the mark of a good team is that they crush weaker opponents. So perhaps the point to take away from this isn’t that they’ve just beaten these teams, but that they’ve dominated them.

    What interests me more is that two of those games were at home where they’ve enjoyed a tremendous advantage in recent years – since 2002 their observed HFA is +4.6 (the league average is +2.6).

    So, as sacramento says, I think we’ll definitely get a better feel for this team in November when they face the Hawks in Seattle, most likely their toughest road game.