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Today’s guest post/trivia question comes from Adam Harstad, a co-writer of mine at Footballguys.com. You can follow Adam on twitter at @AdamHarstad.


While researching my article on DeAndre Hopkins’ receiving first downs, I came across a striking statistic. Since 1994 (as far back as Pro Football Reference has queryable play-by-play data), there have been three seasons where a receiver gained at least 800 receiving yards and had at least 49.5% of that receiving yardage come while his team was trailing by at least 14 points.

Amazingly, all three seasons belonged to a different Arizona Cardinals receiver. In 1995, Rob Moore gained 907 receiving yards, and 475 (52.4%), came while his team was down by at least two touchdowns. In 2000, David Boston gained 1156 receiving yards, and 591 (51.1%), came while his team was trailing by 14 or more. In 2003, Anquan Boldin gained 1377 receiving yards, and 682 (49.5%) came while trailing by at least 14.

Three different seasons. Three different receivers catching passes from three different quarterbacks, (Dave Krieg, Jake Plummer, and Jeff Blake, respectively). The only common thread uniting them was the franchise they played for.

This immediately became my second-favorite Arizona Cardinals fact. Which inspired me to write a quick trivia question about what is, to my mind, the single most Arizona Cardinals statistic ever.

So far this season, the Arizona Cardinals have been one of the best teams in football, while the Chicago Bears have been one of the weaker teams. Imagine for a second that Arizona embarked on the greatest stretch of football ever played, winning every single game. Imagine that Chicago simultaneously set a new mark for futility, losing every single game.

How many weeks, (not counting byes), of consecutive wins and consecutive losses do you suppose it would take for the Cardinals to have a higher lifetime winning percentage than the Bears?1

Trivia hint 1 Show


Trivia hint 2 Show


Trivia hint 3 Show


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The Chicago Bears have a lifetime winning percentage (counting ties as half a win) of 57.1%. The Arizona Cardinals have a lifetime winning percentage of 42.4%. The percentage difference might not seem like a lot, but remember that both franchises were founding members of the original APFA back in 1920. Collectively, they’ve combined to play over 2600 games.

If the Chicago Bears lost 192 consecutive games, their lifetime winning percentage would fall to 49.87% If the Arizona Cardinals won 192 consecutive games, their lifetime winning percentage would rise to 49.90%. Which means, for the first time in their history, the Cardinals would have a better winning percentage than the Bears.

Assuming 16-game seasons, that would work out to exactly 12 years. So, barring an expansion of the season, the absolute soonest the Cardinals could pull ahead would be midway through the 2027 season.

How many games is 192? As mentioned, it’s 50 games longer than Hall of Famer John Madden’s coaching career (142 games). It’s about a year and a half shorter than the Houston Texans have existed as a franchise (216 games). It’s as long as Joe Montana’s playing career (192 games, though only 164 of them were starts), and two games more than Walter Payton played (190).

If another statistic better captures the lifetime futility of the Arizona Cardinals, I’m sure I do not know it.

  1. Counting ties as half a win and half a loss. []
  • Also very Cardinalsy is that, after winning those 192 consecutive games, they still aren’t a .500 team. They’d have to win till about week 13 of the 2027 season to pull that off.

  • JeremyDeShetler

    This isn’t as good as the ‘Catching-the-Bears’ statistic, but the fact that it took the Cardinals 94 years to get their 10th playoff appearances demonstrates their futility pretty well. Obviously, it’s gotten easier as the playoffs expanded over time, but if you look at how many years it took other franchises to get to 10…it’s pretty sad.
    (Note that I included pre-1933 titles, and AFL/AAFC playoffs)

    Houston, Jacksonville & Carolina are the only teams who haven’t made 10 playoff appearances yet. Jags & Panthers each have 6 in 20 years, while the Texans have 2 in 13.

    Team, number of years it took to reach 10, year.

    Cle 10 1955
    Dal 17 1976
    Mia 18 1983
    Oak 18 1977
    Min 18 1978
    Bal 19 2014
    NYG 22 1946
    Ind 25 1977
    Chi 27 1946
    Ten 29 1988
    Buf 31 1990
    TB 32 2007
    Sea 32 2007
    SD 33 1992
    Den 34 1993
    KC 34 1993
    NEP 38 1998
    StL 38 1974
    GB 41 1961
    SF 41 1986
    NYJ 43 2002
    Wsh 43 1974
    Cin 44 2011
    Atl 45 2010
    NO 47 2013
    Pit 50 1982
    Phi 57 1989
    Det 64 1993
    Arz 94 2014

    • JeremyDeShetler

      Sorry about the crapping formatting.

    • Richie

      I was curious, so I had to look up the number of seasons it took those teams to reach their next 10 playoff appearances:

      http://i.imgur.com/DStAODL.png

      • Roger Kirk

        I don’t care if Roger Good Orwell says “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” even the NFL cannot rewrite history. The Cleveland Browns team that existed until 1995 is now the Baltimore Ravens. It has no connection with the current Cleveland Browns. If the NFL ran baseball they’d try to tell us that Cal Ripken Jr. played for the same Baltimore Orioles as Wee Willie Keeler. If chroniclers of the NFL don’t want to challenge the league on this issue, then let’s at least be consistent. Let’s change the Indianapolis team’s nickname, call the Baltimore Ravens the Baltimore Colts, and give them credit for Johnny Unitas and Lenny Moore’s statistics.

        • Richie

          Of course, that decision was made long before Roger Goodell became commissioner.

          • Roger Kirk

            But he could salvage his reputation by rescinding it and we Rogers could hold our heads high again.

  • Richie

    This makes me think of a related question. How many franchises have ever passed another franchise in career winning percentage? I would say we would want to start at least 10 years after both franchises began.

    (The Texans beat the Cowboys in their first ever game, taking a lead over Dallas all-time. Then they lost their second game, which I assume would put them behind Dallas. So this wouldn’t count.)

    I think about maybe a team like the Patriots who were mostly bad for a long time, but have racked up a lot of wins in the last 20 years, so probably passed a handful of teams recently.

    • Well, my first thought for a companion to the Patriots would be the Raiders. As it turns out, it’s a pretty good one.

      • Richie

        Yeah, teams like the Raiders and Dolphins seem like good candidates for the other side.

        Patriots vs Raiders is a good one since they’ve crossed a couple times. Although only once after my arbitrary 10-year threshhold.

  • Richie

    My first estimate was 200 games. Then I thought that was too high because the Bears have had a lot of bad seasons over the years, so I thought 100 might be good. Finally, I decided to go with 150 as my guess.

  • Jamie Parry

    Jamie likes this statistic.