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The Arizona Cardinals and Pythagenpat Records

The secret to Arizona's success

The secret to Arizona’s success

At 8-1 — but with just a 0.668 Pythagenpat winning percentage — I wrote about the good fortune of the Arizona Cardinals. Fortune is relative: the Cardinals have lost both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to injuries, and just about every key contributor you can think of along the way. But the team’s good fortune when it comes to Pythagenpat winning percentage has continued. (For the uninitiated, you can read more about how to calculate Pythagenpat records here.)

Since that article, Arizona has gone 3-2 despite being outscored by 10 points. That is both a fact and doubles as the most 2014 Arizona Cardinals sentence you could ever write. The 11-3 Cardinals are definitely not the worst 11-3 team ever, but they aren’t too far from the top of the list. If we look at all teams with at least 11 wins in their first 14 games, Arizona checks in as the 8th biggest overachiever. Given that the 2004 Falcons had a worst points differential *and* were fortunate to face an easy schedule, Arizona can’t match Atlanta when it comes to worst 11-3 teams.

RkTeamYearWLTPFPAWin %PythW%Diff
1ATL200411303012830.7860.5390.246
2IND2009140039424810.770.23
3TEN199911303042740.7860.5660.22
4CLE196511303633250.7860.5730.213
5PIT200413103232200.9290.7230.205
6OAK197613103502370.9290.730.198
7NWE200312202962220.8570.6710.186
8ARI201411302872440.7860.60.186
9MIN200011303593070.7860.6020.184
10SFO199013103232090.9290.7470.181
11IND200611303763110.7860.6230.162
12NYG198612202892050.8570.6980.159
13BUF199112204092940.8570.7070.15
14RAM197811302662110.7860.6370.149
15ATL201012203692610.8570.7110.146
16HOU201212203942800.8570.7120.146
17NYG196212203982830.8570.7120.145
18IND199912203882740.8570.7140.143
19WAS198611303172510.7860.6440.142
20PHI200311303152490.7860.6440.141
21GNB201113104802970.9290.7880.14
22ATL201212203712590.8570.7180.139
23CLE1948140038919010.8610.139
24NOR200913104832980.9290.790.139
25OAK196912113772420.8930.7590.134

If we just look at all teams through 14 games, Arizona still comes in as the 16th biggest overachiever. The 2013 Jets just miss the cut, but that team won its last two games.

RkTeamYearWLTPFPAWin %PythW%Diff
1ATL200411303012830.7860.5390.246
2PIT19629503123630.6430.4010.242
3IND20129503093580.6430.4040.239
4IND19927701792720.50.2690.231
5IND2009140039424810.770.23
6TEN199911303042740.7860.5660.22
7CLE196511303633250.7860.5730.213
8KAN20116801923190.4290.2220.206
9PIT19897702062940.50.2950.205
10PIT200413103232200.9290.7230.205
11OAK197613103502370.9290.730.198
12MIN20058602493040.5710.3770.194
13OAK20095901753350.3570.1680.189
14CLE19769502672870.6430.4550.188
15NWE200312202962220.8570.6710.186
16ARI201411302872440.7860.60.186
17NOR19735901633120.3570.1720.185
18MIN200011303593070.7860.6020.184
19SFO199013103232090.9290.7470.181
20BUF20077702222990.50.3230.177
21PHI19959502832980.6430.4670.176
22CHI19687702503330.50.3250.175
23DEN20118602923430.5710.3970.175
24CLE198610403102900.7140.5430.172
25PHI19669503263400.6430.4720.171

For a team that has had a lot of terrible luck this year, the Cardinals have sure been lucky.

  • I’m taking all of this as evidence that the Cardinals should have gone 2-14.

    • Chase Stuart

      You were very, VERY, VERY close to nailing that one. If only Palmer and Stanton were injured in game 1.

    • I was with you on that boat and I will follow your steering here!

  • Chris S

    By my reasoning, Arizona is still in the running for worst 11-3 team ever. That Atlanta team was not great, but they did lose their final two regular season games to finish 11-5 and managed to win a playoff game. If Arizona drops the last two of the regular season and the first game of the playoffs, they will be in the conversation with Atlanta from 2004. It will depend on how badly the last three games went. Bad losses to Seattle at home and/or San Francisco on the road are a possibility, which could give Arizona a negative point differential. On the other hand, if Arizona wins at least 1 of its last regular season games, they will have more wins than that Atlanta team and have a new set of teams to be compared against. It will be hard to find a worse 12-4 or 13-3 team than Arizona. The first candidate, the 11-3 Titans team from 1999, finished 13-3 and went to the Superbowl.