The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Cards Continue the Crazy

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The NFC was bound to put a less-than-impressive representative in the Super Bowl; that's what happens when you have the first championship game with two nine-win teams in a non-strike season. Still, nobody saw the Cardinals doing this. Nobody expected a team that folded like a cheap card table down the stretch, and played in football's worst division, and couldn't run the ball at all, to make the Super Bowl.

And in that sense, based on what's happened over the last few years, you might want to think twice before declaring that the Cards can't beat the Steelers. Based on Pythagorean wins (explained here) the 2007 New York Giants are the "worst" Super Bowl champion in NFL history. The second-"worst"? The 2006 Indianapolis Colts. From a point differential standpoint, those two teams are two of the three worst of all time -- the Colts had a point differential per game of 4.2, and the Giants were the worst at 1.4 per game.

The 2008 Cardinals had a point differential of 1. For the entire season. They scored 427 points and allowed 426. For the mathematically inclined among you, that gives them a per-game point differential of 0.0625. To put in perspective, the 9-6-1 Eagles had a point differential of 127 (7.9 per game).

However, what these stats don't account for, and what we may have to start accepting more and more, is that pro football is morphing into a beast that is fed by the hot hand at the time. More and more, it matters less and less how you did in-season -- it's all about what you've done lately. And the Cardinals mirror the 2006 Colts (the only Super Bowl champion to finish with the league's worst run defense) and the 2007 Giants (the only Super Bowl champion to feature the quarterback who led the league in interceptions) as supposedly "defective" teams that got inexplicably hot at the right time, and shocked the world.

Eventually, these late-season trends won't seem as shocking. The Cards might have a lot to do with that if they continue their "How did they do that?" run.

By Doug Farrar  |  January 19, 2009; 8:46 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Doug Farrar , Philadelphia Eagles , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Enough With the Nine-Win Thing | Next: January 19th Winner: JPRS

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