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Dan Levy
Sports Media Guru

Dan Levy

The host of On the DL with new episodes every weekday.

Enough With the Nine-Win Thing


Saying you're the worst Super Bowl team is kind of like saying you're the ugliest super model, isn't it?

I have not seen every Super Bowl. Sure, I've watched clips of each on the 'NFL Films Presents,' but those games are displayed in a capsule. We watch the game, not the back-story on how each team got to the game.

So, history will remember this Cardinals team in two weeks as either Super Bowl Champions or as, perhaps, the worst team to ever make the Super Bowl. But weren't we having this same conversation about the Giants last year? The Giants were 10-6, but by no means looked like champions. They beat a Tampa team in the wild card round who couldn't keep a quarterback healthy all season, took out a Dallas team that clearly had (and has) big-gameitis and beat an old, bone-chilled Brett Favre and the Packers to get to the Super Bowl. Real Clear Sports, who tried last week to find the worst Super Bowl team of all time, said this about the 2007 Giants:

Of the 42 teams that have won the big game, the 2007 Giants are last (or tied for last) in winning percentage (0.625), point differential per game (1.4) and the Pythagorean record (0.536). Additionally, the Giants had just one Pro Bowler, went 0-4 against playoff-teams Dallas, Green Bay and New England in the regular season (losing by a combined 46 points) and finished second-to-last in margin of victory per game in the playoffs (5.0).

If the Patriots had won the Super Bowl last year, they'd be the greatest team in American Sports history. And the Giants would have been lucky to be on the same field. But, as we know, the Giants won. So they're remembered as Champions -- and so too can the Cardinals be.

Back in the 80's, I remember a few teams that, heading into the Super Bowl, nobody thought had a chance to win the game. The '85 Patriots. The '87 Broncos. But after watching this Cardinals team for the last three weeks, does anyone think they don't have a chance to win this game? After last year's surprise, haven't we been conditioned to expect anything? So yes, it's not a stretch to think that a team with nine wins in the regular season can in fact be the World Champions.

And enough with this "nine-win" team going to the Super Bowl business. The Cardinals do not have nine wins. They have 12 wins. The last three wins all came in the playoffs, against teams with better regular season records. People talked about how tough the NFC South was this season. Arizona beat two of those teams. The NFC East was looked at as one of the best divisions of "all-time" and the Giants lost a home playoff game to a "nine-win" team before that "nine-win" team got beat at Arizona.

Sure this Cardinals team had almost as many downs as ups this season. And yes, they played in a terrible division. But when they line up on February 1st, they'll have a dynamic offense led by a Hall of Fame quarterback under center (if he wasn't in already, this got him in), a refocused defense that has forced 12 turnovers in three games, and oh-by-the-way, the best player on the field in Larry Fitzgerald.

Does anyone expect the Cardinals to win? No. But If this team is the worst Super Bowl team of all-time, football fans have been spoiled for the last 43 years.

By Dan Levy  |  January 19, 2009; 8:45 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Philadelphia Eagles , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: In The 'Zona | Next: Cards Continue the Crazy


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this whole 'not qualified' thing is absurd, really. It reminds me of the comments about both Obama and Palin during the election. There are three qualifications for being President or Vice-President, you must be 35+, born American and be elected. c'est la tout. there is one qualification to be in the SuperBowl, you must be the playoff champion of either the AFC or the NFC. this wasn't voted on, the Cardinals took all comers and beat them in the playoffs, just like the Steelers did. does it look good on paper? no, but then, that's why they play the game.

and yes, taking the Cardinals to the SuperBowl is worthy of a first ballot trip to Canton. no matter what else is on your resume.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | January 19, 2009 2:34 PM

Absolutely correct. And this also illustrates why the BCS nonsense must be replaced with a college football playoff. The ultimate champion must be the team that overcomes all challengers at the end of the season, not one produced by analysis of statistics.

Posted by: a95cam | January 19, 2009 3:25 PM

Though I think the Cardinals have a good chance of "upsetting" the heavily favored Steelers because that's what they've been doing for the past 3 weeks,I must agree with you that you can't expect them to win. . . so I'll take the points with the Cardinals just to be sure.

Posted by: NeilFromRockville | January 19, 2009 3:33 PM

Right, it's over, the 9-7 record.

BUT! How many of you really believe that New England would not be able to beat either the Steelers or the Cardinals when it's all said and done?

NE - best team in the NFL right now, and didn't make the playoffs because of early record.

Posted by: treelinedc | January 19, 2009 7:27 PM

This shows how closely I was following the NFL regular season, but I wouldn't have been able to tell you how many wins the Cardinals had. They were in the playoffs, so they had to be good enough, right? The regular season win total was irrelevant.

But you said it perfectly, Dan: They have 12 wins. And may just get 13 in two weeks.

Posted by: Casselberry | January 19, 2009 7:29 PM

i am not an expert in football, but what is happening is that the NFL has made rule changes that greatly favor the passing game.

so a team with an explosive passing offense has an inherent advantage over other teams, particularly if they have the capacity to accomplish 30+ passing plays and long passing plays that directly score, thus eliminating red zone issues.

so the cardinals are actually one of the best teams when viewed from the right angle. that is how they have gotten into the super bowl.

Posted by: johnmacneille | January 24, 2009 11:44 AM

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