In Any Given Sunday, Football Outsiders examines the most surprising result of each NFL weekend and where the two teams involved can go from here. Week 7's edition focuses on how the Arizona Cardinals beat the New York Giants -- and what it means for the NFC's last two Super Bowl representatives.
A surprising appearance (and surprisingly good performance) in Super Bowl XLIII fooled some observers into thinking the 2008 Arizona Cardinals were a great football team -- which they certainly were not. They were a thoroughly mediocre team that won two playoff games at home and a third thanks to a Jake Delhomme meltdown. This year, however, the offense has slightly regressed but a new scheme put together by defensive coordinator Bill Davis has worked wonders, making the Cardinals a better team right now than they ever were last season.
The biggest change has come against the run; the Cardinals' defense ranks first in the league in DVOA against the run. (DVOA is defense-adjusted value over average, Football Outsiders' exclusive stat that analyzes every play and adjusts it for down-and-distance, field positions, score, opponent and other factors.)
However, the Cardinals rank ninth against the pass -- and before the game against the Giants, they ranked 17th.