Of the NFL’s 32 franchises, you could argue that the Arizona Cardinals have been one of the most lackluster in the league’s history. In fact, if you look at actual statistics, the Cards rank 29th out of the NFL’s 32 teams in all-time win percentage.
Of those three teams the Cards rank ahead of, two of them were founded in or after 1995 - the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans. The 32nd-ranked franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, were founded in 1976, which puts the Cardinals in last place among the 26 pre-merger teams.
Standing with just a 42.4 winning percentage, the Cards would need to embark on a few sensational seasons just to pass up the next pre-merger and 28th overall team on the list, the Atlanta Falcons, who sit at 43.7 percent. Fortunately, not only did the Cards inch closer to that lofty goal last week, but there have also been teams with lackluster success in the post-merger era that once upon a time looked dormant, only to rebound in the 21st century.
3 previously historically dormant NFL franchises the Arizona Cardinals can emulate
1 - Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts
Between 1958 and 1970, the Baltimore Colts were the class of the NFL, winning the 1958, 1959, and 1968 NFL Championships before they won their first Super Bowl in 1970. But between 1972 and 1998, the Colts became the laughingstock of the NFL, winning just four division titles, and appearing in just eight playoff games, winning two of them.
Between 1978 and 1986, the Colts failed to record a winning season, bottoming out during the strike-shortened year in 1982 at 0-8-1. They also failed to post double-digit wins between 1978 and 1998, saved only when Peyton Manning started playing good football in his second season in 1999.
Since then, the Colts have won 10 AFC East/AFC South titles, played in two Super Bowls and won one of them, AND became one of the AFC’s most formidable teams between 1999 and 2010. The Colts even saw some success during the post Peyton Manning era, and they hope Anthony Richardson can bring them similar memories.