5 - 2001 New England Patriots
And finally, we got the 2001 New England Patriots, who finished a meager 5-11 in 2000. This team started off the 2001 season 0-2, and had no hope when some unknown second-year quarterback named Tom Brady took the reins and led the Pats to an 11-5 record and a division championship.
That alone was enough for a feel-good story, but Brady wasn’t finished, as he upset the Raiders following one of the most controversial moments in league history and still is to this day. Brady and the Pats then defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship, and not long after, he won his first of seven Super Bowls (six with New England). Yeah, this was more than just a feel-good story-it kicked off arguably the most dominant era in NFL history.
While I realistically don’t see the Arizona Cardinals making such waves as the five aforementioned teams, it’s always fun to speculate, and as the old adage goes, never say never. Maybe the Cards will work some magic this season and surprise all of us, even if it doesn’t involve making a Super Bowl run.
(Historical data provided by Pro-Football-Reference)