The Arizona Cardinals franchise has been around for 117 years, and yet the 203 points the Cardinals have scored to start the 2015 campaign is a new team record for the first six weeks of a season.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Baltimore Ravens have been around for only 20 years, but their 1-5 record is a new franchise low at the six-game mark.
It's enough to cause you to wonder if the script is being flipped for a Cardinals team that hasn't won a championship since it played in Chicago in 1947 and for a Ravens team that has been lucky enough to win two Super Bowls and 15 playoff games in less than two decades.
If indeed that's the case, Arizona should have a distinct edge when the two meet in Arizona for the first time in 12 years Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Using numbers to tell the story, here's what to expect in the first-ever prime-time clash between the Ravens (1-5) and Cardinals (4-2).
1. When it comes to the margin, something has to give
- Key stat: The Cardinals have won four games by 12 or more points and have played in just one game that was decided by fewer than that margin. Meanwhile, all five of Baltimore's losses have come by six or fewer points, with its only victory coming by a field goal.
In fact, the Cardinals have won three games by 25 or more points, which is amazing considering no other team in football has accomplished that feat more than once. And Baltimore is the only team in football that has had all of its games decided by six points or fewer.
|Margin of victory|
|Ranking||Most 25-point wins||Most 6-point margins|
|1||Cardinals (3)||Ravens (6)|
|2||Seven teams (1)||Three teams (4)|
|3||Everyone else (0)||Nine teams (3)|
The Ravens just don't get blown out, so it'll be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle things in the event of a close game Monday night. After all, they lost their only close game so far this year (24-22 at the hands of the Rams in Week 4) and they let a winnable game slip away against the Steelers last week, losing 25-13 after being outscored 22-3 in the second half.
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has thrown only 18 passes in the fourth quarters of one-score games this season, while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco -- who is no stranger to high-pressure moments -- has thrown a league-high 68 passes in those spots.
Unfortunately for Flacco, his numbers in crunch time have not been pretty.
|Lowest-rated passers in the fourth quarter of one-score games|
2. Not what it used to be
- Key stat: The Ravens defense has surrendered 27.0 points per game, which ranks 27th in football.
Boy does Baltimore miss Terrell Suggs, Pernell McPhee and Haloti Ngata. This D, which between 2008 and 2014 gave up the lowest points total in football, now ranks in the bottom 10 in terms of points allowed, yards allowed and takeaways.
Entering Week 7, only the Jaguars and Cowboys had forced fewer turnovers, which is crazy when you consider that they've had some relatively easy matchups with Oakland, Cleveland, San Francisco and a Pittsburgh team missing star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
No wonder they're a big underdog against an Arizona team that entered Week 7 with a league-high 203 points.
3. For Baltimore, Arizona's secondary is the primary issue
- Key stat: The Cardinals defense has the league's best total DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) when defending against starting receivers and tight ends.
According to Football Outsiders, they rank fourth against No. 1 receivers, third against No. 2 receivers and first against tight ends, with a combined DVOA of minus-139.9 percent (it's like an X-ray, negative is good).
When covering players at those positions, they're surrendering just 128.1 yards per game, which is the second-lowest total in football behind only the Jets. As a result, they rank fifth in the league in terms of yards per passing attempt allowed (6.5) and fourth in terms of opposing passer rating (72.3).
|Top DVOA rates vs. top receivers, 2015|
|Defense||vs. No. 1 WRs||vs. No. 2 WRs||vs. TEs||Total|
|Source: Football Outsiders|
This is all bad news for a Ravens team that has traditionally relied heavily on top target Steve Smith, who is banged up right now. And Baltimore, which has had to use guys like Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Crockett Gillmore as regulars, may lack the depth in the receiving corps to take advantage of the fact the Cards have been vulnerable against No. 3 and No. 4 receivers.
4. Desert heat
- Key stat: Arizona is averaging 6.7 yards per offensive play. No other team in the league is averaging more than 6.4.
It's all about that rejuvenated trio of old men -- 35-year-old quarterback Carson Palmer, 32-year-old wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and 30-year-old running back Chris Johnson, all of whom are on pace to record Pro Bowl-caliber numbers.
Palmer, who entered Week 7 with the league's fifth-highest qualified passer rating (106.9), has already completed a tied-for-league-high seven passes of 40-plus yards. And it's not just about Fitzgerald (who is on pace to record a career-high 1,554 yards), because five different players have been on the receiving end of those deep completions.
On the ground, only seven backs in football have as many 15-yard carries as Johnson, despite the fact the former 2,000-yard rusher has been held to 16 or fewer carries in four of Arizona's six games. Among backs with at least 60 attempts, he ranks sixth in football with a yards-per-attempt average of 4.8.
As a result of all that, Arizona leads the NFL with 32 20-yard plays and nine 40-yard plays, which doesn't bode well for a Baltimore defense that has surrendered a league-high six 50-yard completions.
5. Location, location, location
- Key stat: The last time Baltimore won on the road against a team that finished the season with a winning record was the 2011 season finale, when the Ravens beat the 9-7 Bengals 24-16 in Cincinnati. Since then, they've lost nine consecutive games to road opponents with winning final records.
They've also lost four consecutive games outside of the Eastern and Central time zones, falling in San Francisco in Week 6, Oakland in Week 2, Denver in Week 1 and again in Denver back in 2013. That last loss isn't as relevant, but it's still notable because John Harbaugh was the head coach, which matters because the Ravens have always been a mediocre road team under Harbaugh.
Since he took over in 2008, they're just 28-32 away from M&T Bank Stadium, which is wild when you consider just how good they've been in Baltimore.
|Largest home-field advantages since 2008|
|Ranking||% of wins at home||% of wins on road|
Since the start of the 2013 season, Baltimore is just 7-13 on the road. In the same time frame, Arizona is 15-4 at home.
Prediction: I suppose it's pretty obvious where I'm leaning. Arizona has every possible edge here, so this should be a blowout victory in Glendale.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007. You can also read his work at Bleacher Report, Awful Announcing and This Given Sunday. Follow him on Twitter. Or don't. It's entirely your choice.