Normally when people talk about an NFL turnaround, they mean from season to season. This team went from 3-13 to 13-3 in just one year.
Those turnarounds are undoubtedly impressive, but not enough credit is given to those teams who are able to overcome bad starts in the middle of a year to finish strong. Nothing is more satisfying than having everybody thinking you’re done and then rising from the grave to snatch glory away from somebody else. That’s what makes sports competition so great.
This year of 2018 seems to be experiencing a rare event in which several teams who got off to terrible starts are suddenly in the thick of the playoff chase and some even on the cusp of division titles. This raised an interesting question. Looking across the breadth of NFL history, what has been the greatest turnaround in the history of each franchise?
Time for a fun trip down memory lane!
Arizona Cardinals: 1998
Few franchises have gone through longer periods of irrelevance than the Arizona Cardinals. They were in the midst of a big one through the 1980s and most of the 1990s. Nobody expected anything different from them in 1998. The team hadn’t made the playoffs since 1982 and hadn’t had a winning record since 1984. It was truly the bottom class of the NFL and the season started out like any other with them going 3-4 into their bye, capped by a 34-7 loss to the Giants.
The pivotal point of their season came out of the break with them winning three of their next four games by a combined total of eight points. They lost their next two before finishing in heart-stopping fashion with three straight wins by three, two, and three points respectively to claim a record of 9-7, making the playoffs in the unlikeliest of fashions.
How did they celebrate? They beat the mighty Cowboys in Dallas 20-7, one of the great upsets in NFL playoff history.