No. 43: Arizona Cardinals

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 11:44 AM ET
By Eddie Matz | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 71
Title track: 69
Ownership: 69
Coaching: 36
Players: 47
Fan relations: 55
Affordability: 47
Stadium experience: 39
Bang for the buck: 36

Bird watchers gave their team higher marks in every category, helping the Cardinals jump 28 spots overall from last year's rankings. Despite a plus-26 change in ownership, the front office still gets mixed reviews (ownership: 69). On the one hand, fans are thrilled that the club locked up all-everything wideout Larry Fitzgerald (the league's highest-paid receiver at eight years/120 mil) and stud DE Calais Campbell (eight sacks and three blocked FGs in 2011), drafted Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson (his four punt-return TDs tied an NFL record) and signed local product Todd Heap (Mountain View High/ASU). On the other hand, they were nonplussed that management gave up a Pro Bowler (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) and a second-round pick for unproven QB Kevin Kolb, who ended up missing seven games because of injury. Fans appreciate that beloved coach Ken Whisenhunt (coaching: 36) was still able to guide the Cards to an 8-8 record despite the issues under center. It was the fourth time in five seasons that the Whis kids finished .500 or better, the franchise's most successful five-year run since 1949.