These two franchises have met 30 times and the record is dead-even at 15 wins apiece. Their first meeting came in 1967 when the Cardinals were still in St. Louis. They won plus the next two. In fact, while in St. Louis the Cardinals led the series 10-5.
Things started to turn when the franchise relocated to Phoenix. The Saints would win four straight and would go 10-5 evening the record to 15-15. Since that four-game streak, neither team has dominated. They have alternated wins and losses save for the playoff win by New Orleans in 2010.
That playoff game was one of the most contentious and was in the middle of the infamous "Bounty Scandal." Several New Orleans players and coaches were suspended due to the staff rewarding dirty hits including one that retired Cardinals' quarterback and Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.
Though they've been even in recent meetings, the state of the teams could mean a return to dominance for New Orleans. They are still at their prime and looking to win a Super Bowl while Arizona will struggle to get a winning record. But the future could look very different especially if the Cardinals' prospects pan out while New Orleans regresses.
Arizona Cardinals Recent History
As the oldest NFL franchise, the Cardinals have also been one of the most-losingest franchises. In almost a hundred years of existence, the Cardinals only have two championships, seven division titles, ten playoff berths, and one Super Bowl appearance.
And most of these came within the last few years. In 2008, the Cardinals had a Cinderella run to the Super Bowl led by Warner and all-time great receiver Larry Fitzgerald. While they fell short, it started the Cardinals' rise to relevance. Hiring Bruce Arians in 2013 started what would be the franchise's best run.
From 2013 to 2015, the Cardinals won 34 of 48 games including a division title and a franchise-best 13-3 season in 2015. But it was short-lived as injuries and the lack of a good quarterback doomed the Cardinals to a mediocre record. With Arians gone, the Cardinals are retrogressing although they have some young talent to give fans some hope.
New Orleans Recent History
Like Arizona, New Orleans has spent most of its lifespan as a losing franchise. It took the team 20 years to register a winning record and a playoff appearance and 33 to win a playoff game. People born in the 1960s spent a third of their life cheering for a tragic team. But thankfully that is ancient history.
The Saints have turned a corner thanks mostly to the arrival of head coach Sean Payton and Brees. The coach-quarterback tandem is second only to Bill Bellichick and Tom Brady. They led New Orleans to their first and only Super Bowl title in 2009 along with six seasons with at least 10 wins, double what the franchise had in its first 39 seasons.
New Orleans figures to remain a top contender in the NFC even if Brees is already 39. The influx of elite playmakers they received on both offence and defence has reenergized the franchise.
Arizona Cardinals Outlook
Arizona has plenty of star power. They have Patrick Peterson (CB) and Chandler Jones (DE) anchoring the passing defence from both ends and Fitzgerald and David Johnson (RB) pumping the offence. But beyond their household names, they don't have much else.
The Cardinals have plenty to fix and it would take at least two more offseasons to build a reliable team for the long-term. Their offensive line is soft, the linebackers are stretched out thin, and they need help on special teams. And this is assuming that Rosen can turn out to be a solid quarterback.
But with all the weapons on offence, all Rosen needs is better pass protection and he could light up weaker defences. Johnson is an all-world running back and will change the offence if he's healthy. Fitzgerald is turning 35 but might still have a few years left. Arizona may not be great right now but they'll be entertaining.
New Orleans Saints Outlook
They aren't your older brother's Saints but they are just as talented if not more. The Saints won a Super Bowl thanks mostly to Brees's herculean efforts but also a defence that made clutch plays. Think of that team plus a better running game and an even better defence and that's the Saints of today.
Alvin Kamara (RB) and Marshon Lattimore (CB) are just two studs who helped shore up the Saints. This is one of the NFL's best teams from top to bottom. If they have any weaknesses, it's their run blocking and linebackers but it's almost nitpicking.
The Saints didn't need to add much in the offseason though they added depth to their offence and pass rush. This team could be adding a second Lombard trophy and it's not crazy to think they could win more than one.
The sexy narrative here would be the all-time great quarterback in Brees going against the new hotshot quarterback in Rosen. But it's likely that Brees starts against Bradford and Rosen comes in when the second units are on the turf.
Rosen would benefit going against the Saints' backups as their starters would give him a run for his money. The Cardinals' offensive line is shabby as is their back seven. They will have a hard time getting their passing game going at the same time stopping the Saints.
If there is an area the Cardinals can exploit, it's the Saints' run defence. Johnson can push the Cardinals over the Saints if he plays but if he doesn't, the Cardinals' running game drops steeply. The Saints meanwhile have a deep roster and should be competitive no matter what unit rolls.
Rosen might have his moments but it should be for nought. Saints win comfortably.