Greatness has been few and far between for one of the league's oldest franchises
There are only two teams remaining in the NFL since its founding in 1920, the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals. The Bears survived the early woes of the league to become an institution in the Windy City and have won nine championships in five different decades.
The Cardinals also were founded in Chicago but had to relocate to St. Louis and the Phoenix area (specifically Glendale, Arizona) for financial reasons. Unlike the Bears, their success has been futile and somewhat controversial. Nevertheless, here are the 10 best Cardinals teams ever.
10. 1925 Chicago Cardinals
Finished: Beat Hammond Pros 13-0 in final regular-season game
Regular Season Record: 11-2-1
The Cardinals won the first of their two NFL championships in the fledgling early days of the league. However, they won it under controversial circumstances. Since the championship was awarded based on win-loss percentage, Chicago played a Milwaukee Badgers team that included high school players and won 58-0. The win proved the difference in beating out the 10-2 Pottsville Maroons for the league title. When NFL president Joseph Carr found out the, he fined Cardinals owner Chris O’Brien $1,000, ordered Badgers owner Ambrose McGuirk to sell his franchise, and banned Art Folz, the Chicago player who hired the students, from the league for life. Even with the controversy, the Cardinals still claim this championship and refuse to give it to the Maroons.
9. 2014 Arizona Cardinals
Finished: Lost to Carolina Panthers 27-16 in the Wild Card Round
Regular Season Record: 11-5
Arizona started the season 9-1 but lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton to season-ending knee injuries and limped into the playoffs as a wild-card team with third-stringer Ryan Lindley. To add insult to injury, the Cardinals had to travel to Charlotte to play a Panthers team that won the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record. There, Lindley threw two picks in the red zone in a losing effort.
8. 1998 Arizona Cardinals
Finished: Lost to Minnesota Vikings 41-21 in Divisional Playoff Round
Regular Season Record: 9-7
The Cardinals were 6-7 after 13 games but rallied to win their three final games by a total of eight points to earn the sixth seed in the playoffs. They then won their first postseason game since 1947 by shocking the Dallas Cowboys with a 20-7 upset at Texas Stadium before falling to Minnesota the next week.
7. 1974 St. Louis Cardinals
Finished: Lost to Minnesota Vikings 30-14 in Divisional Playoff Round
Regular Season Record: 10-4
Don Coryell debuted his revolutionary "Air Coryell" offense as head coach of St. Louis. The potential was realized in 1974 when Cardinals quarterback Jim Hart led the NFC in touchdown passes and the team won its first division title since '48.
6. 2009 Arizona Cardinals
Finished: Lost to New Orleans Saints 45-14 in the Divisional Playoff Round
Regular Season Record: 10-6
After winning their second straight divisional title, the Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers 51-45 in overtime in the highest-scoring playoff game ever. The dramatic run ended the next week against a Super Bowl-bound Saints team.
5. 1975 St. Louis Cardinals
Finished: Lost to Los Angeles Rams 35-23 in the Divisional Playoff Round
Regular Season Record: 11-3
The 1975 squad was nicknamed the "Cardiac Cards" because seven of their 11 wins were decided in the final minute of play. Along the way, running back Terry Metcalf recorded his second straight season of 2,000 all-purpose yards.
4. 2015 Arizona Cardinals
Finished: Lost to Carolina Panthers 49-15 in NFC Championship Game
Regular Season Record: 13-3
Palmer remained healthy and Arizona recorded its first 13-win season and first-round bye in franchise history. Unfortunately, the Cardinals were no match for Cam Newton and a 15-1 Panthers team.
3. 1948 Chicago Cardinals
Finished: Lost to Philadelphia Eagles 7-0 in NFL Championship
Regular Season Record: 11-1
The defending champion improved on the previous season, averaging 32.9 points a game, the second-most ever in a 12-game season. But the Cardinals quest for a second straight title came up short in a snowstorm in Philadelphia, where they lost to the Eagles in the NFL Championship.
2. 2008 Arizona Cardinals
Finished: Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII
Regular Season Record: 9-7
The Cardinals' 9-7 record was enough to win the NFC West and make an epic run. Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, who was playing his best football in years, Arizona won three straight playoff games to make its first Super Bowl, where it lost on a late-game touchdown pass in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.
1. 1947 Chicago Cardinals
Finished: Beat Philadelphia Eagles 28-21 in the NFL Championship
Regular Season Record: 9-3
The last Cardinals team (pictured above) to win a league title sported the "Million Dollar Backfield" of Elmer Angsman, Charley Trippi, Paul Christman, and Pat Harder. They were given that name because of the high amount of money Cardinals owner Charles Bidwell paid for the players. The move paid off, as Chicago never trailed the Eagles on its way to winning the NFL title.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.