Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells had a famous saying for when he was asked about how well or how poorly a team is playing.
"You are what your record says you are," Parcells would say.
It rings true for both the Cardinals and the Bengals, each of whom have a 1-3 record when Cincinnati visits State Farm Stadium Sunday, When asked if Parcells' quote is a fair assessment of the Cardinals, coach Jonathan Gannon was clear.
"I do," he said.
Yes, they have only won once, yet the Cardinals might've been 3-1 if the team minimized penalties or turnovers in the Commanders season opening game, and if the squad didn't get complacent in the second half of the Giants game.
Hindsight is 20/20, but statistically speaking, the Cardinals haven't played like a 1-3 team this season.
Offensively, they're second in the league in yards per play (5.27) and are in the upper half of the league when it comes to total yards and first downs per game. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs also hasn't thrown an interception.
On Sunday, both teams are working for a victory, but regardless of the outcome, the Cardinals are building something. It's evident that this team has bought into the new regime anchored by Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort.
"If you're in this building, our minds are aligned," wide receiver Hollywood Brown said. "We're working together, and going forward, we want to win for them, and they want to win for us. It's a cohesive thing."
The Cardinals long-term goal is to be where the Bengals have been the previous two seasons, winning divisional championships and competing late into January.
The current Bengals team doesn't remotely resemble the one from previous seasons. Included in the Bengals struggles have been their run defense, which is 31st in the NFL having given up 157 yards per game.
Expectations were high with the roster stacked and quarterback Joe Burrow signing a major extension in the offseason. But the Bengals have struggled mightily, in large part because of Burrow's calf injury.
Even though he might not be fully healthy, Burrow is dangerous, and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis has delivered that message.
"They're going to bring it no matter what, this is a good offense," Rallis said. "Whether or not they feel like they played their best, I'm sure they feel like they have more in the tank. You got to expect that that's what you're going to get every Sunday. So, we're preparing for a really good offense right now. That's without a question."
If the Cardinals are able to earn their second victory of the season and knock off another 2022 playoff team, that'll bode well for the team morale. For Cincinnati, Burrow said that Sunday's game is a "must-win" for the Bengals.
"Whatever it takes," Burrow said. "It doesn't have to be pretty, but got to come out with a W."
Because, of course, you are what your record says you are.
"The team knows this team has been in the championship two years in a row and the Super Bowl," Gannon said. "They got big time skill, and in a good scheme with a lot of weapons around, so I know the record is what you say it is, but they're a very dangerous football team. I know that."