Two moments in 2008 taught me not to roll my eyes when a coach expresses what appears to be misguided optimism.
The first came between Weeks 3 and 4 of the Cardinals season. They had just lost to a mediocre Washington team, and with a game against the Jets in New Jersey next up, the Cardinals stayed in Virginia rather than return home between games.
At the team's hotel, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt told beat writers that the week away from home would be good preparation for a Super Bowl.
I suppressed a smirk. That idea seemed like a coach's fever dream since the Cardinals were coming off an unimpressive performance and hadn't finished with a winning record for a decade.
My second learning moment came two months or so later, as the Cardinals hovered around .500. We just need to get in the playoffs, Whisenhunt told us, because anything could happen there.
Another eye roll. Another suppressed smirk.
But Whisenhunt was right. The Cardinals finished 9-7, won the NFC West and played the best they had all season in postseason victories over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia. They received some help, too, when the Eagles (9-6-1) upset the Giants, which meant the NFC Championship game would be played in Arizona.
The Cardinals won, advanced to the Super Bowl and made Whisenhunt look like a prophet.
My point, and I realize it's taken me 200 or so words to arrive at one, is that what the Diamondbacks are doing now reminds me of the 2008 Cardinals.
Both finished the regular season a smidge over .500. Neither was given much of a chance in the postseason, although no one proclaimed the Diamondbacks the worst team ever to make the playoffs, as Cris Collinsworth said of the Cardinals in 2008.
Both teams were/are fairly young and had/are having immense fun along the way.
"We're trying to be like Beyonce and put a ring on it," Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby said in 2009, the week before the Super Bowl.
And they nearly did, losing in the final minutes to the Steelers.
The Diamondbacks have been quotable, too. Manager Torey Lovullo's "Let's (expletive) party" speech after the series win over Milwaukee has become a mantra and is widely available on T-shirts.
It's hard to say which playoff run was more unexpected, partially because the Diamondbacks story has not concluded.
The Cardinals 2008 run to the Super Bowl was epic. So is the one the 2023 Diamondbacks are making. Let's hope the ending is different.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
The Dolphins have 2,568 total yards of offense, the most in NFL history after five games. The previous "record" was held by the 1999 Rams (2,527).
Asked about that, Dolphins Coach Mike McDaniel replied: "Mission accomplished.
"The whole offseason, that was our goal. Output after five games."
PURPLE AND BLACK
The NFL values its rivalries, which is one reason Dallas remains in the NFC East instead of a more geographically logical division.
And there is little doubt the best rivalry is between Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Their games tend to be violent and close. From 2007, coach Mike Tomlin's first year in Pittsburgh, through 2022, each team had scored 719 points.
Last week's game in Pittsburgh, a 17-10 Steelers victory that wasn't secured until the last play, was the 34th time Mike Tomlin's Steelers have played John Harbaugh's Ravens. Tomlin has the advantage, 20-14.
The only coaches who faced each other more in NFL history were the Bears' George Halas and Curly Lambeau, who coached the Packers, Cardinals and Washington. Their teams met 49 games.
"I'm appreciative of the Ravens, man," Tomlin said a couple of years ago. "It takes two to tango, and they bring the best out of us."
LONDON'S CALLING. AND FRANKFURT TOO
The NFL started its "International Series" in 2007, and at the end of this season will have played 38 games in London, four in Mexico City and two in Frankfurt, Germany.
Tennessee and Baltimore play Sunday in the last of three NFL games in London. On Nov. 5, the Chiefs and Dolphins will play in Frankfurt, with the Colts and Patriots playing there the following week.
(To German fans: You're welcome for the Chiefs and Dolphins game. Our apologies for Patriots-Colts).
Commissioner Roger Goodell is a huge believer in continuing to take the NFL product to new places, and it's conceivable that one day every team will play an international game every season.
That makes some sense, given the expansion to a 17-game schedule, which gives teams an unequal amount of home games. And such an arrangement is more logical than locating a franchise in London or Frankfurt, which would present all kinds of logistical problems.
NFL rosters churn constantly, and it would be a nightmare trying to move players in and out of, say, London, Frankfurt or Barcelona.
ARRIVE EARLY OR FASHIONABLY LATE?
Despite the long history of playing abroad, there is no consensus among organizations about the best way to approach preparing. Travel early and spend a week getting acclimated to the time change and surroundings? Or minimize possible distractions by arriving just a few days before the game?
Both have worked. Both have failed.
In 2017, the Cardinals spent most of the week in London, and then played one of their worst games in some time, losing to the Rams, 33-0.
A few weeks earlier that same year, the Ravens arrived in London on a Thursday night and three days later played one of their worst games under Harbaugh, losing to the Jaguars 44-7.
The Ravens are taking a different approach this week and arrived six days early for their game against the Titans.
"It's mostly driven by the fact that we didn't do well, so we did the opposite," Harbaugh said.
The Titans aren't arriving until Thursday night. That's the schedule they used when traveling to London in 2018. They lost to the Chargers after a two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds failed.
"I've talked to a lot of people who have done it both ways," coach Mike Vrabel said. "That's how we did it the last time, and I felt we were ready to go. It just didn't end the way we wanted it to."
Not all NFL employs are thrilled with the idea of more international games. I haven't taken a poll, but my guess is that equipment managers and athletic training staffs cringe at the idea of relocating for even a few days. It's a monumental task to move 69 players, equipment and support staff to a location out of the country.