Heading into the 1995 NFL season, a sense of excitement and optimism encompassed the Arizona Cardinals.
The team was coming off an 8-8 season, the best since relocating to Arizona via St. Louis in 1988. Although the Cards narrowly missed the playoffs in 1994, there was a hope among fans that the following season would be even better -- that a franchise synonymous with losing was finally about to turn a corner.
Instead, the 1995 Cardinals crumbled under the weight of heightened expectations.
They finished a disappointing 4-12, capped by an embarrassing home loss to the Cowboys on the season finale of Monday Night Football. They were led by 36-year-old quarterback Dave Krieg, a three-time Pro Bowler whose best days were behind him.
Stop me if any of this is sounding familiar.
Heading into the 2016 season, a sense of excitement and optimism encompassed the Cardinals.
The team was coming off a 13-3 season, the best in franchise history. Although they narrowly missed the Super Bowl in 2015, there was a hope among fans that the following season would be even better -- that a franchise once synonymous with losing was finally about to bring a championship to the Valley.
Instead, this year's Cards appear to be crumbling under the weight of heightened expectations.
They're a disappointing 1-3, putting them on pace for a 4-12 season. They opened the season with an embarrassing home loss to an injury-plagued Patriots team on the season premiere of Sunday Night Football. They're led by 36-year-old quarterback Carson Palmer, a three-time Pro Bowler whose best days seem to be behind him.
The 1995 Cardinals were coached by Buddy Ryan, who was fired at the end of the season. This year's Cardinals were blown out by Buddy's son in Buffalo less than two weeks ago.
It's not too late for the 2016 Cardinals to meet expectations, beginning Thursday night at the 49ers. But a defeat in San Francisco would only add to the feeling among Valley football fans that this is 1995 all over again.