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Oh, the things a 3-0 start will make a man research.

The Arizona Cardinals are off to such a start (for the first time in 38 years) and the performance of their defense has the rest of the league talking.

So, in the Arizona Sports newsroom, I asked the question, "when I ask what team is synonymous with defense in the National Football League, who comes to mind?"

The two respondents directly within earshot mentioned the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers. Guess what's coming next? That's right, a comparison between the defenses of the Cardinals, Ravens, Steelers and 49ers over the last 12 games for each team, of course. Keep in mind that Baltimore, Pittsburgh and San Francisco all have postseason games in the mix.

The Cardinals' biggest strength during their remarkable 12-game stretch has been their ability to keep the opponent out of the end zone. They haven't yielded more than two offensive touchdowns in any one game, while the other three teams have all allowed four touchdowns in a game at least once.

Their other strength has been the pass rush. Despite not having a household name getting after the opposing quarterback, the Cardinals have out-sacked the three other fearsome defensive units they're being compared to. Twelve different Arizona players have recorded sacks during the 12 games, with no one player having more than seven (Calais Campbell).

By no means does this illustrate that the Cardinals are now the premier defense in the National Football League, but they're up there with the big boys. And that is significant for a team trying to get back into playoff contention after a two-year absence.

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