Three teams—Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans—are the only unbeatens as the NFL gets ready for Week 4. For each of these three, a 3-0 start has been rare.
Atlanta: The Falcons are 3-0 for the first time since 2004, when they started the season 4-0. Atlanta won the NFC South that season and went on to lose to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
Arizona: This is Arizona’s first 3-0 start since 1974. The Cardinals went 7-0 to start the season that year and eventually won the NFC East. They lost their first-round playoff game to the Vikings.
Houston: This is the first 3-0 start in franchise history.
Last season, three teams started 3-0: Buffalo, Detroit and Green Bay. Both the Lions and Packers ended up in the playoffs, while the Bills faltered to a 6-10 season.
Of the 12 playoff teams in 2011, two (Detroit and Green Bay) started the season 3-0, seven were 2-1 in their first three games, and three teams (Cincinnati, Denver and Atlanta) started the year 1-2.
Taking a look at the 92 Super Bowl teams, a 3-0 or 2-1 start has been most common of the title game opponents. 82 of the 92 Super Bowl teams were either 3-0 or 2-1 to start that season, (89.1 percent). If you add in the two teams that started 2-0-1, then 84 of the 92 (91.3 percent) Super Bowl teams were either 3-0, 2-0-1 or 2-1 in the first three games in their Super Bowl year.
Which of the three unbeaten teams is most likely to reach the Super Bowl?
Here’s a breakdown of the record of the Super Bowl teams after Week 3 of that season.
Record after three games, Super Bowl teams
3-0: 48 teams (22 won the Super Bowl; 26 lost the Super Bowl)
2-0-1: 2 teams (one won the Super Bowl; one lost the Super Bowl)
2-1: 34 teams (18 won the Super Bowl; 16 lost the Super Bowl)
1-1-1: 3 teams (one won the Super Bowl; two lost the Super Bowl)
1-2: 5 teams (four won the Super Bowl; one lost the Super Bowl)
Note: The last team to win the Super Bowl after starting the season 1-2 were the New York Giants in the 2007 season.
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