Are Houston Texans the Best 4-0 Team of Last 5 Years?

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Are Houston Texans the Best 4-0 Team of Last 5 Years?
Bob Levey/Getty Images

In manhandling the Tennessee Titans 38-14 Sunday, the Houston Texans became the 12th NFL team in the past five years to start a season 4-0.

The Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals also joined the ranks after Sunday.

Where does this Texans team stack up amongst the 4-0 teams since 2008? And what came of each 4-0 team's season? 

Here's a quick look: 

 

2012 Houston Texans

The Texans have wins against the Miami Dolphins (1-3), Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3), Denver Broncos (2-2) and Tennessee Titans (1-3). The average win margin in those four games is over two touchdowns at 15.0 points. Houston is the second-highest scoring offense and top scoring defense. Matt Schaub is a candidate for NFL MVP, and J.J. Watt is the front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year.

 

2012 Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have beat the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Matt Ryan is a leading MVP candidate through four games, and no team in the NFL has a better turnover margin than Atlanta's +10. 

 

2012 Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have beat the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins to start 0-4. Arizona ranks in the top 15 of the NFL in only opponent rushing yards a game, but this team has made its money in 2012 on defense. Kevin Kolb has lead three game-winning drives.

 

2011 Green Bay Packers 

The Packers beat the New Orleans Saints, Panthers, Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos to begin the path towards a 15-1 season. In the postseason, Green Bay became the first 15-1 team to lose a divisional round game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the NFL MVP, but the pass defense ranked 32nd and gave up more yards than any defense in NFL history.

 

2011 Detroit Lions

The Lions beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings (overtime) and Dallas Cowboys. Matthew Stafford would throw for over 5,000 yards, and the Lions (10-6) made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. The Saints knocked out Detroit out of the playoffs during the Wild Card round. 

 

2009 Indianapolis Colts

The Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks to start 4-0. The season would finish 14-2 after a 14-0 start, and the Colts would later advance to the Super Bowl. New Orleans beat Peyton Manning's Colts to win Super Bowl XLIV

 

2009 New York Giants

The Giants beat the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Buccaneers and Chiefs to start 4-0. However, Tom Coughlin's Giants would then lose four in a row before finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. 

 

2009 Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings beat the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers to start 4-0. Minnesota would go on to begin 6-0 and finish 12-4. Brett Favre's first season with the Vikings would not end well, however, as Minnesota fell to the Saints in the NFC title game after Favre's pick sent the game to overtime. 

 

2009 New Orleans Saints

The Saints beat the Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets to start 4-0. New Orleans wouldn't lose until Week 15, but the Saints finished a somewhat disappointing 13-3. However, a three-game losing streak didn't stop the Saints from going all the way to the Super Bowl, where Drew Brees helped New Orleans win its first ever championship. 

 

2008 Tennessee Titans

The Titans beat Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Texans and Vikings to start 4-0. Tennessee would end up as the last undefeated team in 2008, winning its first 10 games. A 13-3 season came crashing down in the divisional round, where the Baltimore Ravens upset the Titans. 

 

2008 Buffalo Bills

The Bills beat the Seattle Seahawks, Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams to start 4-0. Unfortunately for Buffalo, only three wins over the next 12 games would follow. The Bills finished 7-9 and missed out on the playoffs. 

 

2008 New York Giants

The Giants beat the Redskins, Rams, Bengals and Seahawks to start 4-0. An 11-1 start was later halted by a 1-4 finish, including a divisional round upset loss to the Eagles. 

 

Verdict

The Texans certainly have a case in this discussion. No team on this list has a better average winning margin through four games than Houston's 15.0, though the level of competition is decidedly below average for Houston.

The kind of balance the Texans possess from a passing and rushing standpoint on both sides of the ball is the most remarkable part about this team. Possibly no team on the above list could match the Texans' all-around balance. 

Houston is able to adapt to any team in the NFL whether it's a spread offense or blitzing defense. That kind of versatility makes Houston a tough team to contend with on a week-to-week basis. Barring injury, a 13-3 season is well within this team's reach.  

While there's no way to accurately name who's the best of the 4-0 teams without actually seeing them play head-to-head, the Texans would appear to match up well against any of the previous nine teams and 2012 Falcons. 

But one thing to keep in mind: Only twice in the last five years has a 4-0 team reached the Super Bowl. There have been a lot of flameouts late in the season, which lends credence to the idea that it's not necessarily about how you start; it's about how you finish. 

The Texans will care less about a 4-0 start by February of 2013, just as long as there's at least a 3-0 finish.

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