99 Stats Until Kickoff: (No. 10) Does a 3-0 Start Equal Playoffs?

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99 Stats Until Kickoff: (No. 10) Does a 3-0 Start Equal Playoffs?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

From May 30 and every day until September 5—the start of the 2013 NFL season—Sports Stats "on Tapp" will publish “99 Stats Until Kickoff” a daily dose of NFL stats that will get you ready for the 2013 NFL season.

 

Three teams—the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans—were the only unbeaten teams after three weeks of the 2012 season. For each of these three, a 3-0 start has been rare.

Atlanta: The Falcons were 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. Ironically, this year’s 3-0 start (which later became an 8-0 start) led to another NFC South title and another loss in the NFC Championship Game, this time to the 49ers.

Arizona: This was Arizona’s first 3-0 start since 1974. The Cardinals that year went 7-0 to start the season and eventually won the NFC East. They lost their first-round playoff game to the Vikings. In 2012, the Cardinals would win only two of their remaining 13 games on the way to a 5-11 record.

Houston: This was the first 3-0 start in franchise history.

In 2011, 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.

Of the 12 2012 playoff teams, two (Atlanta and Houston) started the season 3-0, five were 2-1 in their first three games and five teams (Indianapolis, Washington, Denver, New England and Green Bay) started the year 1-2.

Taking a look at the 94 Super Bowl teams, a 3-0 or 2-1 start has been most common of the title game opponents (this past year’s Super Bowl opponents were both 2-1 after Week 3). Eighty-four of the 94 Super Bowl teams were either 3-0 or 2-1 to start that season (89.4 percent). If you add in the two teams that started 2-0-1, then 86 of the 94 (91.5 percent) Super Bowl teams were either 3-0, 2-0-1 or 2-1 in the first three games in their Super Bowl year.

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: 36 teams (19 won the Super Bowl; 17 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 was the New York Giants in the 2007 season.

 

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