When the Houston Texans came into the league in 2002, everyone thought they had a winner. Opening the season against the Dallas Cowboys, there’s no way an expansion team could knock off a team like Dallas. So when the Texans, who were an 8 point underdog, did the "impossible", many who were enrolled in a "survivor" pool were sent packing.
Surely, it couldn’t happen two years in a row, could it?
In 2003 the Texans, who won 5 games in their inaugural season, opened up against Miami. This time they were on the road. Unlike the Cowboys from the previous year, the Dolphins were a nine win team with playoff appearances in the two years before that. Miami was a 13 point favorite, and it seemed there was no way Houston could open the season with another victory as a fresh expansion team.
Once again, nine out of ten people were knocked out of their survivor pool when the Texans did it again. Not only did Houston cover the 13 point spread, they beat Miami outright.
This past weekend it's widely assumed that many people selected either Green Bay or San Francisco in their survivor pool. Those who took the Packers are alive, thanks in part to Kevin Kolb’s ineffectiveness. Those who took the 49ers were shocked.
For those still alive in the survivor pool, you might live to pick another week if you choose the Saints to beat the 49ers outright. For those going down to the local fire company and promising the bar tender the Saints will win by a touchdown, that might be a different story.
Nobody needs to be reminded the Saints were the Super Bowl winners. I don’t need to remind anybody the 49ers lost handily up in Seattle last week. However I should remind the obvious: those things happened in the past. If history is any indication, Monday Night could be a different story.
It's only natural. Super Bowl winners have a target on their back. The best teams always do.
Even the New England Patriots took a down turn in 2008 after the first 10 games. Sure they went 18-0 prior to the Super Bowl, but the final 9 games were much, much closer than the first 10 games. It‘s only natural.
Going back to 1988, the personal cut-off for when I can vividly remember just about anything about this wild world of sports, one thing that was always consistent was what Super Bowl winners would do, or I should say wouldn’t do, in the beginning of the following season.
There was no need to dig deep, but rather just scratch the surface to find that only two teams, the 2008 New York Giants and the 2002 New England Patriots, have started 2-0 against the line since 1988. Do the 2008 New York Giants even count? Shouldn’t it have been New England (who barely beat Kansas City in week 1 of 2008 to keep up with the trend)? Keep that in mind, or use it as a means to explain yourself to any critics who might make fun of your decision to plan on the 49ers keeping this one close.
After all, those who took the expansion Houston Texans in 2002 and 2003 in their survivor pool were the only ones laughing after week 1.