NFL 3-0 teams hoping hot start equals playoffs and title

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX troph...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

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 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.

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 2011 playoff teams, 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. Eighty-two 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.

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.

Follow Jerry @StatsonTapp

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