The 2012 New York Giants, are the NFL’s first defending champion to lose in week 1 since the 1999 Denver Broncos. Breaking a streak of 12 straight week 1 victories by defending NFL champions.
Defending champions aren’t always guaranteed an opening week victory. A little under one-third of the NFL’s defending champions lost their first game of the season.
Defending NFL Champions That Lost Their First Game of the Season
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|Season||Defending Champion||Opponent||Result||Margin of L||Season W Pct|
|1925||Cleveland Bulldogs||at||Akron Pros||L 7-0||-7||0.393|
|1927||Frankford Yellow Jackets||vs.||Dayton Triangles||L 6-3||-3||0.417|
|1937||Green Bay Packers||vs.||Chicago Cardinals||L 14-7||-7||0.636|
|1944||Chicago Bears||at||Green Bay Packers||L 42-28||-14||0.650|
|1946||Los Angeles Rams||vs.||Philadelphia Eagles||L 25-14||-11||0.591|
|1947||Chicago Bears||at||Green Bay Packers||L 29-20||-9||0.667|
|1950||Philadelphia Eagles||vs.||Cleveland Browns||L 35-10||-25||0.500|
|1951||Cleveland Browns||at||San Francisco 49ers||L 24-10||-14||0.917|
|1952||Los Angeles Rams||at||Cleveland Browns||L 37-7||-30||0.750|
|1955||Cleveland Browns||vs.||Washington Redskins||L 27-17||-10||0.792|
|1956||Cleveland Browns||at||Chicago Cardinals||L 9-7||-2||0.417|
|1957||New York Giants||at||Cleveland Browns||L 6-3||-3||0.583|
|1958||Detroit Lions||at||Baltimore Colts||L 28-15||-13||0.375|
|1963||Green Bay Packers||vs.||Chicago Bears||L 10-3||-7||0.821|
|1964||Chicago Bears||at||Green Bay Packers||L 23-12||-11||0.357|
|1966||Buffalo Bills ¹||at||San Diego Chargers||L 27-7||-20||0.679|
|1969||Baltimore Colts||vs.||Los Angeles Rams||L 27-20||-7||0.607|
|1970||Kansas City Chiefs||at||Minnesota Vikings||L 27-10||-17||0.571|
|1974||Miami Dolphins||at||New England Patriots||L 34-24||-10||0.786|
|1976||Pittsburgh Steelers||at||Oakland Raiders||L 31-28||-3||0.714|
|1981||Oakland Raiders||at||Denver Broncos||L 9-7||-2||0.438|
|1982||San Francisco 49ers||vs.||Los Angeles Raiders||L 23-17||-6||0.333|
|1983||Washington Redskins||vs.||Dallas Cowboys||L 31-30||-1||0.875|
|1985||San Francisco 49ers||at||Minnesota Vikings||L 28-21||-7||0.625|
|1987||New York Giants||at||Chicago Bears||L 34-19||-15||0.400|
|1988||Washington Redskins||at||New York Giants||L 27-20||-7||0.438|
|1992||Washington Redskins||at||Dallas Cowboys||L 23-10||-13||0.563|
|1993||Dallas Cowboys||at||Washington Redskins||L 35-16||-19||0.750|
|1996||Dallas Cowboys||at||Chicago Bears||L 22-6||-16||0.625|
|1999||Denver Broncos||vs.||Miami Dolphins||L 38-21||-17||0.375|
|2012||New York Giants||vs.||Dallas Cowboys||L 24-17||-7||?|
¹ Defending American Football League champion.
The Giants have lost three openers as the defending champion, tied with the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, and Washington Redskins, for the most opening game losses a franchise has suffered as the defending NFL champion.
Most Week 1 Losses as the Defending Champion
|Wk 1 Losses as the Def. Champ||Team||Seasons||Against|
|3||Chicago Bears||1944, 1947, 1964||Packers, Packers, Packers|
|3||Cleveland Browns||1951, 1955, 1956||49ers, Redskins, Cardinals|
|3||New York Giants||1957, 1987, 2012||Browns, Bears, Cowboys|
|3||Washington Redskins||1983, 1988, 1992||Cowboys, Giants, Cowboys|
The Cowboys franchise now has three victories over defending NFL champions in week 1. Tied with the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, and Green Bay Packers for the most week 1 victories over the defending champs.
Looking at just the Super Bowl era, the Cowboys are the only team to beat the defending Super Bowl champions a total of three times in week 1.
Most Week 1 Victories Over the Defending Champions
|Wk 1 Wins Over the Def. Champs||Team||Seasons||Against|
|3||Chicago Bears||1963, 1987, 1996||Packers, Giants, Cowboys|
|3||Cleveland Browns||1950, 1952, 1957||Eagles, Rams, Giants|
|3||Dallas Cowboys||1983, 1992, 2012||Redskins, Redskins, Giants|
|3||Green Bay Packers||1944, 1947, 1964||Bears, Bears, Bears|
Note: The numbers below include AFL and AAFC champions.
- Out of the previous 30 defending champions that lost in week 1, only two (7%) have gone on to win another title (1955 Browns and 1993 Cowboys). Compare that to the 21 defending champions out of 72 (29%) that have won back to back titles after winning in week 1.
- Of the previous 30 teams that have defeated the defending champion in week 1, six have gone on to win league titles themselves. The last team to do so were the 1992 Cowboys. List of them:
|NFL Champion||Defending Champion They Beat in Week 1|
|1944 Green Bay Packers||Defeated the Chicago Bears 42-28|
|1950 Cleveland Browns||Defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 35-10|
|1958 Baltimore Colts||Defeated the Detroit Lions 28-15|
|1963 Chicago Bears||Defeated the Green Bay Packers 10-3|
|1976 Oakland Raiders||Defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-28|
|1992 Dallas Cowboys||Defeated the Washington Redskins 23-10|
- Defending champions that lost in week 1 go on to have an average winning percentage of .588. While defending champions that won in week 1, go on to have an average winning percentage of .736.
- Defending champions have an all-time record of 72-31-2 in the opening game of their seasons.
Source: Game results retrieved from Pro-Football-Reference.com.