Oct 082012

With the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans enjoying their best ever starts, I thought it would be an appropriate time to review each NFL franchise’s best ever start to a season.

Each NFL Franchise’s Best Start to a Season

Note: Only undefeated/untied records were used to determine a franchise’s best start to a season.

The (city/nickname) in the parenthesis was the franchise’s city/nickname during their best start.

Click here for a list of each NFL franchise’s worst start to a season.

Columns can be sorted by clicking on the titles in the header. You can search for a specific team or season using the search box to the right.

FranchiseBest StartWhenReg. SeasonPlayoffs
Arizona (St. Louis) Cardinals7-0197410-4Lost in Divisional Round
Atlanta Falcons5-0 ?2012??
Baltimore Ravens4-0200613-3Lost in Divisional Round
Buffalo Bills9-0196412-2AFL Champions
Carolina Panthers5-0200311-5Lost in Super Bowl
Chicago Bears13-0 ¹193413-0Lost in NFL Championship
Cincinnati Bengals6-0197511-3Lost in Divisional Round
Cincinnati Bengals6-0198812-4Lost in Super Bowl
Cleveland Browns15-0 ²194814-0AAFC Champions
Dallas Cowboys8-0197712-2Super Bowl Champions
Denver Broncos13-0199814-2Super Bowl Champions
Detroit Lions10-0193410-3Didn't Qualify
Green Bay Packers13-0201115-1Lost in Divisional Round
Houston Texans5-0 ?2012??
Indianapolis Colts14-0200914-2Lost in Super Bowl
Jacksonville Jaguars5-0199811-5Lost in Divisional Round
Kansas City Chiefs9-0200313-3Lost in Divisional Round
Miami Dolphins17-0 ³197214-0Super Bowl Champions
Minnesota Vikings10-0197512-2Lost in Divisional Round
New England Patriots18-0 ⁴200716-0Lost in Super Bowl
New Orleans Saints13-0200913-3Super Bowl Champions
New York Giants10-0199013-3Super Bowl Champions
New York Jets5-0200410-6Lost in Divisional Round
Oakland Raiders4-0196812-2Lost in AFL Championship
Oakland Raiders4-0197711-3Lost in AFC Championship
Oakland (Los Angeles) Raiders4-0198312-4Super Bowl Champions
Oakland (Los Angeles) Raiders4-0198411-5Lost in Wild Card Round
Oakland (Los Angeles) Raiders4-0199012-4Lost in AFC Championship
Oakland Raiders4-0200211-5Lost in Super Bowl
Philadelphia Eagles7-0200413-3Lost in Super Bowl
Pittsburgh Steelers7-0197814-2Super Bowl Champions
San Diego Chargers11-0196112-2Lost in AFL Championship
San Francisco 49ers10-0194812-2Didn't Qualify
San Francisco 49ers10-0199014-2Lost in NFC Championship
Seattle Seahawks3-0198610-6Didn't Qualify
Seattle Seahawks3-019988-8Didn't Qualify
Seattle Seahawks3-0200310-6Lost in Wild Card Round
Seattle Seahawks3-020049-7Lost in Wild Card Round
Seattle Seahawks3-020069-7Lost in Divisional Round
St. Louis (Los Angeles) Rams11-0196911-3Lost in Conf. Championship
Tampa Bay Buccaneers5-0197910-6Lost in NFC Championship
Tampa Bay Buccaneers5-0199710-6Lost in Divisional Round
Tennessee Titans10-0200813-3Lost in Divisional Round
Washington Redskins11-0199114-2Super Bowl Champions

¹ The first defeat the 1934 Chicago Bears suffered, was in the NFL Championship Game to the New York Giants 30-13.

² The 1948 Cleveland Browns, a member of the AAFC, didn’t lose a single game.

³ The 1972 Miami Dolphins didn’t lose a single game, they’re the only team to ever go undefeated throughout an entire NFL season.

⁴ The first defeat the 2007 New England Patriots suffered, was in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants 17-14.


How the Best Start Ended

FranchiseBest StartWhenFirst LossOpp W-L-TScore
Arizona (St. Louis) Cardinals7-01974atDallas Cowboys3-4L 17-14
Atlanta Falcons5-0 ?2012???
Baltimore Ravens4-02006atDenver Broncos2-1L 13-3
Buffalo Bills9-01964New England (Boston) Patriots6-2-1L 36-28
Carolina Panthers5-02003Tennessee Titans4-2L 37-17
Chicago Bears13-01934atNew York Giants8-5L 30-13
Cincinnati Bengals6-01975Pittsburgh Steelers5-1L 30-24
Cincinnati Bengals6-01988atNew England Patriots2-4L 27-21
Cleveland Browns15-01948Never Lost a Game--
Dallas Cowboys8-01977Arizona (St. Louis) Cardinals5-3L 24-17
Denver Broncos13-01998atNew York Giants5-8L 20-16
Detroit Lions10-01934Green Bay Packers5-5L 3-0
Green Bay Packers13-02011atKansas City Chiefs5-8L 19-14
Houston Texans5-0 ?2012???
Indianapolis Colts14-02009New York Jets7-7L 29-15
Jacksonville Jaguars5-01998atBuffalo Bills2-3L 17-16
Kansas City Chiefs9-02003atCincinnati Bengals4-5L 24-19
Miami Dolphins17-01972atNever Lost a Game--
Minnesota Vikings10-01975atWashington Redskins6-4L 31-30
New England Patriots18-02007nNew York Giants13-6L 17-14
New Orleans Saints13-02009Dallas Cowboys8-5L 24-17
New York Giants10-01990atPhiladelphia Eagles6-4L 31-13
New York Jets5-02004atNew England Patriots5-0L 13-7
Oakland Raiders4-01968San Diego Chargers3-1L 23-14
Oakland Raiders4-01977Denver Broncos4-0L 30-7
Oakland (Los Angeles) Raiders4-01983atWashington Redskins3-1L 37-35
Oakland (Los Angeles) Raiders4-01984atDenver Broncos3-1L 16-13
Oakland (Los Angeles) Raiders4-01990atBuffalo Bills3-1L 38-24
Oakland Raiders4-02002atSt. Louis Rams0-5L 28-13
Philadelphia Eagles7-02004atPittsburgh Steelers6-1L 27-3
Pittsburgh Steelers7-01978Tennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)4-3L 24-17
San Diego Chargers11-01961atTennessee Titans (Hou. Oilers)7-3-1L 33-13
San Francisco 49ers10-01948atCleveland Browns9-0L 14-7
San Francisco 49ers10-01990St. Louis (Los Angeles) Rams3-7L 28-17
Seattle Seahawks3-01986atWashington Redskins3-0L 19-14
Seattle Seahawks3-01998atPittsburgh Steelers2-1L 13-10
Seattle Seahawks3-02003atGreen Bay Packers2-2L 35-13
Seattle Seahawks3-02004St. Louis Rams2-2L 33-27
Seattle Seahawks3-02006atChicago Bears3-0L 37-6
St. Louis (Los Angeles) Rams11-01969Minnesota Vikings10-1L 20-13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers5-01979atNew York Giants0-5L 17-14
Tampa Bay Buccaneers5-01997atGreen Bay Packers3-2L 21-16
Tennessee Titans10-02008New York Jets7-3L 34-13
Washington Redskins11-01991Dallas Cowboys6-5L 24-21


Additional Info

  • A little under a one-third of the league’s teams have taken a franchise best start all the way to a championship.
  • The 1948 San Francisco 49ers, are the only team to have their best start spoiled by another team also having their best start (Cleveland Browns).
  • The 1934 Detroit Lions, are the only team to have their best start spoiled in a shutout defeat. The Lions’ undefeated run through 1934 ended when the Green Bay Packers shut them out 3-0.


Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com

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