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NFL: Week One Franchise Records and Facts

Posted by Andrew McKillop on September 8, 2011

Post Highlights

  • The Dallas Cowboys have the NFL’s best winning percentage in opening games (.676).
  • The defending Super Bowl champion is 30-13-1 (.693 W Pct) in season openers.  The last time a defending Super Bowl champion lost a season opener was in 1999.
  • The eventual Super Bowl champion is 37-7-1 (.833 W Pct) in season openers.  The last time the eventual Super Bowl champion lost a season opener was in 2007.

 

A Note About Pro Football Reference’s Play Index Tools

After a turbulent off-season the NFL regular season is about to kickoff.  I mentioned this a lot, but only because it’s worth repeating.  For any football researcher out there, I can’t overstate the value of the Play Index Tools that Pro-Football-Reference offers on their website.  These tools can save a researcher hours of data entry and analysis.  I was able to pull a few of the facts within this post using these tools.  I encourage all of my readers to take the tools for a spin this season.

 

It’s important for a NFL team to get off to a fast start.  With only 16 games in the regular season, every week is vital. A fast start to the season can give a team momentum that lasts all season.  Thus it’s no surprise that some of the NFL’s most successful franchises have a record of success in their season openers.  Success starts at Week One.

 

Week One Franchise Records

Note: Records reflect a franchise’s record in their opening game of the season.  There have been a few occasions in which a team hasn’t started the season in the NFL’s first “week” of games.  The tally includes years as AAFC and AFL franchises.

AFC East Last Ten
Team W L T W Pct W L W Pct
Bills 20 31 0.392 3 7 0.300
Dolphins 24 20 1 0.544 4 6 0.400
Jets 22 29 0.431 5 5 0.500
Patriots 27 24 0.529 8 2 0.800
AFC North Last Ten
Team W L T W Pct W L W Pct
Bengals 19 24 0.442 4 6 0.400
Browns 30 31 1 0.492 1 9 0.100
Ravens 7 8 0.467 5 5 0.500
Steelers 41 33 4 0.551 8 2 0.800
AFC South Last Ten
Team W L W Pct W L W Pct
Colts 32 26 0.552 7 3 0.700
Jaguars 10 6 0.625 5 5 0.500
Texans 4 5 0.444 4 5 0.444
Titans 27 24 0.529 6 4 0.600
AFC West Last Ten
Team W L T W Pct W L W Pct
Broncos 32 18 1 0.637 7 3 0.700
Chargers 29 22 0.569 6 4 0.600
Chiefs 27 24 0.529 4 6 0.400
Raiders 24 27 0.471 2 8 0.200
NFC East Last Ten
Team W L T W Pct W L W Pct
Cowboys 34 16 1 0.676 4 6 0.400
Eagles 32 45 1 0.417 4 6 0.400
Giants 49 32 5 0.599 5 5 0.500
Redskins 38 37 4 0.506 6 4 0.600
NFC North Last Ten
Team W L T W Pct W L W Pct
Bears 51 35 5 0.588 4 6 0.400
Lions 42 37 2 0.531 4 6 0.400
Packers 51 36 3 0.583 7 3 0.700
Vikings 28 21 1 0.570 5 5 0.500
NFC South Last Ten
Team W L W Pct W L W Pct
Buccaneers 14 21 0.400 4 6 0.400
Falcons 24 21 0.533 6 4 0.600
Panthers 6 10 0.375 5 5 0.500
Saints 16 28 0.364 7 3 0.700
NFC West Last Ten
Team W L T W Pct W L W Pct
49ers 34 30 1 0.531 6 4 0.600
Cardinals 36 53 2 0.407 3 7 0.300
Rams 38 35 0.521 3 7 0.300
Seahawks 13 22 0.371 7 3 0.700


The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have the NFL’s most opening game victories (51).  Followed by the New York Giants (49 wins), Detroit Lions (42). and Pittsburgh Steelers (41).

The Dallas Cowboys have the NFL’s best winning percentage in opening games (.676).  Followed by the Denver Broncos (.637 W Pct), Jacksonville Jaguars (.625), and the New York Giants (.599).

The Arizona Cardinals have the NFL’s most opening game losses (53).  Followed by the Philadelphia Eagles (45 losses), Detroit Lions (37), and Washington Redskins (37).

The New Orleans Saints have the NFL’s worst winning percentage in opening games (.364).  Followed by the Seattle Seahawks (.371 W Pct), Carolina Panthers (.375), and the Buffalo Bills (.392).


From 1965 to 1981, the Dallas Cowboys won 17 consecutive openers.  It’s the most consecutive opening game wins in NFL history.

Opening Game Winning Streaks

Team Years Strk
Cowboys 1965-1981 W 17
Dolphins 1992-2002 W 11
Lions 1930-1939 W 10
Bears 1984-1992 W 9
Colts 1955-1962 W 8
Steelers 2003-? W 8
Bears 1936-1942 W 7
Chiefs 1990-1996 W 7
Patriots 2004-? W 7


From 1930 to 1966, the Detroit Lions won 16 consecutive openers played at home.

From 1965 to 2002, the Oakland Raiders won 13 consecutive openers played at home.

From 1967 to 1984, the Dallas Cowboys won 11 consecutive openers played on the road.


From 1968 to 1976, the Philadelphia Eagles lost 9 consecutive openers.  It’s the most consecutive opening game losses in NFL history.

Opening Game Losing Streaks

Team Years Strk
Eagles 1968-1976 L 9
Raiders 2003-? L 8
Colts 1984-1991 L 8
Seahawks 1976-1983 L 8
Cardinals 1992-1998 L 7
Columbus Tigers 1920-1926 L 7
Hammond Pros 1920-1926 L 7


From 1972 to 1991, the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts lost 7 consecutive openers played at home.

From 1953 to 1976, the Philadelphia Eagles lost 10 consecutive openers played on the road.


Greatest Opening Game Victories

Year Team Opponent Score Margin
1961 Oilers vs Raiders 55-0 +55
1973 Falcons at Saints 62-7 +55
1963 Chiefs at Broncos 59-7 +52
1967 Raiders vs Broncos 51-0 +51
1989 Browns at Steelers 51-0 +51

 

Only two franchises have failed to gain at least one total yard in a game since 1940.  In their 1967 opener, the Oakland Raiders held the Denver Broncos to -5 total yards.

The 1989 Cleveland Browns are the last NFL team to score 50 or more points in a season opener.

 

Super Bowl Champions in their Season Opener

Defending Super Bowl Champion

The defending Super Bowl champion is 30-13-1 (.693 W Pct) in season openers.

The last time a defending Super Bowl champion lost a season opener was in 1999.  That year the Denver Broncos lost to the Miami Dolphins 38-21 on a Monday night.

The defending Super Bowl champion has never been shutout in a season opener, and in openers has only been held to a single digit score on two occasions (1981 Raiders, 1996 Cowboys).

 

Eventual Super Bowl Champion

The eventual Super Bowl champion is 37-7-1 (.833 W Pct) in season openers.

The last time the eventual Super Bowl champion lost a season opener was in 2007.  That year the New York Giants lost to the Dallas Cowboys 45-35.

In 2003, the New England Patriots lost to the Buffalo Bills 31-0 in their season opener.  It’s the greatest loss an eventual Super Bowl champion suffered in a season opener.  It was the only time an eventual Super Bowl champion failed to score double-digit points in a season opener.

 

Additional Facts

Only nine current NFL franchises have losing records in openers played at home (Bills, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals Eagles, Jets, Panthers, Saints, and Seahawks).

The New Orleans Saints are 0-6 vs. both the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers in season openers.  It’s the most losses without a victory by any franchise against any opponent, in season openers.

 

From 1925 to 1947, the Green Bay Packers opened every season at home (23 games).

From their founding in 1925 to 1960, the New York Giants opened every season on the road (36 games).



Reference: Pro-Football-Reference.com


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