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History of the Last Unbeaten NFL Teams

Scott Morris | November 17, 2022
2021 Arizona Cardinals started 8-0

The last of the unbeatens, the Philadelphia Eagles now lost a football game in the 2022 regular season. Some suggest, though mostly to make themselves feel a bit better, that it’s good. Philadelphia is now free to concentrate on winning the title. Having the prospect of an undefeated season hanging over your head is too much of a burden, anyway.

Philly is priced at +500 to win the title, according to Super Bowl odds.

Conversely, if you think the Washington Commanders, who downed the Eagles, are somehow legit, take the 60-1 (+6000) they offer to win the NFC That’s per NFL conference odds.

Here’s a look at some recent last-loss teams, and their fates…

Arizona Cardinals – 2021

So, last season, the Cardinals started the season 7-0. In their eighth game, they lost to the Packers, 24-21, and ended by losing six of their final 10, They lost their grip on the division, the consolation prize a wild-card berth.

Arizona was promptly bounced out in the first round of the playoffs, and they looked bad, too.  They weren’t a serious Super Bowl contender down the stretch, playing as such.

Pittsburgh Steelers – 2020

Making it all the way to 11-0-which is the longest streak to begin a season since 2015-ironically, Washington broke their streak with a 23-17 win in Pittsburgh. Same as with the Cardinals, that loss broke the dam, Pittsburgh losing four of its final five regular-season games.

The last loss in the regular season was to the Cleveland Browns, as was the loss they suffered in the wild-card round. Pittsburgh dropped its way out of a first-round bye. It was quick and painful, thus ending the best start in the history of the franchise.

San Francisco 49ers – 2019

2019 49ers 8-0

OCTOBER 07: Matt Breida with the ball against the Cleveland Browns at Levi’s Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Same as this season’s Eagles, the 49ers began their 2019 season at 8-0. They lost to the Seahawks in Week 10, but didn’t break the momentum. They finished first in the NFC West, first in the NFC and they made it to the Super Bowl, before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The New England Patriots also began 8-0, in what was Tom Brady’s final year in Foxboro. They were a Wild Card loser, however, and not nearly as successful in their run as the Niners.

Los Angeles Rams – 2018

The Rams’ season in 2018 went very much as the 49ers’ season in 2019. Starting at 8-0, they finished the regular season at 13-3, defeating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game. LA lost to the Patriots in an ugly Super Bowl.

What was remembered in that season was the pass-interference controversy at the end of the NFC title game, leading the NFL’s making a disjointed attempt to have interference reviewable. The second biggest thing was the contract extension given to Jared Goff, parlaying a Super Bowl run into what was then a record $110 million guaranteed. He’s now in Detroit.

Carolina Panthers – 2015

NFL Panthers 2015 seasonThe Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings began 5-0 in 2017 and 2016, respectively. KC finished 10-6 and was bounced in the wild-card round, and the 8-8 Vikings didn’t qualify..

However, the 2015 Panthers were 14-0 to begin the season, then ended 15-1. They went into Super Bowl 50 as the best team in the NFL, with the best player in quarterback Cam Newton.

They ended by playing their worst game of the season, losing to the Broncos, 24-10, Carolina’s lowest-scoring output of the season. It was the first game all season Newton didn’t score a touchdown either with his arm or his legs. His 55.4 quarterback rating in the Super Bowl was also his lowest of the season.

Other Super Bowl Participants

The 49ers, Rams and Panthers all made it to the Super Bowl after their undefeated early-season runs, and they’re not alone. There have been 11 other teams in the Super Bowl era that lost in the “Big Game” as the final team to lose in the regular season. That even includes the Eagles of 2004.

There’s also been a number of title winners who were the last of the unbeatens. Remember the 2006 Colts, starting 9-0 en route to winning Super Bowl XLI. Ten other Super Bowl champions were the last team to lose in their seasons. That doesn’t include the 1972 Dolphins, perfect to this day.

 

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