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How does Bengals' 8-0 record rank among best all-time NFL starts

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With their victory over the Cleveland Browns, the Bengals extended their season-opening record to 8-0. How does this impressive start rank all time in the NFL?

Andrew Weber/Getty Images

In the history of the NFL, going back to the onset of the Super Bowl era 50 years ago and up to the beginning of the 2015 season, there had been 31 starts to a season where a team began the year 7-0.

Last week the Cincinnati Bengals joined this exclusive group with their 16-10 comeback victory at Pittsburgh. They were joined by the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots as the latest teams to reach this rare 7-0 milestone. There are now 35 all time of 7-0 starts.

Before the 2015 season, the last 7-0 start was in the 2013 season. That year, the Kansas City Chiefs reeled off nine straight victories before a late season collapse with a 2-6 finish which ultimately saw them exit the playoffs in the Wild Card round.

Going into Week 9, the 2015 NFL season has set an unprecedented record with four teams boasting 7-0 starts. It is the first time more than two teams have ever began a season with such an impressive winning streak.

With the Bengals’ win on Thursday night, they have jumped to a franchise best 8-0 start to the 2015 NFL season. If the Broncos, Panthers, or Patriots win this week, they will join the Bengals at 8-0. Only three previous seasons have seen multiple teams began the year 8-0 (1948, 1990, and 2009).

The best start in NFL history is the 18-0 start by the New England Patriots who made it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to the New York Giants in the 2007 season.

The second best start in NFL history is the 1972 Miami Dolphins who began, and ended, the year 17-0 as the only team in NFL history to win every game (in the Super Bowl era).

So how does the Bengals' current 8-0 record rank?

Franchise Start Year Overall Playoff Result
1 New England Patriots 18-0 2007 18-1 Lost in Super Bowl
2 Miami Dolphins 17-0 1972 17-0 Super Bowl Champions
3 Indianapolis Colts 14-0 2009 16-3 Lost in Super Bowl
4 Green Bay Packers 13-0 2011 15-2 Lost in Divisional Round
4 New Orleans Saints 13-0 2009 16-3 Super Bowl Champions
4 Indianapolis Colts 13-0 2005 14-3 Lost in Divisional Round
4 Denver Broncos 13-0 1998 17-2 Super Bowl Champions
8 Chicago Bears 12-0 1985 18-1 Super Bowl Champions
9 Washington Redskins 11-0 1991 17-2 Super Bowl Champions
9 Miami Dolphins 11-0 1984 16-3 Lost in Super Bowl
9 St. Louis (Los Angeles) Rams 11-0 1969 11-4 Lost in Conf. Championship
12 Tennessee Titans 10-0 2008 13-4 Lost in Divisional Round
12 New York Giants 10-0 1990 16-3 Super Bowl Champions
12 San Francisco 49ers 10-0 1990 15-3 Lost in NFC Championship
12 Minnesota Vikings 10-0 1975 12-3 Lost in Divisional Round
16 Kansas City Chiefs 9-0 2013 11-6 Lost in Wild Card Round
16 Indianapolis Colts 9-0 2006 16-4 Super Bowl Champions
16 Kansas City Chiefs 9-0 2003 13-4 Lost in Divisional Round
16 Minnesota Vikings 9-0 1973 14-3 Lost in Super Bowl
20 Cincinnati Bengals 8-0 2015 tbd tbd
20 Atlanta Falcons 8-0 2012 14-4 Lost NFC Conf Championship
20 Dallas Cowboys 8-0 1977 15-2 Super Bowl Champions
21 Carolina Panthers 7-0 2015 tbd tbd
21 Denver Broncos 7-0 2015 tbd tbd
21 New England Patriots 7-0 2015 tbd tbd
21 Indianapolis Colts 7-0 2007 13-4 Lost in Divisional Round
21 Chicago Bears 7-0 2006 15-4 Lost in Super Bowl
21 Philadelphia Eagles 7-0 2004 15-4 Lost in Super Bowl
21 Minnesota Vikings 7-0 2000 12-6 Lost in AFC Championship
21 Minnesota Vikings 7-0 1998 16-2 Lost in AFC Championship
21 New Orleans Saints 7-0 1991 11-6 Lost in Wild Card Round
21 St. Louis (Los Angeles) Rams 7-0 1985 12-6 Lost in Conf. Championship
21 Pittsburgh Steelers 7-0 1978 17-2 Super Bowl Champions
21 St. Louis (Los Angeles) Rams 7-0 1978 13-5 Lost in Conf. Championship
21 Arizona (St. Louis) Cardinals 7-0 1974 10-5 Lost in Divisional Round

The Bengals are currently tied for the twentieth best start in NFL history at 8-0.

The league boasts dozens of teams and is in its 50 season in the Super Bowl era. That means out of about 1,000 season starts for NFL teams, the Bengals start is the 20th best ever.

If they can win against the Houston Texans on Monday night in Week 10, they will jump into a tie for the thirteenth best start all time at 9-0.

A few notes of interest regarding 7-0 starts:

  • There are 14 additional starts to a season of 7-0, but those took place before the Super Bowl era, and were not included.
  • The Green Bay Packers hold the distinction of the most 7-0 season starts, with five, although four of those occurred before the Super Bowl era. In the last 50 seasons, the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings are tied for the most 7-0 season starts, with four each.
  • 10 franchises have never begun a season with seven consecutive wins in the Super Bowl era. They include the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • The Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, and San Diego Chargers have never begun a season 7-0 in the Super Bowl era, but have recorded such a season before the advent of the Super Bowl.

Not only is the Bengals’ 8-0 start one for the NFL record books, but it marks the best start for the Cincinnati Bengals’ franchise. The Bengals’ 8-0 start tops their previous best start to a season of 6-0 (accomplished twice), and has brought them their top ELO rating in franchise history.

After defeating the Cleveland Browns at home, their ELO rating has reached an all-time high of 1,672. Their previous high was 1,666 set in 1981 after winning the AFC Championship game.