Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who needs the next 13 weeks?

Maybe you've heard this nugget since Sunday's games wrapped up: "The Bengals are 4-0 for the first time since 1988, when they made their last Super Bowl appearance." Or this one: "The last time a Joe Gibbs team was 3-0, it was 1991 and the Redskins were on their way to winning Super Bowl XXVI." Or, in the other direction: "The Packers haven't lost their first four games since 1988, when Don Majkowski was their quarterback."

Why do we dig up these bits only for teams that are either unbeaten or winless? Couldn't we look at every team's record, combine it with that team's history and try to imply something about where the club is headed this season? We sure could, but we don't. Otherwise, we'd be pointing out what happened the last time New England started 2-2, and it just ain't fashionable to talk about that right now.

However, Down and Distance isn't afraid to shine the light of truth on tiny piles of insufficient data. Wherever there are numbers to be mined, we grab our canary cage and pickax and set off into the bowels of the Earth. Follow along as we see where your team is most likely to finish, based on how they've started this year:

(Key: '05=2005 start. YR=last year team started with this record. REC.=team's record that year. P?=whether team made playoffs that year)
Cincinnati 4-0198812-4Y Lost Super Bowl
Indianapolis 4-0200312-4Y Lost championship game
Denver 3-1200410-6Y Lost wildcard round
Miami 2-1200310-6N
Pittsburgh 2-1200415-1Y Lost championship game
Jacksonville 2-220016-10N
Kansas City 2-220028-8 N
New England 2-2200314-2Y Won Super Bowl
San Diego 2-2200412-4Y Lost divisional round
Baltimore 1-220027-9 N
Cleveland 1-220044-12N
Buffalo 1-3199810-6Y Lost wildcard round
N.Y. Jets 1-320029-7 Y Lost divisional round
Oakland 1-319974-12N
Tennessee 1-320045-11N
Houston 0-3--------- (worst start ever)
Tampa Bay 4-0199710-6Y Lost divisional round
Washington 3-0199114-2Y Won Super Bowl
Atlanta 3-1199814-2Y Lost Super Bowl
N.Y. Giants 3-120046-10N
Philadelphia 3-1200212-4Y Lost championship game
Carolina 2-219977-9 N
Dallas 2-220046-10N
New Orleans 2-220048-8 N
St. Louis 2-220048-8 Y Lost divisional round
Seattle 2-220019-7 N
Chicago 1-220045-11N
Detroit 1-220035-11N
Arizona 1-320046-10N
Minnesota 1-320015-11N
San Francisco 1-320037-9 N
Green Bay 0-419884-12N

As we can clearly see, New England and Washington will beat Cincinnati and Atlanta in Super Bowl XL. Another disappointing year for the Colts and the Steelers, as they fall to New England in the AFC Championship Game yet again. And the poor Eagles! Once again a bridesmaid! Finally, watch out for those plucky Houston Texans. They've never played like this before.

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