The Cincinnati Bengals continued their best start in franchise history by beating the AFC North rival Cleveland Browns 31-10 on Thursday night to improve to 8-0 on the year.
The Bengals haven’t officially secured a postseason berth, but it seems like a given. They are the sixth team to start a season with eight straight victories in the last six years, and the five previous teams all at least made the playoffs, while two reached the Super Bowl and one took the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The Bengals, led by the improved play of Andy Dalton, are now third in the NFL with 28.6 points per game but they are not getting much love from odds makers. Nearly a month ago, the Bengals held 12/1 odds to win their first Super Bowl, but they’ve pulled back to 14/1 despite the blazing start, according to VegasInsider.com.
But that might have more to do with the three other perfect squads left in league, and all three could remain perfect after Week 9. The Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots, along with the Bengals, became the first quartet in league history to all begin 7-0.
Denver and New England are both favored to move to 8-0, while Carolina has a difficult home matchup against Green Bay (6-1). Despite the results of this weekend, the Bengals will likely have some stiff competition atop of the AFC.
And as history suggests, the Bengals’ second-half of the season could bring in a few more losses and perhaps deny Marvin Lewis' squad home-field advantage in the postseason. Games against the Arizona Cardinals (6-2) in Week 11, followed up against the defensive-minded St. Louis Rams (4-3) in Week 12, then a Week-14 matchup with the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4), will shape the Bengals' playoff picture. Cincinnati may also have to topple Denver at Mile High in Week 16 to finish with one of the two best records in the AFC.
But how have past 8-0 teams fared the rest of the way? The Bengals may want to look at the fate of the following teams before they consider their path to the postseason.
2013 Kansas City Chiefs
Despite rocketing to 8-0, the Chiefs sputtered with a 3-5 mark to close the year and finished second to Denver in the AFC West with an 11-5 mark. Owning one of the best defenses in the league, the Chiefs wound up in a wild card matchup with Andrew Luck and the Colts and coughed up a 21-point halftime lead and fell 45-44.
2012 Atlanta Falcons
Quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons tied for the best record in the league by following up their 8-0 start with a 5-3 run down the stretch to take the NFC’s top seed and the NFC South. The Falcons nearly made their second Super Bowl in franchise history before losing to San Francisco 28-24 in the NFC title game.
2011 Green Bay Packers
If not for a Week 15 loss at Kansas City, the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers would’ve posted a perfect 16-0 after winning their first 14 games. They finished 15-1 and were heavy favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champs, but wound up losing to the eventual champion New York Giants in the NFC divisional round, 37-20.
2009 Indianapolis Colts
One of two squads to go 8-0 and reach the Super Bowl in 2009, the Colts blew past opponents with a 109-point scoring differential in the first half of the season, and rolled to a 14-2 overall mark. However, Peyton Manning would throw a late interception in the Super Bowl, as the Saints prevailed, 31-17.
2009 New Orleans Saints
As good as the Colts offense was in the first eight weeks, the Saints were even better, going 8-0 with a 129-point differential. And even though they claimed one less victory than the Colts, Drew Brees carried the team on his shoulders for MVP honors and the team's first Super Bowl win.