KANSAS CITY, MO. — The mad march through history continues. You like numbers? Oh, we’ve got numbers: The Kansas City Chiefs are now the first team in NFL history to be 9-0 in the first season of a new starting quarterback and new head coach, the first team to start 9-0 after winning two or fewer games the year before, and the first team to start 9-0 after coming off the previous season’s worst record. The improvement of plus-seven wins from 2012’s 2-14 disaster is already the biggest single-season improvement from one year to another in franchise annals. And we’ve still got seven more to play…
CHIEFS 23, BILLS 13: THREE FREAKING AWESOME MONDAY QUESTIONS
:03 … Thanks to Smith and Hali, that’s seven non-offensive touchdowns — five on defense — on the season, right? How close is that to a team record?
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It’s on the right pace, let’s put that way. The club record for defensive touchdowns in a single fall is nine, set by that Gunther Cunningham bunch in 1999. The club record for returns in a season is 11, set in 1992 and matched by that aforementioned ’99 squad.
The Chiefs have four pick-sixes through nine games; the club mark for interception returns in a single season is six, set in 1992. The single-season record for fumble returns for scores is four, in 1999. And, hey, here’s some more, while we’re up: The Chiefs have two special teams touchdowns; the club record for a season is five, set in 1986 and tied in 1987.
:02 … Big-picture, what does 10-0 mean?
First things first — Peyton Manning will have something to say about that, ya feel. But 15 NFL teams since 1969 have opened a season with 10 straight wins, and here are how those seasons played out:
* 1969 Rams // 0-1 in the playoffs * 1972 Dolphins // Won Super Bowl * 1973 Vikings // Lost Super Bowl * 1975 Vikings // 0-1 in the playoffs * 1984 Dolphins // Lost Super Bowl * 1985 Bears // Won Super Bowl * 1990 49ers // 1-1 in playoffs * 1990 Giants // Won Super Bowl * 1991 Redskins // Won Super Bowl * 1998 Broncos // Won Super Bowl * 2005 Colts // 0-1 in the playoffs * 2007 Patriots // Lost Super Bowl * 2009 Colts // Lost Super Bowl * 2009 Saints // Won Super Bowl * 2011 Packers // 0-1 in the playoffs
If you’re counting, of those 15 clubs, 10 reached the Super Bowl, or 66.7 percent. Of those 15, six — 40 percent — won the whole shebang. On the flip side, four of those teams — 26.7 percent — lost their only postseason game. So while there are a whole lot of Super Bowl appearances out of this particular fraternity, it guarantees you absolutely zilch.
:01 … OK then, genius, what does being the last unbeaten mean?
Flip a coin. Since 1984, there’ve been 31 clubs that have been the last unbeaten NFL franchise in any particular year, and here’s how they fared:
* Missed the playoffs entirely: one team (Saints, ’93) * Eliminated in the Wild Card round: three teams (including the Chiefs of ’10) * Eliminated in the Divisional Round: six teams (including the Chiefs of ’03) * Eliminated in the Conference Championship: five * Reached the Super Bowl: 16 * Won the Super Bowl: 10
More percentages, then: Based on this particular sample size, the last unbeaten team in the NFL — in this case, the 9-0 Chiefs — has a 51.6 percent chance of reaching the Super Bowl and a 32.3 percent chance of winning it. Again, even though the final destination of this journey remains up in the air, it’s hard not to get a little stoked about those kind of beautiful odds.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.