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The Eagles Are 3-0 But In Unusual Fashion

Why are we surprised that the Eagles are winning ugly?

Why are we surprised that the Eagles are winning ugly?

Last week, Neil Paine wrote that while the Eagles were 2-0, it was not all sunshine and rainbows in Philadelphia. The Eagles posted Game Scripts of -7.1 against Jacksonville and -4.8 against Indianapolis; based on Neil’s research, the Eagles had the worst Game Scripts of any team to start 0-2 since at least 1978.

Against Washington in week 3, the Eagles fell behind 17-7 before coming from behind and again emerging victorious. As a result — and after trailing the Jags 17-0 and the Colts 20-6 — Philadelphia became the first team since at least 1940 to start a season 3-0 despite trailing by at least 10 points in each game.

In fact, only three teams had ever overcome a deficit of a touchdown or greater in each of their first three games: the 2000 Rams, the 2000 Jets, and the 1960 Giants. Those teams finished the season 10-6, 9-7, and 6-4-2 respectively, which means they went just 16-17-2 the rest of the season after starting 9-0.

In general, teams that have started 3-0 despite constantly falling behind have not been as successful over the rest of the season as other 3-0 teams. In fact, if you add up the worst margin for each 3-0 team in each game, 25 teams have trailed by an “aggregate” of 21+ points in those three games. On average, those teams won just 53.5% of the remainder of their games.

Here’s how to read the table below: The 2011 Bills started 3-0; in week 1, the team never trailed. In week 2, Buffalo fell behind by 18 points, and in week 3, Buffalo trailed by 21 points. The “aggregate” of the largest deficits in those three games was 39 points, the lowest since 1940 prior to the 2014 Eagles (41 points). The rest of the year, Buffalo went 3-10, with a rest-of-year winning percentage of 0.231.

TeamYearWk 1Wk 2Wk 3SumROY RecordROY Win%
BUF20110-18-21-393-100.231
GNB1982-23-12-1-362-3-10.417
NWE1999-6-21-7-345-80.385
DAL1983-20-10-3-339-40.692
RAI1982-80-24-325-10.833
CLE1993-14-3-13-304-90.308
NYG1960-14-7-7-283-4-20.444
KAN1995-3-14-10-2710-30.769
DET2011-70-20-277-60.538
NYJ2000-7-12-7-266-70.462
RAM1944-5-4-17-261-60.143
CHI2010-11-4-10-258-50.615
STL1966-7-4-14-255-5-10.5
WAS1986-4-3-18-259-40.692
IND1996-60-18-246-70.462
CIN1990-10-130-236-70.462
CHI1985-140-8-2212-10.923
STL2000-7-7-7-217-60.538
NOR2013-10-4-7-218-50.615
DAL1999-2100-215-80.385
SDG1994-180-3-218-50.615
PHI19930-10-11-215-80.385
BUF1991-140-7-2110-30.769
PIT1979-70-14-219-40.692
PHI19540-16-5-214-4-10.5
Average-9.44-6.48-10.08-260.535

Thirty-five teams started 3-0 while never trailing (the 2012 Falcons and 2009 Saints being the most recent).1 In the aggregate, that group of teams won 66.2% of their remaining games. In other words, it’s great for Philadelphia that the team is 3-0. It’s even greater that they get to play in the NFC East. But not all 3-0 teams are created equally, and the Eagles are certainly in the running for ugliest 3-0 team ever.

  1. The Bengals have trailed for just 51 seconds this year (and by one point at that), narrowly missing out on joining this club. []