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How often do 3-0 teams miss the playoffs?

We break down the history of 3-0 teams and current odds for 2-0 teams in 2023.

Ronnie Bell #10 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after making a 9-yard touchdown catch during the game against the New York Giants at Levi’s Stadium on September 21, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The NFL has kicked off Week 3 and we have an interesting mix of expected and unexpected strong starts to the season. The Cowboys, Eagles, 49ers, Dolphins, and Ravens are among the expected undefeated teams to start the season. The Falcons, Saints, and Bucs are among the unexpected.

The 49ers opened Week 3 with a win over the Giants to improve to 3-0. The rest of the weekend will see each undefeated team facing a team with at least one loss, so it’s entirely possible we see all nine teams advance to Week 3 with three wins. An upset or two is likely, but the possibility is there.

Dating back to 1970, 155 teams have started the season with a 3-0 record. Of that group, 115 teams made the playoffs (74%), 42 reached the Super Bowl, and 21 won the Super Bowl. One important note is that the NFL regular season has expanded from 14 games through 1977 to 16 games in 1978 to 17 games in 2021. A 3-0 start on a 14-game schedule has a little more value than the same start on a 17-game schedule.

Nonetheless, it’s important to get a strong start to the season. Last year, the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles both started 3-0. The Dolphins finished 9-8 and claimed a wild card berth before losing in the opening round of the playoffs. The Eagles finished 14-3 and won the NFC East title before losing in Super Bowl 57 to the Chiefs.

Looking at this year’s 2-0 teams, here are their odds to make the playoffs at DraftKings Sportsbook heading into Week 3. The 49ers improved to 3-0 and are -2000 to make the playoffs and +1000 to miss the playoffs.

Dolphins: Yes -425, No +320
Ravens: Yes -360, No +275
Cowboys: Yes -1000, No +600
Eagles: Yes -900, No +600
Commanders: Yes +230, No -300
Falcons: Yes -210, No +160
Saints: Yes -285, No +225
Buccaneers: Yes +135, No -165