8-0 An Unlucky Omen For The 49ers?

Reuters

 

The San Francisco 49ers are the last undefeated team in the NFL, having rattled off eight straight wins to start the 2019 season.

That is an enviable position to be in but not one that has typically foreshadowed Super Bowl glory.

Since 2000, the last undefeated team left standing has won the Super Bowl only once, when the Indianapolis Colts went on to defeat the Chicago Bears at the end of the 2006 season.

 

In that time, the final remaining undefeated team has lost in the Super Bowl on seven occasions, including the previous campaign, when the Los Angeles Rams were beaten by the New England Patriots in February.

Here we look how the last unbeaten team in the league fared since 2015, plus assess the chances of the 49ers turning their incredible start into a sixth Lombardi Trophy.

 

2015 Carolina Panthers - Lost Super Bowl to Denver Broncos

Behind an MVP campaign from quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers ran roughshod over their opponents for 14 successive games before finally losing to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16. They finished the year 15-1 and appeared set for a maiden Super Bowl triumph after defeating the Seattle Seahawks and crushing the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs, only to run into a brick wall of a Denver Broncos defense as Peyton Manning finished his career with his second Lombardi Trophy.

 

2016 Minnesota Vikings - Missed playoffs

The Vikings won their first five games thanks to an imposing defense and the efficient passing of Sam Bradford, but they collapsed after their Week 6 bye, winning only three of their final 11 games, and had to watch the postseason from home after an 8-8 finish saw them narrowly miss out on the playoffs.

 

2017 Kansas City Chiefs - Lost in Wild Card Round

It was a case of history repeating itself for the Chiefs, who won their opening nine games in 2013 before losing a Wild Card thriller to the Indianapolis Colts. Kansas City and quarterback Alex Smith won their opening five four seasons later before the Pittsburgh Steelers ended that streak in Week 6, a defeat that began a run of six losses in seven games. The Chiefs recovered to make the postseason, only to lose at home in agonising fashion as Marcus Mariota inspired the Tennessee Titans to a shock 22-21 Wild Card win.

 

2018 Los Angeles Rams - Lost Super Bowl to New England Patriots

The Rams - led by a juggernaut offense - looked unstoppable as they began with an eight-game winning streak, and even though they lost 45-35 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 9, that shoot-out defeat provided further credence to the argument they could go blow for blow with any team. They lost just twice more before controversially getting revenge on the Saints to reach the Super Bowl, but that much-vaunted offense came unstuck on the biggest stage in a 13-3 defeat.

 

2019 San Francisco 49ers - TBC

San Francisco have all the ingredients of a Super Bowl frontrunner. The Niners boast a suffocating defense, an innovative and dominant running game and dependable passing game weapons in star tight end George Kittle and the recently acquired Emmanuel Sanders. With the offense helmed by a quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo who appears to relish the pressure moments and head coach Kyle Shanahan - seen by many as the most creative mind in the game - they seem perfectly set up for a deep postseason run.

Their hopes of turning an outstanding start into a title will depend heavily on how the 49ers deal with a tough second-half schedule that encompasses two games with the Seattle Seahawks as well as matchups with the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. If they can negotiate that stretch and secure a first-round bye - potentially with homefield advantage in the playoffs - then it will be extremely tough for anyone to stop them reaching Super Bowl LIV.