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Is it possible for three NFL teams in different divisions in the same conference to all go 16-0 during the regular season? I'm not sure if this is possible with all the scheduling rules that they have.

If this is possible, then one of those 3 teams would lose the tie-breaker and have to play a wild card game. So they would have to play 4 playoff games to win the Super Bowl, and they would be 20-0 if they won the Super Bowl.

  • My comment pertains to Diggers3 last statement, "As an add on, there could be a total of 4 undefeated regular season teams in one year. 2 in each conference." This statement is incorrect. You can have two 16-0 teams in one conference and only one 16-0 team in the other (two AFC 16-0 and one NFC 16-0, or two NFC 16-0 and one AFC 16-0) because of the inter-conference play. Attached is one combination of teams that could have gone 16-0 for the 2014 season based on their opening day schedule, but a fourth team is not possible to add. – BrownBall Nov 22 '14 at 21:23
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    Are you sure this is true? For interconference play, each division will only play teams from one division in the other conference. So couldn't you in theory have an NFC East team go 16-0 (while playing against the AFC East), an NFC North team go 16-0 (while playing against the AFC North), an AFC South team go 16-0 (while playing against the NFC South), and an AFC West team go 16-0 (while playing against the NFC West)? – pacoverflow Nov 22 '14 at 22:00
  • I will check. I recall the rotation of intra-conference and inter-conference accounts for it not lining up cleanly to have 4 regular season undefeated teams. – BrownBall Nov 22 '14 at 23:23
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    That is incorrect. I checked before adding that to my answer. If you check the schedule and draw it out you can clearly see that it is possible to have 4 teams. Your example does not cover every case. It is a single example. – diggers3 Nov 23 '14 at 0:58
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    Note that as of the 2020 season it is possible for a team to have a 20-0 record. See my answer to see how – alamoot Aug 21 at 20:19
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It is not. This is because of the regular reason scheduling:

  • Each team plays 16 games.

  • 6 games are in their own division (3 teams, each twice).

  • 4 games are against a division in the other conference.

  • 4 games are against a division in their own conference.

  • 2 remaining games are against the other 2 divisions in their conference based on final standings from the year before.

There are 4 divisions in each conference. So when the inter-conference divisions play each other, there can be a maximum of 2 undefeated teams in a conference. This also (obviously) means they didn't play each other in the 2 remaining games.

As an add on, there could be a total of 4 undefeated regular season teams in one year. 2 in each conference.

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  • So what you are saying is that if a team win all their matches during a season they'll always be 19-0, since they'll always have a bye in the first playoff week (Wild Card Round). – Ola Ström Jan 3 at 17:04
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NO, 3 teams can't go 16-0 in a conference.

Each division in a conference plays all of the teams in their own division twice, another division in their conference, and the other two teams that finished in the same spot as them the prior year.

This means that at maximum the highest number of teams that can go 16-0 in a conference is 2. Say you have four teams that win all of their games except games head to head against another team in the group. Each is a team from the East, West, North and South, they manage some good luck and none of them play each other as their same position game. Say for this year the East plays the West and the North plays the South. Only two of the teams in this group will be 16-0 at years end as there will be 2 head to head games among the 4 teams that only lose to teams in the group.

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  • "In the same spot as them" isn't quite correct, it's more complicated than that. Otherwise correct. – Joe Feb 13 '15 at 21:33
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Until the 2020 season it was impossible for an NFL team to go 20-0. But as of 2020 it is possible!

This is because starting the 2020-21 season the playoffs have been exapnded by 2 teams to 14 teams, and so as a result the second seed in each conference doesn't get a bye week during the wild card weekend anymore.

The NFL schedule hasn't changed, and teams will still play 16 weeks (for now) as follows:

  • Case 1: 6 games against divisional rivals: 3 at home, 3 away
  • Case 2: 4 games against teams on another division in the same conference
  • Case 3: 4 games against teams on another division in the other conference
  • Case 4: 2 games against the other two teams in the same conference that finished on the same spot within their respective division (that is all teams that finished 3rd in their divisions in NFC last season not covered by case 2 will plays each other this season)

This allows for 2 teams per conference to go undefeated during the regular season. We'll see how next.

Without loss of generality, let's label the 4 divisions in each conference A, B, C, and D. It's possible for the 4 cases above to happen as follows:

  • Case 1: Each team plays divisional rivals
  • Case 2: Teams in division A play against team in division B in the same conference. Same for divisions C & D
  • Case 3: Teams in division A play against teams in division B in the other conference. Same for division C & D

So far we can see that top teams in divisions A & C haven't played each other and can both be undefeated

  • Case 4: Top Seeds in divisions A & C beat 2 other teams that have already been defeated

Hence top seeds of divisions A & C in BOTH divisions now have 16-0 record. So far nothing has changed since before the 2020 season. Image below visualizes the above schedule with cases 2 and 3 marked on it. Divisions A & C are displayed in red as they have undefeated champions.

Schedule visualized

Let's denote winners of division A and C as Aw and Cw respectively, and assume Aw owns the tie break over Cw. So on the wild card weekend, Cw plays the bottom wild card while Aw has a bye. Note that Cw didn't have to play a game on wild card weekend before the 2020 season. With a win, Cw earns an extra win compared to Aw.

Both Aw and Cw win their next games, and meet in the conference finals. Aw has a record of 17-0 and Cw 18-0. Consider the case both Cw teams win their conferences. Now two 19-0 teams face off in the Super Bowl, leaving a 20-0 team as the Super Bowl champions.

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  • We might want to see if they even have a playoff in 2020 before deciding this is actually possible ;) But nicely caught. – Joe Aug 22 at 4:28
  • Haha yeah with covid you never know if they'll have a season, but the owners have approved for 14 teams in the playoffs regardless moving forward – alamoot Aug 22 at 12:56
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It can hypothetically but its extremely unlikely that they wont play each other.

First its extremly hard to go 16-0 anyway.(also ussually if ur 14-2 u will not play your starters)

Then you have to be really lucky to also not play each other

And also winning all the games in the playoffs BUT Thanks to 2020 playoffs its possible now: https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/nfl-playoff-format-changed-2020-season

EDIT:here is the way 2 teams get 16-0(because 3 teams is impossible): Lets say from the nfc west a team defeats every team in their own division and a team in the nfc east. Now the same thing happens with a team in the NFC North. Those teams have 2 more games to play so they have to hope they dont face each other.Then if all goes well The number 1 and 2 seed will both be 16-0 and 1st seed will have a bye and 2nd seed will play in wildcard. Then the wildcard 16-0 team wins every playoff game. 20-0 ()

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  • 2
    Are you able to give an exact set of results which would result in a team going 20-0? – Philip Kendall Oct 1 at 19:00
  • Hi @Name; while I think your answer is correct, could you show how it provides more information than alamoot's answer above? It seems like it provides the exact same information, but in a less detailed manner. – Joe Oct 2 at 16:13

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