A word used so much in sports, yet so rarely achieved.
We look back in history at the likes of the 1972 Dolphins or the UCLA Bruins basketball team under coach John Wooden. The UConn Women’s basketball team won the most consecutive games in any NCAA basketball league. Some have tried and come so close like last year where the Kentucky basketball team came just a few games short or (as much as it kills me inside) the 2007 Patriots that were only 3 points away. All of these teams have one thing in common: greatness.
This year, the NFL has 5 undefeated teams through Week 7. These teams include the Broncos, Packers, Bengals, Panthers, and Patriots. Five unbeaten teams got me thinking; which of these teams has a legitimate chance of finishing the perfect season?
Let’s start in Denver:
The Broncos have shown they can win with defense and defense alone. Aging Quarterback Peyton Manning has picked up where he left off last year, struggling to throw the ball downfield and having an usual amount of interceptions than he’s used to. A once dominant Denver offense has become mediocre at best. The weapons seem to be there with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas at receiver, but the running game is almost nonexistent and Manning continues to struggle. The question is: how far can the defense take them? The answer: to the playoffs, but no the perfect season. The Broncos have a tough schedule remaining with the Packers, Colts, and Chiefs in the next three games, as well as the Patriots in late November. I believe the Broncos winning ways will come to an end this Sunday against Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers will show why he’s truly elite facing the tough Denver D.
Now a perfect segue into the next team: The Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay is lucky because they have a very winnable remaining schedule and a top Quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Even with the loss of star receiver Jordy Nelson, the Packers offense hasn’t slowed down one bit. Rodgers is putting up MVP like stats once again and this gives them a legitimate shot at the undefeated season. Can it happen? Yes. Will it happen? I don’t think so. The two games that I see the Packers possibly slipping is Week 9 on the road against the Panthers and Week 16 on the road against the Cardinals. It is known throughout the NFL that the Packers just don’t lose at home in Lambeau, so these two tough match-ups away from Green Bay will be their true tests and I believe at least one will result in a loss.
We’re on to Cincinnati:
The Bengals have surprised many (including myself) this season. People are starting to say that maybe the Bengals are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. There is little doubt that this team will most likely make the playoffs and even win their division, but how far they will go is still in question. The next question is if this currently undefeated team will be able to continue the trend until the end of the year. While this Bengals team has looked impressive, they are still beatable with Andy Dalton at the helm. Dalton has shown that he can be a good starting quarterback in the NFL, but going undefeated? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Cincinnati still has a very tough schedule remaining with the Steelers twice, the Rams, Cardinals, and Broncos in the way. All those games have potential for losses, so I don’t see the Bengals making that type of undefeated run.
Moving south to the Carolina Panthers:
A division winner at 7-8-1 just a year ago, the Panthers are already one win away from matching that win total, now sitting at 6-0. The once dominant defense the Panthers had a few years ago has seemed to return. Holding teams just enough for Cam Newton and the offense to do their damage. The offense has been able to get it done despite the lack of receivers with the injury to Kelvin Benjamin in the preseason. Jonathan Stewart has helped out on the ground to open up the pass for Newton. Carolina has some impressive wins over New Orleans, Seattle, and Philadelphia. As for an undefeated season, there are some questions. Carolina has Indianapolis this week and Green Bay, as well as a possible Tony Romo return to the Cowboys later in the season. Their own division will not be easy to navigate either. While Carolina looks like a true Super Bowl contender, it is difficult to say for sure that the undefeated streak will continue for much longer.
Last, but not least: The New England Patriots
Here we are again…6-0 and Tom Brady hot as ever (on and off the field). The defending Super Bowl Champions have come out of the gate on fire, putting up staggering offensive numbers and not holding back at all. At 38, Tom Brady is questionably having the best season of his career so far. The perfect season talk has began to come up with the Patriots quite a bit this year because of the deflate-gate revenge factor and how the Patriots did the same thing in 2007 on the way to an undefeated season. Could this year be a repeat? It is definitely possible. The sole reason I believe this is because of the strength of the Patriots schedule. There are not many serious threats that come up on the schedule. The only tough games I see are on the road against the Broncos, where the Patriots have struggled in recent years and on the road against the Jets, which is always a tough game for New England. If the Patriots can pass those tests, then it is very possible that another undefeated season could be in order (hopefully with a happier ending).