NFL

Why The AFC Championship Might Be Peyton Manning’s Last Game Ever

If the Denver Broncos lose in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, it could very well be Peyton Manning’s last game.

It would almost certainly be his last game in Denver, given that both he and Brock Osweiler are free agents. Neither would probably accept a backup position next year, and Denver would be foolish to hang on to another year of Manning while losing out on a potential decade-plus of Osweiler.

Peyton’s Legacy in Denver

Even though it seems like it was just yesterday that us Broncos fans stopped Tebowing and embraced our inner Manning, this is Papa John’s fourth year in blue and orange. Looking back, he’s done quite a bit.

Year 1: I’m still not ready to talk about this.

Year 2: For Bronco fans, there are few things better than beating the San Diego Chargers and Phillip Rivers, exponentially more so in the playoffs, but winning our first Brady-Manning playoff game and going to the Super Bowl afterwards was probably better. As fun as those were, what happened next was equally disheartening as they ended up on the wrong side of the only 43-8 game in NFL history.

Year 3:

Always a good sign when a prominent and trusted journalist with a good relationship with your team’s head coach reports that he’ll leave “if” they lose their playoff game later that day. That was a hostage situation that robbed us of another Brady-Manning AFC Championship.

Year 4: If Bronco fans had to list the 5 teams they hate the most, the consensus would form around Pittsburgh, New England, Kansas City, Oaklandlangeles, and San Diegolangeles. In four years, Manning secured playoff wins over three of them, with the potential to clinch the Brady-Manning playoff rivalry in favor of the Broncos this weekend.

Regardless of what happens on Sunday, it’s been a good run.

Bronco fans have a unique perspective on the Manning-Brady rivalry, because as a Colt, Peyton routinely eviscerated the Broncos to the point where they traded for Champ Bailey after Manning threw for over 800 yards and 9 TD’s in back to back playoff games against Denver. We’re not fans of Brady, but Peyton wasn’t exactly our favorite guy either.

Even in the face of recent HGH allegations, Peyton’s legacy is mostly secured in Denver. The debate about PED’s has certainly waned from its peak in the previous decade, as many people don’t really know what to make of doping in sports anymore due to its complexity, and because it seems to be so widespread.

Plus, the NFL has little interest in finding out whether Peyton Manning is taking PED’s, because if he is, so is a gigantic chunk of the league. This is a story that will most likely never be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Fans care about wins, and Peyton provided plenty of those for Bronco fans to go along with a laughable amount of NFL and franchise records. With two more wins, he would become a Denver legend. Without them, this was merely a fun, yet mildly disappointing episode in an otherwise long term relationship with our city’s favorite sports team.

Peyton’s legacy vs Brady

Far too many words have been committed to a debate that no one can really ever win, so I won’t waste any more space here, but given that I live in Boston and have to deal with the noise, I just want to remind my compatriots that a handful of field goals and a couple other plays not involving Peyton Manning or Tom Brady have swung this rivalry in favor of Brady in the Win-Loss column. Assigning the efforts of 46 men (not to mention the coaching staff) to 1 man is an inefficient way to compare two players. Such is the nature of a game that is decided by inches.

Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots

Believe it or not, but there are people other than Tom Brady and Peyton Manning playing in this game.

While everyone has been trying to push their way to the front of the line to pour more dirt on Peyton Manning’s career, few have talked about the real reason why the Broncos are hosting the AFC Championship Game: the best defense in the NFL.

Debating Manning has commanded so much of the conversation that it’s given many the impression that the offense is still the one we’ve become familiar with over the last decade-plus. It’s not. They’re not even running the same offense they were running when I wrote my column on the QB controversy a month ago.

Since then, Osweiler lead multiple comebacks in the biggest game of the season, jolting the Broncos out of their doldrums by running the Manning/Tom Moore offense to near-perfection. The entire offense fell apart the following week, turning the ball over 5 times before Manning came in relief of Osweiler. Peyton lead comebacks against the Chargers in week 17 and the Steelers in the Divisional Round while hopping in between Kubiak’s West Coast scheme, and Moore’s spread attack.

Denver will win this game if they can run the ball effectively, contain Gronk to simply a good game instead of an extraordinary one, and consistently pressure Brady and knock balls down at the line.

New England will win this game if they can take away deep passes and throws outside the numbers from Manning. That will free them up to put extra players close to the line to stop the Broncos best threat: their rushing attack. Offensively, so long as the Pats protect the ball they should be fine. Josh McDaniels’ offense is great, and even though the Denver defense is more than up to the task, it’s hard to see how Brady won’t get his points.

This game will most likely come down to the Denver offense and the New England defense. One thing to keep an eye on is the Patriots Achilles heel: their nearly non-existent running game. They trust their run game so little that they abandoned it while running out the clock with a one score lead last week, and Brady nearly threw one of the costliest interceptions in recent playoff history.

Denver’s Achilles heel this season has been Peyton Manning.

His arm strength has been a major issue since his neck surgery, but it was his decision-making earlier this season is what made him look like the worst quarterback in the league. If the Peyton Manning from fall 2015 shows up, Sports Illustrated’s prediction will prove to be prescient.

If the Peyton of the last two games shows up, then this has all the makings of a classic.

Cover Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

What’s Old Is New Again: How The Rams Moved Back To LA And What It Really Means For NFL Fans

Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood, Universal Studios and Chaz Bono, now has its own professional football team once again.

A vote last week among NFL owners rendered the final nail in the coffin for St. Louis fans; their Rams will relocate to Los Angeles for the immediate 2016 season.

For owner Stan Kroenke, the 30-2 decision serves as a victory to return his team to their previous home. It’s been 21 years since the Rams played their last game in Los Angeles, in which time Kroenke has repeatedly criticized the economic and fan support put forward by St. Louis and will now cough up $550 million in order to leave the city.

Waiting for him, however, is one of the largest entertainment markets in the country and enticing plans for an alluring new $1.8 billion dollar stadium located in Inglewood, 10 miles from downtown L.A. Until the completion of the stadium in 2019, the Rams will make their home in the L.A. Coliseum.

The narrative is thrilling and nostalgic for former Los Angeles Rams fans—who claimed the team for the majority of its existence—but is far more somber for St. Louis fans, victims of yet another NFL team to jumped ship on the city.

In 1988, the St. Louis Cardinals (yes there was an NFL team called that too) left and relocated in Arizona. Now, despite the city’s proposal for a new $1.1 billion dollar stadium along the Mississippi River, St. Louis fans are left in the same position as they were almost thirty-years ago.

The city has long been at odds with Kroenke and the NFL. Last Wednesday, Mayor Francis Slay spoke out saying, “At this point I’m so frustrated and disappointed with the NFL.”

Slay went on to call the league “dishonest” and added that he has no desires to re-involve himself with the NFL.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will serve as the temporary home of the LA Rams until they open a new stadium in 2019. Photo Credit: InSapphoWeTrustFlickr (CC By 2.0)

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will serve as the temporary home of the LA Rams until they open a new stadium in 2019. Photo Credit: InSapphoWeTrustFlickr (CC By 2.0)

Kroenke’s feud with the city and its fans has continued despite the team’s departure. In an interview with the LA Times Kroenke stated that he wasn’t going to, “sit there and be a victim.”

However the move is not unlike many before it, leaving fans and taxpayers as the true victims.

The city and county will be forced to pay off bonds used to fund the stadium until 2021, but will do so without a team to cheer for. Instead, they’re left only with the memory of four winning seasons and one Super Bowl in the team’s tenure in St. Louis.

Fans in San Diego and Oakland may have reason to fear the same fate. Although the state of California will undoubtedly welcome its fourth NFL franchise in the near future, Commissioner Roger Goodell also gave the San Diego Chargers the option to jointly join the Rams in L.A.

The team has one year to accept the offer, which would then be passed to the Raiders should San Diego decline. Both teams were additionally granted a $100 million dollar incentive to build new stadiums in their current locations.

Only the coming months however, will prove whether or not the incentive money is enough to draw owner’s eyes away from the glamorous Los Angeles market. The league is about dollars and cents, and they will do anything to further their product.

The near future will also indicate whether the Rams’ move is a good one. Los Angeles undeniably offers economic opportunities, but it also carries its fair share of baggage. The results had in St. Louis will far from satisfy Los Angeles fans who have been spoiled over the years with the success of teams like the Lakers and Kings.

The fans, after all, they are the true life-blood of the league (whether they be in the seats or on the couch).

It’s time now for Stan Kroenke to deliver his new fans with a product that will succeed beyond the balance sheet.

Cover Photo Credit: Emmanuel_D Photography/Flickr (CC by 2.0).

NFL Playoffs Kicks Off With Four Exciting Matchups That Could Each Come Down To The Wire

The NFL playoffs kick off with a bang this weekend with a slate of four games that are expected to be fiercely competitive.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect in each of those games:

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) vs. Houston Texans (9-7) (Saturday 4:35pm ET, ABC)

After both enduring exceptionally odd seasons, it’s only fitting that these two teams would now meet in the playoffs. This game is a rematch of a Week one matchup where Kansas City took the game 27-20. That would be the last time that the Chiefs would win for over a month.

The Chiefs proceeded to lose their following five games and saw franchise running back Jamaal Charles go out in the midst of a 1-5 start.

That Week One matchup also propelled the Texans into a world of chaos, largely centered around the quarterback position. In their loss against the Chiefs, quarterback Brian Hoyer was pulled and replaced with Ryan Mallet. In total the Texans tried four different players under center this season before finally surrendering the position back to Brian Hoyer, who is expected to start on Saturday.

Both teams, however, were able to engineer turnarounds.

The Texans finished 8-3 over their last eleven games and secured the dreary AFC South with a 9-7 record.

The Chiefs closed their season in impressive fashion, winning ten straight and outscoring opponents 278 to 128 in the process.

Still without Charles, the Chiefs have found structure in the efficiency of quarterback Alex Smith and the consistency of their run game, which is sixth best in the league. On the contrary, Houston’s success this season has been predominantly anchored by JJ Watt and their defense. Though, while the Texan’s boast the third best defense, they are far better at defending against the pass.

The dynamics between these two teams should make for a hard-fought game.

The dynamics between these two teams should make for a hard-fought game. Although they carry a formidable rushing attack, the Chiefs supplement it well with their passing game.

New addition Jeremy Maclin adds an additional threat and is coming off a 1088 yard regular season. Although Smith doesn’t make a lot of eye popping plays, he’s exceptionally efficient and has the ability to escape pressure with his legs. The key for Houston will lie in disrupting the Kansas City offense, though they will also need a noteworthy performance from star wide out Deandre Hopkins if they’re going to capture the win.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) (Saturday 8:15 pm ET, CBS)

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Photo Credit: SteelCityHobbies/Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0).

In the playoffs, it’s hard to ask for anything better than a bitter and brutal rivalry game. The 12-4 Bengals, who were only one Denver loss away from a first round bye, now have to host their division counterparts and the third best offense in the league, the Steelers.

The two teams put forward an interesting regular season, splitting their series 1-1 with both teams winning on the other’s home field. The Steelers are victors of the most recent matchup, winning in Cincinnati 33-20 on December 13th.

The loss, however, handed the Bengals more than just a mark on their record as quarterback Andy Dalton left the game with a broken thumb.

Dalton has yet to return this season and will not start on Saturday.

Since that Week 14 game, quarterback A.J. McCarron has commanded the huddle and has thrown six touchdowns with two interceptions.

Preparing for the young quarterback is a Steelers defense that ranks third worst against the pass. Thus entails the opportunity for McCarron to hook up early and often with wide receiver A.J. Green. The wide out is capable of breaking big plays with 19 catches of 20+ yards this season and will terrorize Pittsburgh’s secondary all game.

Saturday will provide an interesting test for McCarron who won multiple BCS National Championships in his time at Alabama.

Saturday will provide an interesting test for McCarron who won multiple BCS National Championships in his time at Alabama. The quarterback has certainly proven himself proficient on a big stage, but will have to lead a Bengal team that has never won a playoff game in Marvin Lewis’ twelve-year tenure.

Even more capable of explosive plays is the Steeler offense led by Ben Roethlisberger and their passing attack.

The Bengals defense is one of the most consistently tough in the league, with a secondary that nabbed 21 interceptions this season, which ranks third in the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks (10-6) vs. Minnesota Vikings (11-5) (Sunday 1:05 pm ET CBS)

 

Seahawks at Ravens 12/13/15

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0).

It’s been an interesting season for the Seattle Seahawks, who initially looked hung-over off of a heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl 49 last year. Now, though, every indicator hints that the team has regained perhaps a supreme level of confidence.

At the head of the Seahawks recovery has been nothing short of a phenomenal effort put forth by quarterback Russell Wilson. In the last seven games Wilson has an astonishing 24 touchdowns with only one interception.

Although they lost running back Marshawn Lynch with an abdominal injury early in the season, the Seahawks offense has rallied around their quarterback and now ranks fourth best in total offense.

Sunday’s game will take place in Minnesota with a temperature forecasted at 2°F. The circumstances are courtesy of the Vikings season finale, a win in Green Bay where they firmly clinched the NFC North for the first time since 2009.

Although both teams have running backs that have been battling injuries, both Adrian Peterson and Lynch will likely play on Sunday.

Although both teams have running backs that have been battling injuries, both Adrian Peterson and Lynch will likely play on Sunday.

The two teams squared off fairly recently on December 6th, a brutally one sided 38-7 victory for the Seahawks. The Seattle defense held Adrian Peterson to only 18 rushing yards in the contest. The same defense now enters the playoffs ranked first in defending against the run and will look to have a repeat performance against the best running back in the league.

The bitter weather conditions may impact young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater- a Miami native, which will only help the infamous Legion of Boom.

Still, Vikings and Seahawks fans alike should be excited for a good game.

The Vikings seem to be following the blueprint that Seattle laid out two years ago in their Super Bowl pursuit; a heavy run game anchored by defense. Now, however, they must face a Seahawks team that looks equally as dominant and determined to recapture another Lombardi Trophy.

Green Bay Packers (10-6) vs. Washington Redskins (9-7) (Sunday 4:40 pm ET FOX)

Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

These two teams have perhaps been the two most surprising teams all year, but for very different reasons.

Entering the season the Redskins were almost entirely written off from the playoffs and Green Bay was a Super Bowl favorite, but you’ve got to love the beautiful unpredictability of the NFL.

As we sit now, Washington –although at a 9-7 record— has the higher seed and will host Green Bay in Sunday’s wildcard matchup. After years of the RGIII soap opera, this was the first season that quarterback Kirk Cousins was given full control of the starting job. Consequently, Cousins responded with a really solid season.

The quarterback has 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the year, but by far his best play has come as of late.

Since Week 10, Cousins has thrown 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions, a good sign for Redskins fans heading into the post season. He’s completing nearly 70% of his passes to a particularly deep and skilled receiving core.

The Packers, on the other hand, have widely disappointed this season. Their offense ranks 23rd in the league, an especially shocking statistic from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The simple fact is that Rodgers has been regularly beat up while dropping back this season.

While still putting up 31 touchdowns, Rodgers has been sacked 46 times this year, which is second only to Blake Bortles.

While still putting up 31 touchdowns, Rodgers has been sacked 46 times this year, which is second only to Blake Bortles.

This game has a good chance to be just as surprising and unpredictable as the two teams playing in it. Despite Green Bay’s offensive struggles, they will face one of the worst defenses in the league, an opportunity that may just open the doors for someone as great as Rodgers.

No doubt the Redskins are the hotter team entering this matchup, but Sunday’s contest presents opportunities for both teams.

Cover Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck/Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0).

Who Is Leading The Tom Brady vs. Cam Newton MVP Race?

By Nick Hickman

Last Sunday was disappointing for Carolina and New England fans as both watched their respective teams come up short in divisional games. The pair of losses brought the Panthers to 14-1 and the Patriots to 12-3, although both teams still sit comfortably with a clinched 1st round Playoff bye.

Additionally, both teams wield the two players leading this year’s MVP race in Tom Brady and Cam Newton, neither of which disappointed despite their team’s loss.

Entering the week with 480 passing touchdown in his career, Brady promptly tied Brett Favre’s record for most passing touchdowns for a singular team by connecting with James White in the fourth-quarter of Sunday’s game against the Jets. The 9-yard touchdown sent the game into overtime where the Jets pulled out the victory. Brady completed 22 of 31 passes and ended with one touchdown and an interception.

The Panthers entered last Sunday’s matchup against the Atlanta Falcons having put up 194 points in their last five games with an astonishing average of 38.8 per. The Falcons—who lost 38-0 in their week 14 matchup with the Panthers—undoubtedly had redemption in mind as they held the Panthers to only 13 points and a loss.

Still, however, Cam Newton found a way to stand out, which is beginning to seem all too easy for the 6’5”, 245 lb. phenom. On the opening drive of the game, Newton ran in his eighth touchdown rush this year, becoming the first player in NFL history with 30+ passing touchdowns and 8 rushing touchdowns in a season. The run also carried Newton to 41 career rushing touchdowns, tying him with San Francisco great Steve Young.

Tom Brady hopes to be at another one of these pre Super Bowl press scrums in a few weeks. Photo Credit: WEBN-TV/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Tom Brady hopes to be at another one of these pre Super Bowl press scrums in a few weeks. Photo Credit: WEBN-TV/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Breaking records seems like only but a pattern for Cam Newton. In the matchup with the Giants two weeks ago, Newton became the first player in history with 300+ passing yards, five touchdown passes and 100+ rushing yards in a single game. Additionally, the quarterback has been responsible for 61.19% of the Panthers points this season.

It seems too that we’ve now become burdened with finding new records for Cam Newton to break. Before losing to the Falcons, Newton was the first player to hold an undefeated 14-0 record in both college and the NFL. Heading into the playoffs in the month of December, Newton boasts a record of 17-4. It’s about time we finally start recognizing the level of greatness in front of us.

And true, there’s no denying the greatness of number 12 in New England. After winning and being awarded the MVP of Super Bowl XLIX, Brady entered a several month-long legal dispute with the NFL—and while it’s worth noting that Brady largely won the battle after having his suspension nullified, the rest of the details only lead to a migraine.

But without a suspension in place, the only reminisce of the Deflategate scandal is the fire in Brady’s belly that has helped lead his team to the best record in the AFC. After this Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots will start the 2016 Playoffs with a bye and will likely threaten another Super Bowl run.

However, just as likely is the reality that Newton’s Panthers will meet them there.

This is a setup far different from last years playoff picture in which the Panthers held a 7-8 record entering the postseason. Their season ended in a 31-17 loss against Seattle in the divisional round. This season, however, the Panther’s have already doubled their wins from last year.

When you watch him on the field it’s undeniable that Newton often resembles a man among boys, it’s the reason we call him Superman. In only his fifth NFL season, Newton is the only player to total five straight seasons with 3,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards. He averages 5.4 yards per rush, a feat desired by many NFL running backs.

Unlike many of his scrambling counterparts of the past, however, Newton has an impeccable ability to pass from the pocket and is second in the NFL in passing touchdowns with 33. It’s the combination of these two threats that make him so lethal.

“WHEN YOU WATCH HIM ON THE FIELD IT’S UNDENIABLE THAT NEWTON OFTEN RESEMBLES A MAN AMONG BOYS, IT’S THE REASON WE CALL HIM SUPERMAN.”

If you bring too much pressure on defense, Newton has the ability to pick your secondary apart. If you favor the passing and coverage game, you leave him the frightening possibility to run and make plays. He will beat you however he needs to.

With the best record in the NFL, there is no team that doesn’t take the Panthers seriously. It’s about time for us as fans, however, to attribute the Panthers and their quarterback the same level of respect. Newton is of a new breed. We have never seen such a combination of speed, strength, athleticism, skill and ability.

He’s taken his Panthers from a 7-8 record to a record of 14-1 and first place in the NFC. The man embodies the iconic image of a superstar and reminds us of so every time he selects a kid in the crowd and hands him his touchdown ball.

The race for NFL MVP is now nearing a finish line. Many more conversations and debates will be had, but nothing can take away from what we’ve already seen. The 2015 NFL season has given us many feats of excellence and excitement, including contributions from Brady.

However, the marathon that has already lasted 15 weeks has a clear frontrunner, and his name is Cam Newton.

Cover Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck/Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0).

Charles Woodson Announces Retirement After 18 Years Of Dominance

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Charles Woodson announced his retirement Monday from the NFL and his 18-year career will end with the Raiders final two games this season. “I’ve had an incredible career,” Woodson said. “It goes beyond words. I never intended on playing as long as I have, but this is the way it’s happened and I’m… Read More

Breaking Down How The Undefeated Carolina Panthers Have Gone 13-0

By David Brown

As the Carolina Panthers continue to extend a somewhat improbable undefeated season, the team has already clinched a playoff spot in the NFC with three weeks left to play and sit at number one in the power rankings.

After making the playoffs in a weak division in the 2014-2015 season, the Panthers went 7-8-1 where they lost in the second round to the Seattle Seahawks. Low expectations stuck with the Panthers through the offseason as sport analysts and writers doubted their legitimacy as real contenders.

The players and coaches responded accordingly.

With the team on the rise, head coach Ron Rivera is now a legitimate contender for coach of the year after the teams longest win streak in franchise history. Rivera’s offense has been deadly to opposing teams this year sitting at number one in points per game with 31.

Cam Newton’s play has been a determining factor in Carolinas undefeated season as he has stepped up significantly as a leader on and off the field. Newton is sixth in touchdowns thrown this year and is tied for sixth with seven rushing touchdowns.

Being nearly impossible to defend in the red zone, Newton has proven to be more than reliable this season in the passing game. The progress made has earned him a contending spot for MVP, although his stats aren’t at the top of the league, he has still been a clutch playmaker that has led his team to thirteen straight wins. Pretty hard to argue against those results.

As the offense is dabbing on the sidelines, the Carolina defense has shown elite status on the field as well.

Jonathan Stewart has also been a key contributor in the Panthers high scoring offense. Stewart is third in the league with 989 rushing yards and is second in the league with 242 attempts. Stewart has racked up five touchdowns and averages 79.2 yards per game and has continued to be a workhorse for this offense. It is worth noting that Stewart was injured last week with a sprained foot. He’ll miss the game this Sunday against the Giants but is expected to be fine for the playoffs.

Greg Olsen, one of the top tight ends in the NFL, leads the Panthers and all NFL tight ends in targets, being thrown the ball 107 times. Olsen leads the team in receiving yards with 969 and has pulled in six receiving touchdowns, second in the league among tight ends.

Throughout these 13 games the Panthers are first in the league in points per game and are second in the league for most rushing yards per game.

As the offense is dabbing on the sidelines, the Carolina defense has shown elite status on the field as well. Carolina’s D is third among yards per game and fourth in rushing yards per game. This defense is most dangerous in its turnover ratios.

The Panthers lead the league in takeaways with 33 total. With one of the top linebacker cores in the NFL, Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly lead the team with a combined 119 tackles and 17 turnovers. Both with high expectations to make the Pro Bowl. This defense only gives up an average of eighteen points per game, the lowest in the league.

This Carolina team’s surprise breakout year has led many to believe the squad as Super Bowl material. They seem to have all the components to be considered a Super bowl team and have proved that through their undefeated season.

As the season wraps up this team’s future is still a debate and it will be interesting to see them in the playoffs. Will the Panthers go undefeated? Could this be Carolina’s time to bring home the Lombardi trophy? Has Cam done enough to earn the MVP award? The Carolina Panthers proved everyone wrong, and yet, have so much more to prove.

Cover Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The New England Patriots Stand The Best Chance To Go Undefeated This Season Out Of Anyone

There are four NFL teams that are currently undefeated as we near the midway point in this season. But as history shows us, none of them stand much of a chance to finish the season without a loss.

Coming into play yesterday, there were five undefeated teams in the NFL. The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Carolina Panthers were all perfect through the first 7 weeks of the season.

The Packers and Broncos had to face each other on Sunday Night Football, which meant that one of those teams would certainly have their first loss of the season once Monday morning came around. The Packers ended up suffering their first loss as they were defeated 29 -10.

The big win improved Peyton Manning and his Broncos to 7 – 0. The Carolina Panthers play on Monday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts. With a win on Monday night, the Panthers will also become 7 – 0, which will leave 4 perfect teams remaining through the first 8 weeks of the season.

Although these teams would all like to remain perfect through the entire season, it is very unlikely that it will happen for any of them.

Read More: “Cause When You Say Miami, You’re Talking Super Troll”: Miami Is Selling Shirts About That Crazy Illegal Game Winning Play

The last team to have a perfect season was the 1972 Miami Dolphins as they finished 17 – 0. The team that came the closest to accomplishing perfection was the 2007 edition of the New England Patriots that went 17 – 1, with their loss coming in the Super Bowl in a classic game against the New York Giants.

With that being said, if I had to choose a team that has the best shot to go undefeated I would choose the Patriots.

Although this team is very different from the team that went 17 – 1 in 2007, there are two main constants. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Through the first 8 weeks of the season, the Patriots have looked close to unstoppable as a team (other than some struggles against the New York Jets).

Coming off their Super Bowl win against the Seattle Seahawks last season, the Patriots look like they haven’t missed a beat. They lead the NFL with 35.3 points per game. Their defense allows 19 points per game through their first 7 games, which is 9th in the NFL.

Tom Brady at age 38 is having one of the best, if not the best statistical season in his career so far. He’s thrown for 2,410 passing yards through 7 games this season with 20 touchdown passes and only 1 interception. He is also completing 68.9% of his passes which is better than his career average of 63.7%. Remarkable.

As for the rest of the team, Rob Gronkowski has been phenomenal with over 600 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.

Julian Edelman has been his same old reliable self, and the rest of the team is just following the lead of the Head Coach and star QB.

With all the early success so far this season, the team still has 9 games remaining on their regular season schedule. Although they should be favored in all of their games, they still have some tough games coming up. On November 15, they go into New York to face a tough Giants team lead by Eli Manning who has beaten the Patriots in two Super Bowls, 2008 and 2012.

As I stated before, in 2007 they ended the Patriots chances at an undefeated season with a classic Super Bowl win.

On November 29, the Patriots have to go into Denver to play a potentially undefeated Broncos team as well, which will be a showdown that can’t be missed. If the Patriots can make it to January 3 undefeated, the Miami Dolphins will be the final regular season game for the Patriots in Miami. The Dolphins will do everything that they can to not allow the Patriots to head into the playoffs with an undefeated record, because they want to remain the only franchise in history to have an undefeated team.

The talk of any team going undefeated this season is still premature. There is half a season left to play and so much can take place from now until the final week of the season.

It’s a long season, with many ups and downs for each team and a lot factors into being perfect. Besides having to be great every game you have to also hope for great team health, because one injury to a key player can really hurt a team’s chances in winning at all.

There is still a lot of time before we really should start talking about a team going undefeated, but it should be a fun second half of the season. One thing is for sure, the closer each team gets to being perfect the more pressure the team will face. And not every team shines bright under pressure.

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Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

BREAKING: Tom Brady Wins Deflategate Appeal, Will Play Start Of Season

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10:38 AM- According to court documents released today, NFL spent $3 million on investigation of Brady and the New England Patriots. Only to have the star quarterback face no loss of play.

10:33 AM- Click here to read U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman decision on Deflategate.

10:27 AM- Tom Brady will not miss the first four games of the NFL season according to multiple media reports after a district court judge overturned his league imposed suspension.

This is a developing story and we will update this post frequently.

 

 

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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