Just win, baby!
As we head in to Week 6 of the regular season, six teams still hold a perfect record. It’s still too early to suggest one of these teams will make it to the end of the season without incurring a loss, but who is likely to hold on to that perfect 1.000 PCT the longest?
Disclaimer: As will become obvious, I wrote this piece ahead of Thursday Night’s game in the Big Easy and, well, probably should have published it before then too! It just goes to show, you never can be totally sure of what’s around the corner with this sport that we love. Not one to shy away from my opinion however, I thought I’d share anyway! Any Given Sunday (or Thursday in this case!) and all that. Anyway, back to the article…
Here’s my take on how I think they’ll fall, starting with:
Carolina Panthers (4-0)
Unbeaten on the season and coming in to the weekend off the back of your bye week is sure to put a spring in your step, but the Panthers will need all the spring they can get as their first game back sees them travelling to CenturyLink to take on the Seattle Seahawks – by far the toughest test they’ll have faced so far this season.
Cam Newton has done an admiral job yet again of carrying an offense lacking in weapons and having faced opposition with a combined record of 5-15 so far has certainly helped, but he’ll be up against a much tougher proposition in the form of the Seahawks defense this week.
The Seahawks have had their own issues on both sides of the ball this year, but they are still a very difficult team to beat at home and will be looking to get their season back to .500 this weekend.
Perfect record surrendered: Week 5
Denver Broncos (5-0)
The following statement probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this – the only reason the Denver Broncos are 5-0 is their defense. Period.
Peyton Manning, as I and my fellow Gents have maintained for some time now, is playing beyond his ‘Use by’ date and is a shadow of the QB he should be remembered as. He is far beyond his prime and visibly struggling every week to make anything close to a deep throw. There is no run game to speak of to help him out either, and I think it will only be a matter of time before the resultant pressure from opposing defenses finally gets to Manning with the inevitable big hit.
The result is the Broncos are averaging less than 21 points per game this season, but their defense has to date made sure that is enough (holding opponents to an average of just 17.6 per game). The problem with that scenario is it is only a matter of time before the defense fails to hold up Manning et al, and that’s not too far away in my opinion.
The Broncos travel to the Browns this week and the secondary will likely be busy against Josh McCown and his current trend of trying to throw for a 1,000 yards in a game but I think it’s the week after that will be a test too far for that defense.
The Broncos host the Green Bay Packers in Week 8 and (spoiler alert) they are undoubtedly one of the best two teams in the League right now. Rodgers is playing on another level and his front 5 are doing a good job of protecting him. He won’t be offering up much for that Denver defense to feast on.
The only way I see Denver winning against them would be to get in to a shootout and that just isn’t going to happen with Peyton at the controls.
Perfect record surrendered: Week 8
Prior to Sunday, I possibly would have made an argument for the Falcons running the perfect season this year. They have already played the toughest of their opponents this year already and, outside of the divisional games, don’t look to have a tough game to come, on paper at least.
Having seen them against Washington on Sunday however, where they narrowly escaped their first defeat of the year in their own back yard, I’m no longer sure they can be relied on to win games you’d expect them to win.
Matt Ryan had a down day and Washington did a good job of playing solid coverage and taking away several of his weapons for a large part of the game. That is something you can be sure teams will study closely and look to replicate.
The Falcons are yet to play a divisional game and, whilst they aren’t exactly in the toughest division in football right now, you never can tell what will happen in a divisional match up.
Their first is actually this week when they travel to New Orleans for Thursday Night Football but I’m not sure the Saints are ready to take advantage just yet, so I see the Falcons at least making Week 9 unbeaten.
From there, they face the 49ers, Colts and Vikings before heading back in to divisional contests. I’m not entirely sure where the loss will come as a lot will depend on how the season develops for the up and down 49ers and Colts, but I think it is somewhere among these three games.
Given I can’t decide which, and don’t want to be seen as a (complete) homer, I’ll opt for the middle of the three and say the Colts find a way to win.
Perfect record surrendered: Week 11(ish)*
*turned in to quite a big -ish!
Cincinnati Bengals (5-0)
The Bengals have had talent on both sides of the ball for a few years now, but especially in the last two. They got off to a 3-0 start last season, headed in to the bye week, and then won only two of the next six games before ending up with a 10-5-1 record on the year. They made the Play-Offs but, well, we all know what happens when the Bengals make the Play-Offs.
This year however, Andy Dalton is playing better than he ever has (yes Dan, I said it) and they are finding ways to win games that would previously have seen them fold. Last Sunday was a prime example of this when they trailed the Seahawks by 17 heading in to the 4th Quarter, yet fought back to take the game to overtime and ultimately secure the win.
They face two road games over the next three weeks with visits to Buffalo and Pittsburgh separated by their bye week, and the second of these is almost enough for me to have them losing their perfect record in Week 8, but I think the divisional match up will be one they definitely won’t want to surrender without more of that fighting spirit being on show and come away with the win.
After that it’s two home games against the hot and cold Browns and lackluster Texans, before they hit the road again to head to Arizona. The Cardinals are undoubtedly a contender this year and I think their high-powered offense and swarming defense will prove to be a step too far for Dalton and the Bengals on the road.
Perfect record surrendered: Week 11
That leaves us at Week 12 with, in my opinion, two perfect records still in tact.
The New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, both standing tall at 10-0.
So who blinks first?
The Packers have to host the Cowboys and travel to the Raiders and Cardinals, as well as play each of their divisional rivals. Lambeau is never an easy place to go, especially so in December, so that may well make a difference. That leaves just the Cardinals as an obstacle for the Packers to negotiate in my opinion.
With the NFC West possibly being a close fought contest that comes down to the wire, Arizona could realistically be playing for home field advantage so it will be a tough test and could trip up the Packers.
The Patriots have one more road game than Green Bay, travelling to Denver, Houston, New York (Jets) and Miami, as well as visits from the Eagles and Titans. That’s a difficult finish to a long season and plenty of potential banana skins waiting to happen if the Patriots have an off day or are without some key figures.
Neither team look like they are even close to beatable at the moment (yes, I know it is only Week 6!) but, when the business end of the season rolls around, it would take a monumental effort for either team to escape unscathed I think.
That said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see a 16-0 record come January.
Agree? Think I’m way off? Hit me up on Twitter (@headedforhades) and let me know what you think.