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NFL Perfection: Will Anyone Join the '72 Miami Dolphins?

Michael BrumaginCorrespondent IIISeptember 22, 2012

NFL Perfection: Will Anyone Join the '72 Miami Dolphins?

1 of 7

    Two weeks into the 2012 NFL season and there are only six undefeated teams remaining. The six teams still standing tall are the San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals

    Do any of them have what it takes to join the 1972 Miami Dolphins in Perfectville? What are the obstacles that each of them faces?

    Let's start things off by setting the record straight, the '72 Dolphins played a shorter season—only 14 games—before fighting their way through the playoffs. So, off the bat, any team attempting to reach perfection in the NFL since the '78 season is already facing an uphill climb.

    Additionally, the football played today is not the same as the football of yesteryear. There have been countless rule changes, equipment has gotten better, the league has expanded (three times—by six teams) and talent has gotten better.

    Considering all that has changed, going for perfection may be much harder now than it ever was then. But, let's not diminish what the '72 Dolphins accomplished. In 46 seasons (since the AFL-NFL merger before the 1966-67 season), they are the only team to have ever completed a perfect season.

    In numbers, that means that over 46 seasons a total of 1,259 teams have attempted to win every Sunday, with only one accomplishing that feat. That is a success rate of less than .08%. To repeat, that is less than eight hundredths of one percent. 

    Needless to say, the odds aren't favorable, but let's entertain the notion anyway.



     

San Diego Chargers

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    Before we prognosticate on the future of the 2012 San Diego Chargers, let's take a look at their remaining schedule.

    WK

    TEAM

     

    WK

    TEAM

    3

    ATLANTA FALCONS

     

    11

    Denver Broncos

    4

    Kansas City Chiefs

     

    12

    BALTIMORE RAVENS

    5

    New Orleans Saints

     

    13

    CINCINNATI BENGALS

    6

    DENVER BRONCOS

     

    14

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    7

    BYE

     

    15

    CAROLINA PANTHERS

    8

    Cleveland Browns

     

    16

    New York Jets

    9

    KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

     

    17

    OAKLAND RAIDERS

    10

    Tampa Bay Bucs

     

     

     

    The two biggest detractors to the Chargers making a run at perfection, aside from their usual early season collapses, would be their matchup against the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons this week and the fact that they play against the AFC North this season.

    The Broncos, who finished last season as the division leaders with only an 8-8 record, will be more competitive than last year's team or early predictions of Peyton Manning's health may have predicted. That may be another obstacle for San Diego.

    Based on some interesting calculations and projections by Beyond the Bets (henceforth referred to as BTB), the Chargers have the 8th easiest schedule in the league. Bear in mind that these calculations were made in July and do not factor in any recent developments (i.e. injuries, outstanding rookies, bounty suspensions or resurgent veterans).


    Prediction:  Defeated. The Chargers' path to perfection has too many obstacles, even with what sports books are saying is an easy schedule. Their past history of inconsistent play coupled with the offseason free agent loss of Vincent Jackson makes it too hard to see an undefeated season in San Diego.



     

Houston Texans

3 of 7

    Let's take a look at the Houston Texans remaining schedule:

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    TEAM

     

    WK

    TEAM

    3

    Denver Broncos

     

    11

    JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

    4

    TENNESSEE TITANS

     

    12

    Detroit Lions

    5

    New York Jets

     

    13

    Tennessee Titans

    6

    GREEN BAY PACKERS

     

    14

    New England Patriots

    7

    BALTIMORE RAVENS

     

    15

    INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

    8

    BYE

     

    16

    MINNESOTA VIKINGS

    9

    BUFFALO BILLS

     

    17

    Indianapolis Colts

    10

    Chicago Bears

     

     

     

    BTB projects the Texans as having the 4th easiest schedule in the NFL. That sounds great if you are a Texan, but, as we all know, this is the National Football League—nothing is easy.

    Just looking at the remaining games, Houston has plenty to worry about. Discounting their divisional away games (at Titans and Colts), they go on the road to face the Jets, Bears, Lions and Patriots.

    Additionally, playing host to the Packers and Ravens in back-to-back weeks will test the fortitude of their top-ranked defense.

    Can the Texans defense (sans Mario Williams) keep up with the fast tempo, no-huddle offenses that Green Bay and Baltimore run? We'll have to wait three more weeks to find out.

    What Houston has going for them that increases their chances is their running game. With the dual threat of Arian Foster and Ben Tate, the Texans can wear down defenses and control the clock. That should help immensely against teams with high-powered passing offenses.

    And, with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson powering the Texans' air attack, they can confidently play from behind.

    The Texans may be one of the most complete teams in the league, but the Ravens just might be as well. 

    Prediction:  Defeated. Like the Chargers, despite what metrics and predictions say about their schedule, reality says they most likely won't get past Week 7 without a blemish.

    But, in the chance that they do make it to their bye week unscathed, things could get very interesting. In their last nine games, they have but three worrisome opponents: Chicago, Detroit and New England. All three, thus far in 2012, have shown weaknesses in their armor and can be slain.

    The Texans may not go undefeated, but they will be one of the teams to watch every Sunday. Time will tell if their balanced attack and top ranked defense will help them stay the course to Perfectville.



     

Atlanta Falcons

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    The Falcons have such a perfectly balanced schedule to look at:  away, home, away, home, back and forth, ebb and flow.

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    TEAM

     

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    TEAM

    3

    San Diego Chargers

     

    11

    ARIZONA CARDINALS

    4

    CAROLINA PANTHERS

     

    12

    Tampa Bay Bucs

    5

    Washington Redskins

     

    13

    NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

    6

    OAKLAND RAIDERS

     

    14

    Carolina Panthers

    7

    BYE

     

    15

    NEW YORK GIANTS

    8

    Philadelphia Eagles

     

    16

    Detroit Lions

    9

    DALLAS COWBOYS

     

    17

    TAMPA BAY BUCS

    10

    New Orleans Saints

     

     

     

    The sports books over at BTB are betting on the Falcons, whom they project to have the 9th easiest schedule.

    Prediction:  Defeated. The Atlanta Falcons' play, while winning, has been inconsistent. Their offensive attack is no longer balanced, ranking 26th in the league in running yards per game—as Michael Turner is not what he once was.

    While their pass defense has been stellar—14th in yards allowed and ranked first in interceptions after two weeks, their run defense has been paltry.

    If they can't make adjustments, they are bound to have serious problems against teams with a more balanced attack both offensively and defensively. Playing as they are now, it will be really hard for them to make it past week 10 without at least one loss.



     

Arizona Cardinals

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    Starting first with the Arizona Cardinals, a look at their schedule [below].

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    TEAM

     

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    TEAM

    3

    PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

     

    11

    Atlanta Falcons

    4

    MIAMI DOLPHINS

     

    12

    ST. LOUIS RAMS

    5

    St. Louis Rams

     

    13

    New York Jets

    6

    BUFFALO BILLS

     

    14

    Seattle Seahawks

    7

    Minnesota Vikings

     

    15

    DETROIT LIONS

    8

    SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

     

    16

    CHICAGO BEARS

    9

    Green Bay Packers

     

    17

    San Francisco 49ers

    10

    BYE

     

     

     

    With games against the AFC East, NFC North and division contests against the 49ers, the Cardinals are facing an uphill climb.

    Prediction:  Defeated. While they are off to a good early start on the season with a solid win in division against the Seahawks and what many consider to be an upset over the Patriots, Arizona should be lucky if they finish with an 8-8 record.

    Their schedule is quite brutal (rated as the 7th hardest among all NFL teams by BTB), and their team is not nearly as complete and balanced as some of the others still sitting at 2-0.



     

Philadelphia Eagles

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    The enigmatic Philadelphia Eagles. This team is very hard to get a good read on. Some weeks Michael Vick is immaculate and looks every bit deserving of his $100 million dollar contract, and some weeks his play is a disaster. The same can be said of their Wide-9 defense. Some games everything clicks and they dominate their opponents, and some games they are out of position and getting beaten for big plays.

    There remaining schedule looks like this:

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    TEAM

     

    WK

    TEAM

    3

    Arizona Cardinals

     

    11

    Washington Redskins

    4

    NEW YORK GIANTS

     

    12

    CAROLINA PANTHERS

    5

    Pittsburgh Steelers

     

    13

    Dallas Cowboys

    6

    DETROIT LIONS

     

    14

    Tampa Bay Bucs

    7

    BYE

     

    15

    CINCINNATI BENGALS

    8

    ATLANTA FALCONS

     

    16

    WASHINGTON REDSKINS

    9

    New Orleans Saints

     

    17

    New York Giants

    10

    DALLAS COWBOYS

     

     

     

    Prediction:  Defeated. The Eagles have all of the talent necessary to have a big season; they also have the 13th easiest schedule according to BTB. They also, as previously stated are the most unpredictable team to watch. For that reason, it is hard to be confident in anything other than a positive season. Their schedule this year is fairly tame. If they can at least manage to split their division, they will most likely make the playoffs. A 10-win season should be quite manageable, and anything beyond that is more than possible should they play to their potential.



     

San Francisco 49ers

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    The Niners are like the Texans, a well-balanced machine. With Frank Gore powering the run game; Alex Smith looking and playing like a Pro Bowl quarterback; and Patrick Willis quarterbacking the defense, they look like a lock to win the whole NFC.

    They also have a pretty favorable schedule (rated 7th easiest by BTB), as seen below.

    WK

    TEAM

     

    WK

    TEAM

    3

    Minnesota Vikings

     

    11

    CHICAGO BEARS

    4

    New York Jets

     

    12

    New Orleans Saints

    5

    BUFFALO BILLS

     

    13

    St. Louis Rams

    6

    NEW YORK GIANTS

     

    14

    MIAMI DOLPHINS

    7

    SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

     

    15

    New England Patriots

    8

    Arizona Cardinals

     

    16

    Seattle Seahawks

    9

    BYE

     

    17

    ARIZONA CARDINALS

    10

    ST. LOUIS RAMS

     

     

     

    Prediction:  Defeated. The San Francisco 49ers are scary good. They could probably win every game, but they will probably have a couple close ones against New York, New Orleans or New England. They may have a few early scares against lesser teams or upstarts in their own division (like Arizona or Seattle).

    As solid as their team is, they should finish with a record no worse than 13-3, but could go for a 15-1 finish just as well.



     

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