NFL

Assessing Threats to NFL's Undefeated Teams

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IOctober 7, 2013

Assessing Threats to NFL's Undefeated Teams

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Which teams have the best chance to unseat the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints from the ranks of the unbeatens? 

    Let's take a peak at the schedule of each 5-0 club and assign a "Threat Level" for each of the final 11 regular season games.

    The "Threat Level" of the individual contests will be assigned by color:

     

    Let's take a look at the remaining "Threat Levels" for the Broncos, Chiefs and Saints on a week-by-week basis.

Week 6

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Denver Broncos: vs Jacksonville Jaguars 

    This game could feature the largest point spread in NFL history. Peyton Manning and the Broncos look like the best team in football, while the Jaguars look like the worst. Denver should absolutely cruise. Be nice, team Twitter accounts

    Threat Level: Green

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: vs Oakland Raiders

    With the ultra-athletic and surprisingly accurate passer Terrelle Pryor under center, the Raiders are suddenly not the easiest team to play. On defense, Oakland's allowing a pedestrian 3.7 yards per carry. The Chiefs must exercise caution, but the home-field advantage will help big time.  

    Threat Level: Blue 

     

    New Orleans Saints: at New England Patriots

    Tom Brady against Drew Brees should be a blast, but both defenses are significantly improved from a season ago. The Saints offense will need to prove it can travel out of the friendly confines of the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. Another week without Rob Gronkowski for New England would certainly help the Saints.  

    Threat Level: Orange

Week 7

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Denver Broncos: at Indianapolis Colts

    Ah, yes, the "Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis" game. Should be nostalgic. Should be entertaining, too. The Broncos and Colts have been the most consistent and balanced teams in the AFC this season. This one could ultimately decide home-field advantage in the postseason. Oh, and Andrew Luck against Peyton. Yes, please. 

    Threat Level: Red

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: vs Houston Texans

    The Texans defense hasn't skipped a beat. But Matt Schaub, boy, Matt Schaub has struggled. Four straight pick sixes and a paltry 6.44 yards-per-attempt average has held back the AFC Super Bowl contender. This could be a defensive slugfest. 

    Threat Level: Orange

     

    New Orleans Saints: Bye

     

Week 8

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Denver Broncos: vs Washington Redskins 

    The Redskins aren't the easiest team to gauge at this point of the season. Robert Griffin III will likely continue to improve as the rust continues to fade away, but Washington's secondary will have an incredibly difficult time matching up with Denver's pass-catchers. 

    Threat Level: Blue

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: vs Cleveland Browns

    The Browns defense is no joke, but Cleveland's offensive efficiency should take a step back with Brandon Weeden under center. This may be another defensive battle for Kansas City. However, at home, the Chiefs should be able to win a low-scoring game. 

    Threat Level: Yellow

     

    New Orleans Saints: vs Buffalo Bills

    The Saints will come off the bye to face a Bills team that'll likely be without starting quarterback E.J. Manuel. Buffalo's defense has made significant strides from a year ago under coordinator Mike Pettine, but the Bills won't have enough offensive firepower to hang with Drew Brees and Co. in New Orleans.

    Threat Level: Green

Week 9

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Denver Broncos: Bye

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: at Buffalo Bills

    The Chiefs and Bills are built similarly. Both teams have an electric running back, they lean on their defenses and hope to win with game-managing quarterback play. The "Threat Level" of this game depends on EJ Manuel's availability. But in Buffalo, this won't be an easy game for Kansas City. 

    Threat Level: Orange

     

    New Orleans Saints: at New York Jets

    The Jets defensive front will be a formidable test for the Saints offensive line, that's for sure. Rob Ryan will dial up a variety of exotic blitzes against his brother's quarterback, Geno Smith. New Orleans can't go into this one too overconfident. 

    Threat Level: Blue

     

Week 10

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Denver Broncos: at San Diego Chargers

    Philip Rivers came back to Earth a bit against the Oakland Raiders, but Chargers head coach Mike McCoy has revitalized his quarterback's career. San Diego can score points yet struggle with efficiency. Denver should roll. 

    Threat Level: Blue

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: Bye

     

    New Orleans Saints: vs Dallas Cowboys

    The Cowboys seem to play to the level of their opponents, especially if their opponent scores points at will. Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten pose a legitimate threat here. We could be in for another shootout involving a Tony Romo-led offense. Would anyone complain about that? 

    Threat Level: Red

     

Week 11

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Denver Broncos: vs Kansas City Chiefs 

    It'd be pretty cool if this game was the for the lead in the division and conference and both teams were undefeated. No team has even slowed the Broncos offense this year, and up to this point in the season, the Chiefs would be the toughest defense Denver will hav played. 

    Threat Level: Yellow

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: at Denver Broncos

    At home, the Broncos will be clicking. The Chiefs defense is ferocious up front and has an assortment of athletic and disciplined secondary members. Can Alex Smith out-duel The Sheriff at home? Eh.

    Threat Level: Red

     

    New Orleans Saints: vs San Francisco 49ers

    The 49ers haven't gotten tremendous from quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but their offensive line is rounding into form, and the defense is shutting down opposing offenses without Patrick Willis. Even at home, the Saints will have to play a nearly perfect game to win. 

    Threat Level: Orange

     

Week 12

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Denver Broncos: at New England Patriots 

    Peyton Manning against his arch nemesis, Tom Brady. An NFL classic. Manning went 31-for-44 with 337 yards with three touchdowns against New England last year, but the Patriots ran the ball 54 times for 251 yards in the 31-21 win.

    It'll be interesting to see where New England's offense is in terms of efficiency at this juncture, but any time any team goes into Foxboro, it must play extremely well to win. 

    Threat Level: Orange

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: vs San Diego Chargers

    Unless the Chargers defense improves over the next month, the Chiefs should have the upper hand in this home game. Philip Rivers' offense is capable of hitting the big play on occasion, but Kansas City's pass-rush should be able to pin its ears back against San Diego.

    Threat Level: Yellow

     

    New Orleans Saints: at Atlanta Falcons

    It's usually quite compelling when the Falcons and Saints clash, and the game typically has major playoff implications. This contest will be no different. Playing in a dome will help Drew Brees, but if Atlanta's fully healthy, Matt Ryan's teams won't be a pushover. 

    Threat Level: Orange

     

Week 13

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Denver Broncos: at Kansas City Chiefs

    Playing inside Arrowhead Stadium isn't very fun for opposing teams, but Peyton Manning has played his fair share of games as a visitor in front of raucous crowds. Both teams should be vying for supremacy in the AFC West at this point, so the intensity should be turned up. 

    Threat Level: Red

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: vs Denver Broncos

    Defense, defense, defense. The Chiefs must feed of their crowd and stifle the Broncos offense while getting a few game-changing plays from Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster. 

    Threat Level: Red

     

    New Orleans Saints: at Seattle Seahawks

    Talk about a tough road game. The Seahawks are ridiculously stingy at home, and the Saints aren't nearly as effective away from New Orleans in outdoor games. This is  a major threat to New Orleans' bid for an undefeated season. 

    Threat Level: Red 

Week 14

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Denver Broncos: vs Tennessee Titans

    Even if Jake Locker is back from the hip injury he suffered against the New York Jets in Week 4, the Titans probably don't have the offensive weapons to stick with the Broncos in this one. However, Tennessee's defense is young and vastly underrated. 

    Threat Level: Blue

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: at Washington Redskins

    Much about this game seems like a trap. Out of conference, late in the season against somewhat of an enigmatic team with a young but special quarterback. 

    The Chiefs are better from top-to-bottom, but they must be careful in the nation's capitol.

    Threat Level: Yellow

     

    New Orleans Saints: vs Carolina Panthers

    The Panthers defensive front seven, led by linebacker Luke Kuechly, is a fine group, but the offense can't do much of anything. 

    Could Ron Rivera be fired by this point of the season? This should be a comfortable victory for the Saints. 

    Threat Level: Green

     

Week 15

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Denver Broncos: vs San Diego Chargers

    Hosting the Chargers should give the Broncos the necessary advantage to win by two or three touchdowns. However, if Denver is dinged up defensively and Philip Rivers gets hot, San Diego could hang in until the third or fourth quarter. 

    Threat Level: Blue

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: at Oakland Raiders

    The Raiders aren't as inept as they used to be, and by this point, Terrelle Pryor could really be a dangerous dual threat. In the Black Hole, the Chiefs will have to rely on their defense.

    Threat Level: Yellow

     

    New Orleans Saints: at St. Louis Rams

    The Rams appear to be in quarterback purgatory with Sam Bradford, and first-round pick Tavon Austin has been dramatically disappointing—offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can be blamed for Austin's struggles. In a dome, the Saints should hang 40+ points on a St. Louis defense that was supposed to thrive this season but hasn't.

    Threat Level: Green

Week 16

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Denver Broncos: at Houston Texans

    We aren't sure what state the Texans will be in by December, but if Matt Schaub doesn't regain his confidence, Houston may be one of the biggest 2013 flops. 

    J.J. Watt and his defensive mates will come to play at home, especially against Peyton's prolific offense. Denver is just the better overall team. 

    Threat Level: Blue

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: vs Indianapolis Colts

    This game could be for playoff positioning and will be a classic "great offense vs. great defense battle." With Andrew Luck running the Colts' Stanford-like attack, this late-season contest is a legitimate threat to Kansas City's unbeaten season if they survive both games against the Broncos. 

    Threat Level: Red

     

    New Orleans Saints: at Carolina Panthers

    At home, the Saints should scorch the Panthers defense, and Carolina's organization could be in the state of flux. Being on the road makes this game a bit of a sleeper, but New Orleans shouldn't have much trouble.

    Threat Level: Blue

     

Week 17

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Denver Broncos: at Oakland Raiders

    If the Broncos are 15-0 going into this game, will Peyton Manning sit or play? You can bet the Raiders will be "up" for this one.

    Threat Level: Blue

     

    Kansas City Chiefs: at San Diego Chargers

    The Chargers may be fighting for a playoff spot in the season finale, and the Chiefs could be playing for the AFC West title. In San Diego, Kansas City must proceed with caution.

    Threat Level: Yellow 

     

    New Orleans Saints: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The Buccaneers are a complete mess, but they only lost to the Saints by a point in Tampa Bay in September. In New Orleans, though, Drew Brees and his offense will piece together another huge statistical performance to gain plenty of momentum heading into the playoffs.

    Threat Level: Green

     

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