By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
In 2007, the NFL saw the New England Patriots run the table in the regular season, going 16-0. In 2008, the Detroit Lions set their own record, becoming the first team in NFL history to go 0-16. Two straight years, two different achievements. With the NFL season beginning the second half, three teams have the chance to follow in those famous (or infamous) steps. Both the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints hold perfect records at 7-0, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit on the other end at 0-7. But which team has the best shot at fame or infamy?
The Indianapolis Colts very quickly could have been 0-2 at the start of the season, but squeaked by Jacksonville and Miami, respectively. Then they went on a run that has given rookie head coach Jim Caldwell the best start for a rookie head coach since the AFL-NFL merger. While they recently came upon a scare against San Francisco, behind the arm of Peyton Manning (2227 yards, 15 TDs, six 300+ yard passing performances), and a stifling defense (13.0 ppg average leads league, ninth in yards allowed per game at 292.1), Indianapolis has the talent to run the table.
Their schedule proves to be a little more challenging to allow them a perfect season. Two games against the resurgent Houston Texans, along with matchups against Baltimore, Denver, the New York Jets (playoff potential matchup for NY), and of course, the annual faceoff against New England. Both Baltimore and Houston are away games, which can bring a hostile crowd. But, with Peyton Manning behind Center, Indianapolis always has a shot, but I’d put them second in the race to 16-0.
The New Orleans Saints are having a year no one expected, unless you are a Saints fan. Outside of an eight point win against Atlanta last week, the Saints have destroyed the opposition. With the NFL’s highest scoring offense (39 ppg), and the leader in offense (428.7 ypg), the Saints put the ball up, and score at will, despite a defense that ranks in the bottom half of most categories.
The offense will win the games, but the defense will need to step up, especially with matchups at New England and Atlanta still looming. However, they still have five matchups left against NFC South foes, and the Dallas Cowboys are still on the schedule. While I won’t give the Saints the title outright, they are the odds on favorite to go 16-0.
On the other end, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and their first year coach Raheem Morris, are taking the term “rebuilding year” to a whole new level. They are in the bottom half of the key offensive and defense statistical categories, and outside of a close game against Washington, have lost by at least a touchdown in all their other games. There only bright spot is newcomer TE Kellen Winslow, with 295 yards and four touchdowns, leads the team. They have more or less thrown in the towel, moving to rookie QB Josh Freeman as the starter.
Can Freeman snap the slump? Tampa does not hold the easiest second half schedule. Atlanta and New Orleans twice each head up the toughest portion. However, two games come to mind as possibly winnable. Carolina only beat Tampa by a score, and their offense has been dysfunctional at best. Seattle has had injuries to deal with and could be looking to the future, making this a possible win, and keeping Tampa from being the second team to go 0-16. However, with the way Tampa is playing, they have the strongest odds at a zero in their record.
Looking at the three teams and there schedule, I would bet Tampa has the better chance to go 0-16 before New Orleans and Indianapolis go 16-0.