Is it possible? Could not one, but two teams go undefeated in the regular season and then each make a run to the Super Bowl?
It would be the NFL's perfect scenario. After witnessing the ratings boon that was the 2007 New England Patriots during their near perfect run, the stage is being set for the NFL to double its pleasure with the 9-0 New Orleans Saints and the 9-0 Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts are lucky to be 9-0 at this moment, having survived what seemed to be a certain loss on Sunday night at home against their archrival, the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning pulled yet another rabbit out of his hat, leading the Colts back in the fourth quarter for a 35-34 win.
Of course, such a miraculous comeback rarely occurs without some controversy. Leading by six with barely two minutes left in the game, the Patriots decided to go for it on 4th-and-2 from their own 28-yard line rather than punt. The play, a quick pass to running back Kevin Faulk, was complete but ruled short of the first down despite forward progress.
The Colts had the ball, needing only 29 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown.
Clearly, had the Patriots converted on fourth down, the dagger would have been driven into the Colts. The game would have been over. Instead, Faulk was ruled less than a yard short of the first down. The Colts went on to win.
Why didn't the Pats punt, forcing Manning and the Colts to drive the length of the field to win, rather than giving them an extremely short field with which to work? It is a decision that will be debated for the rest of the season.
What this victory does for the Colts is set the team up to run the table on the remainder of their schedule. The games left for the Colts are @ Baltimore, @ Houston, vs. Tennessee, vs. Denver, @ Jacksonville, vs. New York Jets, and @Buffalo.
Meanwhile, the undefeated Saints survived a scare against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. But a scare is not a loss. This leaves the Saints with a schedule of @ Tampa Bay, vs. New England, @ Washington, @ Atlanta, vs. Dallas, vs. Tampa Bay, @ Carolina.
That is slightly more difficult of a schedule than what the Colts face, but the Saints' monstrous offense could swallow any of those foes—even the Patriots, especially if Bill Belichick continues to make strange decisions as he did Sunday night.
So let's play the what-if game. What if both the Colts and the Saints win out? Both would have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Coupled with a first round bye, that may be all either team needs to walk through the playoffs. Then what?
What if each team does exactly that? What if not one, but two undefeated teams win their respective conferences? What if the Super Bowl features a match in which one team is not only guaranteed to be crowned the world's champion but can be the first team in NFL history to go 19-0?
How happy would the NFL be? How huge would the hype be? How would this not become not just the most watched football game in history, but the most watched televised program in world history?
There are still seven weeks left in the regular season and a lot of playoff football left to be played, but the surviving members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins can't uncork that champagne just yet.
The NFL may be spinning its ultimate dream season right here in 2009.
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