With New Orleans' win over the Patriots on Monday night, an interesting scenario is taking shape for the playoffs this year. With two teams at 11-0, and neither having to face the other the remainder of the year, there is potential for a matchup of two undefeateds in the Super Bowl.
Is this a crazy thought, or does it have a significant shot of coming to fruition?
In the AFC, Indianapolis has already clinched a playoff berth. With three more wins, they guarantee themselves the top seed in the playoffs, since no other team in the conference has fewer than three losses.
Garnering a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the playoffs, with the associated bye in the first round, is typically a significant advantage.
But does Indy have a shot at winning out?
The remaining opponents for the Colts have a combined record of 27-28. However, of their five remaining opponents, four teams are effectively in a must-win situation if they want to have any hope for a playoff bid.
Tennessee at 5-6 is probably the biggest long shot statistically, but the way they are playing right now, it would be foolish to rule them out completely.
There is also Jacksonville, who at 6-5 is in a virtual dog fight with Tennessee for second place in their division.
The teams split their series this year, so wins are critical; a loss by Jacksonville still gives them the lead in the tiebreaker, but two losses, coupled with Tennessee running the table, puts the Jaguars on the outside looking in.
Denver is safe at the fifth seed right now, but at 7-4 they are one loss away from potentially falling into a tie with three other teams at 6-5.
Also, not only did they split the series with San Diego—the current AFC West leader—but it is relatively safe to say that at least one of the three teams at 6-5 will win next week.
Drop a game, and Denver has to go to the tiebreaker just to have a shot at a wild card berth.
I can't speak for everyone, but I for one have given up trying to figure out how those darned things are figured. It's much simpler just to win outright and eliminate the guesswork.
Finally, the Jets at 5-6 are two games back from their division leaders, but still statistically have a shot. Ten wins might just be enough to make it to the playoffs this year, so tie-breakers are going to be key.
In other words, the road to the Super Bowl may indeed run through Indy this year, but they are going to have to fight to get to the end without a loss.
Over in the NFC are the high-flying New Orleans Saints. Monday night's game was indicative of how their season has gone: They faced a team that in recent years has been a tough opponent, and reduced them to an average squad at best.
And the remainder of their schedule doesn't exactly throw up any major roadblocks.
The Saints' remaining opponents boast a combined record of 22-33, with only one team posing a significant threat.
And Atlanta, while not yet mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, trails New Orleans in their division and has already lost to the Saints once this year.
In other words, New Orleans' toughest opponent for the remainder of their season will be themselves. If they can stay focused, then 16-0 is a real possibility.
All things considered, it is probably a long shot to think that both Indy and New Orleans will make it to the postseason, much less the Super Bowl, with an unblemished record.
But hey, this has been a season of unprecedented events. Why not wish for one more?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!