Green Bay Packers Undefeated Season: How Other 13-0 Teams Ended Their Season
Aaron Rodgers is having one of the most productive seasons in NFL history and has a chance to break several prominent passing records. He is within reaching distance of Tom Brady's single season touchdown pass record and Dan Marino's record of 5,084 passing yards in a season.
Breaking some of those records would make it a historic season for Rodgers, but the Packers are chasing more prominent milestones and ones that could seal their status as the greatest team in NFL history.
Their current 19 game winning streak is the second longest in NFL history. If they finish the regular season with 16 wins they will surpass the 21 game record held by the 2003-2004 New England Patriots.
The 2011 Green Bay Packers are only the eighth team in NFL history to win their first 13 regular season games. Only one team that reached that mark failed to play in the final game of their season.
1934 Chicago Bears
These Bears were the first team in NFL history to end the regular season with an unbeaten record. Led by the Hall of Fame backfield of Bronko Nagurski and Red Grange, Chicago won their first nine games by at least 13 points.
Their dominance began to fade by the end of the season when they only won their last four games by a total of 10 points.
The 13-0 Bears meet the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game and had all but wrapped up their perfect season with a 13-3 lead in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Giants turned the game into a rout by scoring three touchdowns late in the game including two from future Hall of Famer Ken Strong.
This wouldn't be the only time an unbeaten Bears team lost in the title game. Their 1942 team was 11-0 until they were beaten by the Washington Redskins in the NFL Championship Game.
It also wouldn't be the only time that a Giants team spoiled a perfect season in the title game.
1948 Cleveland Browns
This was before their NFL days, but the Cleveland Browns did go 14-0 during their 1948 season in the All-America Football Conference. Paul Brown's franchise joined the NFL in 1950 and appeared in 10 consecutive championship games from 1946-1955, winning seven of them.
1972 Miami Dolphins
Don Shula's Dolphins set a standard for perfection in pro football four decades ago that has yet to be matched by any team since. These Dolphins may not have been the most star-studded group in NFL history, but their 17-0 mark will always keep them in the discussion as one of the best teams of all time. Several teams have come close to matching their accomplishment, but none have been able to stop the 1972 Dolphins from eventually spraying champagne bottles.
1998 Denver Broncos
After finally ending their championship drought the previous year, John Elway and the Broncos entered the 1998 season as heavy favorites to bring another Lombardi trophy to the Rockies.
They quickly proved their status as a championship contender and became one of the first teams in years with a serious chance of finishing the season with a perfect record. Denver won nine of their first 13 games by at least 13 points.
Their bid for an unbeaten season was denied after a 20-16 Week 15 loss on the road in the Meadowlands against the New York Giants. The Broncos lost again the following week in Miami against Dan Marino and the Dolphins.
While their shot at perfection was over, Denver's chance at a repeat was not. The Broncos beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-21 in their regular season finale and ended the season with a second consecutive Super Bowl win after a 34-19 rout over the Atlanta Falcons.
2005 Indianapolis Colts
After losing to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons (as well as going winless in the preseason) many felt that 2005 was finally going to be the year that Peyton Manning got his Super Bowl ring.
The Colts began the season 7-0 and it seemed like it was finally going to be their championship season after they beat the New England Patriots 40-21 on Monday Night Football.
As the season progressed the conversation slowly went from can the Colts finally win it all? to can the Colts can unbeaten? This speculation at times overshadowed the fact that Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy had yet to bring a title to Indiana.
Their unbeaten season was denied after back-to-back losses in Weeks 15 and 16 and their championship season ended after a shocking upset against the sixth seed and eventual Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers.
The championship shortcomings ended the following season in Indianapolis, but this was not the only time that a Colts team chased perfection.
2007 New England Patriots
After losing the AFC Championship Game to the Indianapolis Colts, the Patriots completely revamped their offense in the offseason.
New England started the season on a tear by scoring at least 34 points in their first eight games and at least 48 points in three of those games.
Many were ready to proclaim this team as the best team of all time after such a dominant first half. The undefeated talk surrounding the 2007 New England Patriots was much greater than the current discussion about whether or not the current Green Bay Packers can win all their games.
The Patriots remained the only unbeaten team in the league after a 24-20 win over the 8-0 Colts in Week 9 and managed to finish the regular season 16-0, despite some close calls towards the end such as their 38-35 win over the Giants in Week 17.
That same Giants team would be the only blemish for the Patriots that season after they suffered a 17-14 upset in Super Bowl XLVII. The Patriots were able to beat the Giants in the preseason and regular season, but couldn't seal the deal with the season on the line.
The New York Giants just seem to have a knack for ruining undefeated seasons for teams.
2009 New Orleans Saints
After a surprising 2006 season in which they won the NFC South, the Saints failed to make the playoffs during the next two seasons.
The hiring of Greg Williams as defensive coordinator and the additions of Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper helped to improve the Saints defense immensely.
It was still far from elite, but this defense was one of the best in the league at creating turnovers and making big plays.
The Saints won their first 13 games, but then lost their final three. No team had ever won the Super Bowl after losing their last three regular season games.
New Orleans won their last three games of the season and beat a team in the Super Bowl that started out the 2009 season with an even better mark...
2009 Indianapolis Colts
Tony Dungy retired after the 2008 season, but the Colts didn't slow down at all under the leadership of Jim Caldwell. The Colts became only the third team in NFL history to win their first 14 games of the year.
At one point that season it looked like both the Saints and Colts were on course for a Super Bowl between unbeaten teams.
After the Saints lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-17 in Week 15, the Colts were the lone unbeaten team in the NFL.
In their 15th game of the season, the Colts were trailing the New York Jets late in the game (with the game still in reach) when Jim Caldwell proceeded to take most of his starters out of the game, much to the dismay of Colts fans.
Down 24-17 with about three minutes to play, Indianapolis chance for a second Super Bowl win in four seasons was still alive until Tracy Porter's pick-six sealed a title for New Orleans.
2011 Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are 13-0 and a perfect season is a strong possibility. The Packers have a road game this weekend against the 5-8 Kansas City Chiefs, before ending the season with home games against the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.
Although the Chiefs are a last place team, nothing is guaranteed. Three teams with a 13-0 record (1998 Broncos, 2005 Colts, and 2009 Saints) lost their 14th game of the season and not all those teams won a Super Bowl.
The discussion of a perfect season will continue to grow as long as the Packers continue to win, but the success of their season will ultimately be determined by winning or losing the Super Bowl (or not making the game at all).
If the 2011 Green Bay Packers are able to accomplish both perfection and a championship, then a new discussion can begin about whether or not this is the best NFL team of all time. That's something Mercury Morris and some of the other 1972 Dolphins don't want to think about.