Monday, November 5, 2007

Perfection: 16-0 or 0-16

Let's face it, if you were watching football at 4 o'clock (EST) yesterday then you really didn't have an option to watch anything but the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts meet in what was the battle of the remaining undefeated teams. In fact, somehow the term Super Bowl 41.5 showed it's ugly face again. Even though it makes even less sense this time as it did the last, mostly because both the Patriots and Colts are AFC teams.

But we watched. Or at least I did, and you probably did too.

When the then undefeated Cowboys met up with the Colts in Week 6 the game averaged 29.1 million viewers. The highest regular season game in ten years, and CBS's highest rated game in almost twenty years. As of now the numbers are still being tabulated, but early expectations are the Colts vs. Patriots may top it.

And now here we sit today with only one undefeated team now. And, spoiler alert, it's the Patriots. Are they going to finish undefeated? I don't think so, but I'll leave that up to CBS, FOX, and ESPN, because really it's all they want to talk about. More and more they abandon the reporting aspect, leaving us ambushed with Sports Prognosticators. Whatever sells.

But something big is happening. Something that hasn't happened in over thirty years. And something that has never happened since the regular season expanded from fourteen games to sixteen.

In case you haven't been indoctrinated by years of NFL Film tapes, the 1972 Miami Dolphins were a perfect 14-0 and went on to win Super Bowl VII. Including the playoffs they went 17-0. The 2007 Patriots could perhaps go down as the greatest team ever, if they can match the feat in the modern era, going 19-0.

Impressive? Certainly. But right now I'm much more interested in what's going on in Miami and St. Louis these days. The Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams have their own untarnished seasons going. Both teams sit at 0-8, a mere 8 losses away from setting NFL history with it's first 16 loss season.

In their inaugural season the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14. On average they were defeated by 20 points a week. 5 times they were shut out. They did not just lose, they were decimated. They sit atop all other teams as the only team in modern NFL history to go perfectly defeated.

Others have toyed with it. The 1982 Baltimore Colts went 0-8-1 in a strike shortened season. 7 teams have gone 15-1. In 2001 the Detroit Lions started 0-13 before picking up their first victory, and eventually finishing the season 2-14. But with the Rams and Dolphins sitting at 0-8, it looks feasible. Could this be the year? Is it even possible in this, the age of parity.

I'm sitting on the edge of my seat fingers crossed. Though, unfortunately for the television ratings the Rams and Dolphins paths don't cross this season, as I'm sure the Neilsen Ratings would be off the scale. Going undefeated, that's one thing, but everyone slows down to see the car wrecks.

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