Right now there are three undefeated teams left in the NFL, the Colts, Saints, and Broncos.
Ever since the 1998 Broncos started their season 13-0 people have been waiting for that one team to come along and go 19-0. Every year such a big deal is made about the perfect start. The media loves, apparently the fans love, the players pretend not to love it, but we all know they do.
So we were given the 2005 Colts who put the idea on our tongues. Like the Broncos they went 13-0 before losing. In 2006 the Colts again got off to a hot start at 9-0 before losing.
In 2007 we had the first team to go 16-0 in the New England Patriots, who would go 18-0 before infamously losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. And last year we had the 10-0 Tennessee Titans who resembled the 2005 Colts in their playoff stature as opposed to the 1998 Broncos or 2006 Colts.
But what we've learned is that in today's expanded league of 30+ teams, it's a lot easier to flirt with perfection than it was in a 28 team league. It's likely due to the wide dispersing of talent, and disparity between good and great quarterback play.
Who will be the last undefeated team left in the league? Who knows, but for their sake let's hope they're more like the 2006 Colts and 1998 Broncos than the 2007 Patriots.
Here are the Power Rankings for Week 8...
01. New Orleans Saints - I have officially bought whatever the Saints are selling. I doubted them the past weeks. I picked New York, I picked Miami, I'll probably even pick Atlanta this week but once again I'll be wrong. This is a 14-2 team, at worst a 13-3 team, and the road to the Super Bowl will go through the Superdome this January. If they're there, you can bet your whistle I'll be betting against them still, probably losing money.
02. Indianapolis Colts - I feel as though this team gets penalized in our minds because we're so immune to this sort of start by now. Are they the 05 13-0 lose in their first playoff game Colts or the 06 Super Bowl Champion Colts? Truth be told they're the 09 Colts and they look like the best Colts team of the decade, and that's awful news for everyone else.
03. Denver Broncos - The bye week helped this 6-0 team fade from the spotlight and that "X" on their backs fade a little. A win this week in Baltimore and it'll be bigger than ever heading into a showdown with Pittsburgh.
04. Pittsburgh Steelers - This team is dangerous. All AFC teams should beware; If this team gets a first round bye they'll probably be playing in Miami. There are maybe two teams in the entire NFL who can consistently beat this team.
05. Minnesota Vikings - They lost to the Steelers and this is where the questions will begin. There is no rebound game against awful teams, there is no time to get healthy. This team needs to head into Green Bay and win this week or they're in danger of collapsing. We see it every year, hot teams with a balance of youth and veterans who get hot early and cool down down the stretch. Last year they were called the Jets and they had a Quarterback with the last name Favre. Beware.
06. New England Patriots - In beating two winless teams the Patriots did exactly what they needed to do to quiet their critics and get the "Super Bowl bandwagon" revved up and ready to speed away. They've got a bye now, but after that it gets tough. This will be an 11-5 team, 12-4 potentially. They'll probably have to win three including two on the road to get to Miami.
07. Arizona Cardinals - Did anyone else write this team off after week 3? This team doesn't need to worry about whether or not they'll be in the playoffs, instead they need to learn from the 06 Seahawks mistakes and just try to stay healthy. This division will be won with 8 wins, 9 max. Focus on getting those and just being healty in January. With that recipe this team can get back to the NFC title game, and potentially the Super Bowl.
The Very Good
08. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers can go to six Super Bowls in his career and he'll never have a bigger "must win" than this week against the Brett Favre lead Minnesota Vikings in Green Bay. A win will also put this team back in the divisional title hunt. Rodgers needs this win to answer a lot of questions. Truth be told this team has a lot of questions to answer in general.
09. New York Giants - Two losses to probable division winners means this team is probable to not get a first round bye in 2009. A loss this week in Philadelphia means that it's probable this team won't win their division. This Sunday one New York team is going to win in Philly, I just don't know which.
10. Philadelphia Eagles - They had a nice bounce back win against the Redskins, but you still have to have your doubts about this team. They have the luxury of hosting a self-doubting Giants team this week. A win there and Donovan and Andy can start thinking about what they'll have to do to get past the NFC Championship game, again. Is 2009 DeSean Jackson better than 2004 Terrell Owens? He'll have to be to get this team there.
11. Dallas Cowboys - The next three games are Sea, @Phi, @ GB, if they come out of those three 6-3 they'll be in the playoffs, anything less and they're clearing house in 2010. These next three weeks will define their season.
12. Atlanta Falcons - Remember the Michael Vick days? Back when this team had an awesome running game. What happened to that? Michael "The Burner" Turner should change his name to Michael "Burnt Out" Turner. I don't think this team will beat one playoff team in 2009, that includes January; because they'll be there at 10-6.
13. Cincinnati Bengals - There are still a lot of doubters out there but this team is 5-2 heading into their bye week. They've got four more probable wins on their schedule (@ Oak, Cle, Det, KC). The truth is this team can very well be playing in January, maybe at home.
Hanging In There
14. Baltimore Ravens - This team is coming off of a bye and into a brutal schedule. At 3-3 they're a team everyone still has on their radar; but are Denver, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh really scared? They should be considering the Ravens have lost their three games by a combined 11 points.
15. New York Jets - What every struggling team needs is a week against the Raiders. Mark Sanchez has continued to regress. Ryan has to stick with Sanchez though, there's bigger things than winning the six seed and losing to the Patriots in the first round (see: New York Giants 2004 season.)
16. Houston Texans - This team can potentially be the most dangerous team in the league. They'll likely be 5-3 heading into a showdown with Indianapolis in two weeks. They were a trendy preseason playoff pick, and the trend isn't out of style yet.
17. San Diego Chargers - The win against the Chiefs was what they needed to get some confidence in San Diego. How things have changed in this city though; before the season fans and media alike gave this team a first round bye. Now they'll be lucky to be the six seed.
18. Miami Dolphins - I like to call this team "the worst above average team in the league." In these next two weeks the Dolphins can be thinking about either the NFL draft or the NFL playoffs. What's the name of that wide receiver from Oklahoma State again? Dez.... Bryant?
19. Chicago Bears - I like to call this team "the best brutally average team in the league." This team has the capability to beat teams like Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, New England, and the Giants; they also have the capability to lose this week to the Browns. Lovie Smith needs to leave this team.
20. San Francisco 49ers - I never bought into this team, and now they're in danger of falling to 3-4 thanks to a trip to Indianapolis. They did the right thing this week in benching Shaun Hill in favor of Alex Smith. This team needs to find out what they have in Smith right now, unless it might be time to start researching which QB to draft this April.
21. Seattle Seahawks - A loss this week at Dallas and they're done for 2009, a win and they'll likely be 4-4 heading into Arizona. This team is underachieving, aging, and sloppy.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars - I've been tempted to move the Jaguars out of the dead. They were pronounced dead after they got trampled by the Seahawks 41-0, but they're 3-3 with Tennessee and Kansas City in back to back weeks. If they're 5-3 heading to the Meadowlands I'll bring this team back to life. Until then they're the best dead team in the league.
23. Buffalo Bills - Do I believe in bringing things back from the dead? In the case of the 2009 Buffalo Bills, no. They're 3-4 and they've looked good these past couple of weeks; if by looking good you mean beating mediocre opponents playing at their ultimate worst.
24. Carolina Panthers - Officially done for 2009. Chances are John Fox, Steve Smith, and Jake Delhomme are all out of the league or somewhere else in 2010. Obviously I doubt Steve Smith will be out of the league; Delhomme should be the next past his prime QB to back up Romo.
25. Kansas City Chiefs - This team is supposed to be in rebuilding mode, but things just look like a mess. They showed how far they are from competing this weekend against the Chargers.
26. Oakland Raiders - The Raiders are awful. Things are so bad they benched JaMarcus Russell to start Bruce Gradkowski. Correction, things are so bad that Bruce Gradkowski is on their roster. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate MAC QB's, but this team should've done everything they could've to keep Jeff Garcia... or Kerry Collins, even. Man are things really so bad in Oakland that I'm saying they'd be better off with QB's who were already old in the '02 playoffs? They should see what Tommy Maddox and Kelly Holcomb are doing.
27. Washington Redskins - I'd love to put this team at #32 but they're not as bad as these other five teams. A true testament to how uneven the NFL is in 2009. Is parity over? Yes, welcome to 2003.
28. Detroit Lions - This week they have the opportunity to defend their crown as the only 0-16 team in NFL history when they host the Rams. Believe it or not, a win in that game can potentially hurt their Power Ranking.
29. Cleveland Browns - It's a rebuilding process in Cleveland. Hasn't that been the case since the team was brought back in 1999, though? This fan base has to be the most beaten down in professional sports. At least they still have Drew Carey.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Their "home" game in England didn't go to well, but no one expected it to. They made the move to Josh Freeman, a move they should stick with for the rest of the season.
31. Tennessee Titans - The bye week gave Jeff Fisher time to decide he wanted to feel like a winner. This likely means he'll be headed to Chicago or Jacksonville sometime in the next two years.
32. St. Louis Rams - As predicted this team got beaten badly at home. The teams best shot at getting a win in 2009 comes this week against the Lions. Ironic?