Column: Ranking the undefeated NFL teams

FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2015, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis. (AP).

Patriots

Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots offense has not looked this good since the dreaded 2007 season. They have an unblemished 8-0 record, and Tom Brady is playing some of the best football of his career. His offense is leading the league at 34.3 points per game, while also ranking third in passing yards per game.

The offense is one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL right now. They love play-action passes and quick slant routes across the middle. Their receiving depth also cannot be matched. Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman both require double coverage on almost every single play.

New England’s only weakness is their lack of depth at the running back. Dion Lewis was put on injured reserved this week after tearing his left ACL. LeGarrette Blount, James White and Brandon Bolden will need to step up in the backfield.

The Patriots are also dangerous because their defense has survived the departures of Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis. The Patriots defensive unit has not received any credit. They are only giving up 17.9 points per game, fifth best in the league. The Patriots are most likely Super Bowl bound if they get by the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Panthers

The Panthers are having one of the best rebound years in NFL history. They have a perfect (8-0) record after finishing (7-8) last season. The team has the best rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 142 yards per game, thanks to the efforts of their elusive quarterback, Cam Newton. The Panthers’ record demands respect. They beat the Seattle Seahawks on the road and Aaron Rodger’s Green Bay Packers at home.  

The Panthers have a solid defense led by their star middle linebacker, Luke Kuechly. They are a gritty team that loves to put pressure on the quarterback. Carolina’s Mike Norman already has four interceptions in eight games. That is the third best mark in the league.

The scariest thing about Carolina is they are capable of doing even more damage. The remaining strength of schedule is very easy to say the least. The only tough games left are two games against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are (6-3), and they have only lost one game at home this year.

Bengals

The Bengals are the third and final team standing undefeated this season. Their (8-0) record is the best start in franchise history. However, the Bengals are an enigma. They are a very polarizing team. A lot of people are not sure if they are ready to buy into them. The reason is because they have lost four straight wildcard playoff games since 2011, and five out of the last six years. They have not been to a divisional round since 1990.

Perhaps this is the year they rewrite history. Andy Dalton is having a career year. He has thrown for 2,226 yards and has a completion percentage of 67 percent. He also has 18 touchdowns and four interceptions.

However, Dalton is not the only Bengal having an all-star season. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap is tied for second with 8.5 sacks this season. He trails New England’s Chandler Jones by only one sack.

Cincinnati is consistent on both sides of the ball. They are ranked fourth in points against (17.8 ppg) and third in average points scored (28.6 ppg).  

This is the first time in NFL history that there have been three teams 8-0. However, the most interesting part of this storyline is not the records, it is the teams. The Panthers are chasing a perfect season after having a losing record the previous year. The Bengals are trying to remain perfect and reach the divisional round for the first time in 25 years. And of course, the Patriots are trying are silence all of the Deflategate criticism by trying to achieve a goal the 2007 Patriots failed to reach.

All three of these teams have something to prove, and all of them are certainly proving it. However, only the playoffs matter. Every team is undefeated in January.


Eddie Leonard is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He tweets @EddieLeonard23.