We’re about halfway through the NFL season. Right now there are two undefeated teams, the Patriots and the 49ers, and two winless teams, the Dolphins and the Bengals. In this week’s article we debate whether it’s more likely that a team will finish the regular season undefeated or without a win.
I personally believe it’s a lot more likely a team will go 16-0 than 0-16. The two teams who are 16-0 don’t play each other at any point this year while the two winless teams do play each other in Week 16. This means that it’s not possible for both of the teams to go 0-16, because someone has to win that game, whereas both the Patriots and 49ers could go 16-0.
Your point about the schedules makes sense, but since one team has to win, the other team has to lose, so there’s still a likely chance either team could go 0-16. If I were to pick one, it would be the Dolphins because they are potentially the worst team I’ve ever seen. I don’t see any scenario where they win a game this season. However, my argument is based less on whether or not I think Miami will squeak out a win and more on the fact I don’t see either the Patriots or the 49ers winning out. They have the two best defenses in football, which have allowed them to get off to these incredible starts, but neither offense has really impressed me so far. Tom Brady has been fine, and the offense has played well enough to win eight straight games, but it has looked real spotty at times. There have been portions of games where the Patriots could not move the football, and against good teams, that could be a problem. The same goes for the 49ers. Their defense is insane, but Jimmy Garoppolo has been average at best, throwing for just nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. The running back tandem of Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida has allowed them to be successful offensively, but I don’t think it will be enough to stay undefeated. All parts of your team have to be unbelievable to go 16-0 and I think both of these teams have exploitable weaknesses at this point.
That’s fair, but I don’t think you need every part of your team working at all times to go 16-0; you just need them working better than the team you are playing any given week. For instance if you’re playing Miami, you don’t have to be nearly as good as if you’re playing the 49ers. Whereas in order to be 0-16, you need your entire team to just monumentally suck at all times or else you’re risking accidentally winning because one quarterback or running back just happened to have a great game, or the other team just happened to be awful. I think it’s easier to play to the level of your opponent than to play considerably worse than every single team you face for 16 games, which is what has to happen for a team to go 0-16. It’s true that Garoppolo hasn’t been fantastic, but their running backs are more than making up for it and while Tom Brady may no longer be the best quarterback in the league, he still has almost 2,000 yards, 11 touchdowns, and four interceptions this year, which is a fairly good statline on a team where running back Sony Michel already has six rushing touchdowns.
Both the 49ers and the Patriots are terrific teams who will definitely be Super Bowl contenders. However, 16-0 is a different beast. Only one team has ever done that, the 2007 Patriots, and that team was insane in all phases of the game. Both undefeated teams are great this year, but I don’t believe they compare to that team. Furthermore, the schedule from now on is not favorable for either team. The Patriots have had a very easy schedule through the first eight weeks, but that doesn’t continue. Their next five games are all against potential playoff teams, the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs. The chances the Patriots win all of those games are very slim. The 49ers also have some really tough matchups in the future against the Seahawks, Packers, Ravens and Saints. Neither team as presently constructed will be able to beat all those difficult opponents. Whereas looking at the Bengals and Dolphins schedules, I don’t see many winnable games, minus the one against each other. Plus both teams seem to be actively tanking. That is why I believe there is a much better chance of us seeing an 0-16 team this season than a 16-0 team. It’s much harder to win than to lose.
Danny Barletta is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @dbars_12.
Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.