Ah, the Gambler’s Fallacy: if something hasn’t happened in a given amount of time, it is bound to happen eventually. Last night, the Bengals got bested by the Texans, and was handed their first loss of the season. Now only the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots remain as the last two undefeated teams in the NFL. So, this begs the question: who’s next to fall?
Let’s break this down looking at each teams’ remaining 7 weeks.
Week 11: vs. Washington (4-5)
Week 12: @ Dallas (2-7)
Week 13: @ New Orleans (4-6)
Week 14: vs. Atlanta (6-3)
Week 15: @ NY Giants (5-5)
Week 16: @ Atlanta (6-3)
Week 17: vs. Tampa Bay (4-5)
For the Panthers, the most notable games on their schedule are Week 12: @ Dallas, Week 14: vs. Atlanta, Week 15: @ NY Giants, and Week 16: @ Atlanta. I would have never thought the Panthers would be in this position after losing Kelvin Benjamin to an ACL tear, much like the rest of the league, leaving them with slim to no offensive options. But their schedule up to this point has been a cake walk. They opened up the season playing Jacksonville, New Orleans, Houston, and Tampa Bay, not exactly top-tier teams this season. The only test they have had was against Seattle, but they scored late to win. The four games highlighted above are the ones that are going to give Cam Newton and his team the toughest test, especially with Tony Romo coming back and having to play two games against Atlanta.
New England Patriots
Week 11: vs. Buffalo (5-4)
Week 12: @ Denver (7-2)
Week 13: vs. Philadelphia (4-5)
Week 14: @ Houston (4-5)
Week 15: vs. Tennessee (2-7)
Week 16: @ NY Jets (5-4)
Week 17: @ Miami (4-5)
The Patriots should have lost Sunday to the Giants. There, I said it. But, that game is in the past. Following the game in the Meadowlands, the Patriots toughest test to date, they have a relatively light schedule (and by “light,” I mean it’s a joke of a schedule). The only true tests to them is Week 12: @ Denver and then Week 16: @ New York Jets. I know the Broncos haven’t looked great, especially with Peyton Manning at the helm, but the defense has outshined his shortcomings and have stopped prolific offenses in the past. With the news of Manning having a torn plantar fascia and Brock Osweiler taking over, I’m not too sure any more but you never know. The Jets game could also prove to be a problem for the almighty Patriots but, then again, the Patriots have too many offensive weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal to ever lose again!
At this point in the season, especially after the heartbreaking loss by the Giants that should have been a win (#ItWasACatch), I want the Patriots to go 16-0 again. I want the team to feel too confident. I want the fans to chirp everyone saying “Tom and Bill are Gods amongst men and can never fail!” And then I want it to all go away in the Super Bowl. Even if it isn’t at the hands of the Giants, few things give me such joy as the 18-1 season did, and the subsequent raising of one of the worst banners in sports.
So bring on the next seven weeks of the NFL season. As we have seen in the past 10 weeks, anything can happen. The Bengals can lose to the Texans, the Packers can lose three straight, and there could potentially be a three team tie at the top of the AFC South at 4-6. So why can’t the Panthers and Patriots both go 16-0? I just hope it’s a repeat of 2007.