This is the first time there have been this many teams still unbeaten — six — entering Week 6 of an NFL season. No, we are not putting the 1972 Dolphins on early high alert that another team might finally equal their Perfect Season. Keep the champagne on ice, Perfectos.
The six unbeatens (one of them, Atlanta, played Thursday night) will have ample opportunity to knock each other off. Denver and Carolina have three games left against fellow unbeatens; Atlanta and Green Bay have two; and New England and Cincinnati have one.
The field will likely winnow itself even before those head-to-head games. For instance, Carolina is favored to lose Sunday at Seattle. And I’m predicting Cincy will be an upset loser at Buffalo.
Despite the record number of unbeatens, there are but two super teams this season: the Patriots and Packers. The betting numbers underline that.
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Green Bay is the Super Bowl favorite right now at 3-1 odds in a near dead-heat with New England at 7-2. Nobody else is better than a 10-1 longshot.
Likewise, Aaron Rodgers is a 7-5 MVP favorite, Tom Brady is on his heels at 11-5, and nobody else is closer than 14-1.
The Packers’ toughest remaining games appear to be at Denver on Nov. 1, at Carolina on Nov. 8 and at Arizona on Dec. 27.
The Patriots, after playing at the Colts Sunday night, see a Nov. 29 date at Denver as their likeliest loss. New England and Brady appear to be on a mission, driven by anger, fueled by “Deflategate” and the NFL’s controversial investigation and handling of the matter. The league’s four-game suspension of Brady was overturned by the federal courts, but the NFL continues to pursue an appeal — even though the league logically would be better served by dropping this rather than be seen as witch-hunting one of its flagship franchises and most popular stars.
I’m not sure if anything can stop a Patriots-Packers Super Bowl.
I’d still not bet on either raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy as the first Perfect Team since Miami in 1972 — but I’d also not bet much against the Patriots doing exactly that, just as they nearly did in the 2007 season.
Eight years later, New England has the motivation and the talent and the coach and the schedule and the quarterback to give perfection — and the Perfect Redemption — a major shot.
▪ The nine QBs with a 100-plus passer rating (led by Brady and Rodgers) are the most ever entering Week 6 — and three others are over 98.8. The teams of the four top-rated passers are a combined 18-1.
▪ Rodgers needs 186 air yards Sunday to reach 30,000 for his career, and he’ll break Johnny Unitas’ long-standing record for reaching that milestone in the fewest attempts.
▪ San Diego’s Philip Rivers makes his 150th consecutive start Sunday. Only longer QB streaks have been by Brett Favre (297), Peyton Manning (208) and Eli Manning (172, current).
▪ Geezer update: Raiders safety Charles Woodson became the third man to intercept a pass at age 39 or older, joining Darrell Green and Clay Matthews Jr. And Matt Hasselbeck because first 40-plus QB to throw two TDs in a game since Mark Brunell in the 2010-season playoffs.