The NFL’s unblemished squad group is reduced to an elite quartet.
After five weeks, the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans are the last remaining teams to lose this season. But the road for all is about to get much tougher, with the Steelers facing the Cleveland Browns 4-1 on Sunday and the Packers facing Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even if all groups remain perfect this week (the Seahawks are on a bye), there will only be one undefeated AFC team left after Week 7, when the Titans host the Steelers.
With that in mind, we asked USA TODAY Sports’ NFL reporters and columnists: Who will be the last undefeated NFL team in the regular season?
Green Bay. I like the odds of a team that has accumulated at least 30 points in each game. If the Packers come out of Tampa on Sunday with a win, their next four opponents – Houston, Minnesota, San Francisco and Jacksonville – have a combined record of 5-15. This team could not only go 9-0 in a late-November game in Indianapolis, but along the way they can take a symbolic rematch by showing that they can indeed beat the 49ers in Santa Clara while riding the road. the ailing 2019 playoff team landscape. through difficult times. Balance is the ticket. Sure, Aaron Rodgers is on fire, bringing the clock back to his 2011 NFL MVP season. Yet the supporting cast has also been on point. That includes Za’Darius Smith, the edge pusher every team needs. And the Packers still haven’t committed revenue. How about a bonus question: if not the pack? Seahawks mojo. Seattle is the only team to have won five games – despite losing to the Patriots, Cowboys and Vikings, and scared of the Dolphins. The defense keeps them in games and Russell Wilson wins them. It’s a risky combination. But so far it has worked. Then again, maybe the Seahawks are living well.
No particularly strong feelings here… so given that I have Packers perched atop the USA TODAY Sports NFL Power Rankings, I might as well stick with them. Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay is barely a given, but I think Aaron Rodgers and Co. is doing it after a week off. After that? It’s the Texans, Vikings, Niners and Jags for the Pack – a stretch that looks pretty conducive to a 9-0 start. And when you consider the Titans and Steelers – neither have played a particularly impressive schedule to date – meet at Week 7, while the Seahawks by the skin of their beaks are set to meet the Cardinals (two times), Bills and rams? #GoPackGo seems to be the group most likely to do an extended run to perfection.
To say the obvious: The Seahawks, one week off this week, are statistically the most likely to be the last undefeated team on Monday. But I expect the Titans to beat a team of 1-4 Texans, the Steelers to drop Cleveland to 17-game losing streak in Pittsburgh and Aaron Rodgers to win the yet-to-be-washed battle with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. That brings us to Week 7, when the Steelers and Titans go head to head and don’t both emerge with a win. Seattle is heading to Arizona, which I think will be on the heels of a JerryWorld win on national television. Kyler’s mojo of a return to his hometown will be just enough to help a Seattle team get back on track after 14 days off. Meanwhile, Green Bay will host a Texan squad that will flash but not keep pace with Rodgers’ explosiveness. This is all a roundabout way of saying: Give me Green Bay.
I really think it’s the Packers. When you look at their schedule, the next list includes the Bucs (3-2), Texans (1-4), Vikings (1-4), and 49ers (2-3). They certainly have a chance of winning the next three, and possibly the fourth. According to San Francisco’s health, this could prove to be their toughest game of the four, as the Niners’ coaches have such a good understanding of Green Bay’s plans. The Seahawks have division games coming up, and they will be tough. The Titans and Steelers will face off in a few weeks, so one of them will drop from the ranks. But Green Bay’s level of play, as well as the way the schedule unfolds, seems to suit them best for a long, unbeaten stretch.
I’ll go with the Packers. For some reason, they seem to be underrated this season. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Aaron Rodgers, much like with a lot of the most competitive athletes, a little bit of motivation to shut down the haters goes a long way. As Davante Adams regains health, the attack will be even better. The defense has some concerns, but it’s more about the remaining schedule. The toughest opponents left are the Buccaneers (this weekend) and the Titans (week 16). As long as the Packers deal with Tampa Bay on Sunday, they should be able to navigate to their game against Tennessee. And while the Bears are 4-1 and Green Bay has faced them twice, I just don’t have as much faith in Chicago as a legitimate threat in the conference.