Only two teams — the 1972 Miami Dolphins and 2007 New England Patriots — have ever run the table in the regular season. Can Carolina, behind an offense that ranks ninth in defense adjusted value over average (or DVOA), a defense that ranks sixth in DVOA and a special teams unit that ranks 28th in DVOA, become the third team to accomplish the feat?
History certainly doesn’t think so: A majority of teams that began the season with six straight wins ended up with 13-3 records, according to NFL.com. This year marked the first time in league history that six teams boasted perfect records after Week 6, but that number has since thinned to four, with Denver still to play Sunday.
As Neil Greenberg posited last month, no team played more of a cupcake schedule through the first six weeks of the season than Carolina. Well, the home stretch isn’t much harder. With eight regular season games remaining, Carolina has the best odds to pull off the feat.
Sure, Carolina isn’t favored against either Dallas (when the team heads to AT&T Stadium on Nov. 26) or Atlanta (when the team heads to the Georgia Dome on Dec. 13). However, when contextualized by Denver, New England and Cincinnati’s remaining schedules, the future hardly looks bleak.
New England and Denver play each other on Nov. 29, and the Bengals square off with the Broncos on Dec. 28. Carolina not only skirts all remaining undefeated teams, they play just one team — Atlanta — with a winning record.
“There are eight games left,” Carolina head coach Ron Rivera said after Sunday’s win. “Anything can happen.”
Carolina’s staring down the barrel of its potential third playoff appearance since 2009, but they could have a much bigger achievement within their grasp.