Only once in NFL history has a team ended the regular season touting a 16-0 record, and even those 2007 Patriots couldn’t seal the deal in the Super Bowl against the heavy-underdog Giants. Could this finally be the year where a team can claim to have gone 16-0 and win the Super Bowl? Probably not, but let’s take a look at the 5 teams with the most realistic shot at achieving this unprecedented feat.
5. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are entering the season as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl, and for good reason. The Chargers (at full strength) have one of the best lineups in the NFL across the board. Unfortunately for LA, availability has been the Chargers greatest weakness for years. Derwin James is likely out for most of the regular season and the Melvin Gordon holdout is not showing much progress. Therefore, the Chargers take the 5th spot based on the roster uncertainty. However, the Chargers have a relatively favorable schedule. The largest obstacle facing the Chargers is two regular season matchups against the powerhouse Chiefs. Their next hardest game would be presumed to be Indianapolis in week 1, but recent reports have indicated that Luck may not be ready to play by then. Outside of these three games, the Chargers appear to undoubtedly be the more powerful team. It will take some luck with injuries and Melvin Gordon returning, but the Chargers have the roster talent to pull off a perfect season.
4. Green Bay Packers
The Packers could be considered one of the most underrated teams or one of the most overrated teams depending on who you ask. Whichever camp you fall in, it’s undeniable that Aaron Rodgers has the potential to play better than any QB we’ve ever seen. Assuming these past two seasons have been off largely due to injury, a return to form should be expected of Rodgers, which should put the rest of the league on notice. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, the Packers finally went out of their way to get some defensive talent through free agency. Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have both been incredibly impressive this offseason and look like they may be capable of finally giving the Packers a respectable defense. Green Bay will also be aided by a favorable schedule. They’ll have to pull a few road upsets against the Chargers and Chiefs, but they have the ability to dominate their division (the Bears won’t be as good this year) and shouldn’t have a ton of trouble with their other opponents. With a healthy Rodgers, anything is possible, even perfection.
3. Cleveland Browns
What a turn around it’s been for the Browns, to go from laughing stock of the league to Super Bowl contenders in just two years. This Cleveland offense is terrifying. Looking at how Baker Mayfield was able to play phenomenally without much surrounding talent, the additions of OBJ and Kareem Hunt ought to help his production astronomically. The Browns also improved their already-formidable defense, with Olivier Vernon and Greedy Williams. In terms of schedule, the Browns will have to play both of last year’s Super Bowl contenders, but that’s about it. Their whole division is in flux with massive changes occurring to Pittsburgh’s offense and Baltimore’s defense, leaving the Browns the opportunity to go 6-0 against the AFC North. The biggest challenge is certainly New England in week 8 at Foxborough, but if they can take that game why shouldn’t the Browns be able to achieve perfection?
2. Kansas City Chiefs
These last two teams are in a tier of their own and could easily be interchanged based on who is writing the list. The Chiefs are led by the future face of the league, Patrick Mahomes, as well as unguardable weapons Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Few teams had answers for them last year and there’s little reason to believe that will change in 2019. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they have one of the hardest schedules this year. Matchups against the Colts, Patriots, Packers, and Chargers twice could all very well end a perfect run. However, the Chiefs still earn the second spot on this list due to the fact that they have a top 5 coach, a top 5 QB, a top 5 receiver, the best TE in the league, an improved defense, and a massive home-field advantage. The path to perfection would be a bloody one for the Chiefs, but if ever there were a team that could overcome the brutal schedule it’s the 2019 Chiefs.
1. New England Patriots
After failing to complete the job in 2007, the Patriots have the best shot at doing so in 2019. Yes, Brady is 42 and Gronk retired, but does anyone really believe that this will be devastating to the Pats? With the combined brainpower of TB12 and Belichick, Brady could play with his left arm all season and the Pats could still make the playoffs. Josh Gordon was just reinstated from his indefinite suspension, which suddenly turns the Patriots’s WR core into one of the best in the league. Edelman, Gordon, and rookie N’Keal Harry all have WR #1 ability (so does Demaryius Thomas if he can comeback healthy). Also on that offense is the deepest backfield in the league, with Sony Michel, James White, and Damien Harris leading the charge. Defensively, the Patriots have the strongest unit they have had since the early 2000’s. Second-year undrafted free agent J.C Jackson has had an incredible offseason and is projected to be the CB2, next to PFF top rated cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The Pats also ooze depth at the linebacker position, with Donte Hightower, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, and Elandon Roberts all bringing starter-ability. The Patriots are also gifted with the easiest schedule in the league. The typical slow start for New England could be mitigated by playing just one team who had a winning record in 2018 over the first 8 weeks. The two hardest games for New England (Cleveland and Kansas City) are both at home, leaving just a trip to Philly in games that should be expected to be a struggle (and even that is coming off of their bye week). The Patriots have a very real shot at perfection this season. The rest of the league can only pray that Brady starts to look his age.