After tonight’s 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, The New England Patriots are off to an impressive, if not entirely surprising, 10-0 start to the 2015 season. I say that the start isn’t entirely surprising because of the fact that the world has gotten used to seeing some very excellent football teams coming out of Foxborough in the last decade-plus. Seeing Tom Brady win football games and having to listen to the incessant gloating of Pats fans is just something that the world has gotten used to. We get it, you’re great and Tom is god. Shut up already.
So if the Patriots are the team that everyone was expecting to be undefeated as we approach the last quarter of the season, their partner in the 10-0 club has come as quite the surprise. That’s right, Riverboat Ron Rivera’s Carolina Panthers are everyone’s darling right about now. They are undefeated behind a nasty defense and an offense led by Cam Newton, who has been talked about as a potential MVP candidate.
So with the Patriots and Panthers as the NFL’s lone undefeated teams as we head into week 12, I try to figure out who will lose first.
Why they’ll go undefeated.
If the Patriots are somehow able to go undefeated the entire season, it will be because of two things. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They have a pretty good defense too but nothing trumps Palpatine and Vader.
Why they’ll lose.
Because it’s really hard to go undefeated for an entire NFL season. They also have a pretty tough schedule remaining, with road games against the Broncos (this week), Texans, Jets and Dolphins. The Broncos are probably the best shot to hand New England a loss, even though Brock Osweiler is starting at QB. While I don’t necessarily see the rest of those teams as legit threats, they all have pretty good defenses and will at least make those games interesting. Add the fact that the team keeps suffering season ending injuries to its starters. The past few weeks have seen offensive stars Julian Edelmen and Dion Lewis go down for the year. It’s hard to sustain that kind of dominance when you’re losing players that have been that good.
Why they’ll go undefeated.
Defense and running game. These are two things that couldn’t be more important to a team that wishes to keep their winning ways in the late part of the season. It just so happens that Carolina is very good at both.
Why they’ll lose.
Same reasons as the Patriots really, although injuries aren’t really as much of an issue. They did lose Kelvin Benjamin, but that was before the season even started and other players have stepped up in his absence. That said, I thought a lack of depth at receiver would eventually come back to hurt them. When they do lose, it could very well be because they got behind in a game and didn’t have the talent to make a quick comeback.
Who will be first to catch a “L”?
Let me start by saying that I don’t really think that either of these teams will go into the playoffs undefeated. There’s just too many things that have to go right for something like that to happen. Both of these teams are going to lose a game before the season ends.
Now that we’ve established that no team will be going 16-0, let’s see which team will lose first. I’m tempted to say that the Patriots will lose this weekend in Denver but I’m going to resist that temptation. It will be Brock Osweiler’s 2nd career start and that has got to have Belichick & Company foaming at the mouth. They are going to throw all types of looks at this kid and I’m just not sure he will be able to handle it. I think the Patriots first and only loss will come in week 16 on the road against the division-rival Jets.
As far as the Panthers are concerned, I think they will drop a couple of games before the end of the regular season. They will still be the NFC’s top-seed but they will not be perfect when it is all said and done. I think they will also lose in week 16 to the Falcons, but that won’t be the first one. The Panthers will lose their first game while most of the country is trying to drown itself in turkey and gravy. That’s right, Carolina will lose on Thanksgiving to the 3-7 Dallas Cowboys. I’m sure this isn’t the safe bet, but with Tony Romo back under center and the fans in Dallas desperate for a winning streak, I think the time is ripe for the Panthers to trip over themselves and blow a very winnable game in front of the whole world.