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article imageOp-Ed: Colts and Saints as good as the Dolphins?

By Michael Bearak     Nov 28, 2009 in Sports
Going into this weekend's games there are still two teams left in the NFL with perfect records. Both the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints stand at 10-0 and chase the 1972 Miami Dolphins' mark.
14-0 was the perfect mark that the 1972 Miami Dolphins had set as the standard for excellence in the NFL. It really is the standard of perfection as coach Don Shula and Bob Griese led the Dolphins to a perfect season capped off with a 14-7 Super Bowl victory over the Washington Redskins. Urban legend has it that when the last NFL team is beaten the surviving members of the '72 team open bottles of champagne to celebrate. This is something that Don Shula downplayed. Nevertheless the great Bob Griese once commented that he after the defeat he would call a his former teammates and have a Diet Coke.
Now we have two teams that have gone through 10 games and are still perfect. The Colts with their star quarterback, Payton Manning and the Saints who have a solid quarterback in Drew Brees and star running back Reggie Bush. The question would be if either team has it in them to go truly perfect through the regular season and win the Super Bowl.
The 2007 New England Patriots actually won more games in a row going 18-0 and into the Super Bowl only to be upset by the New York Giants. A number of teams have been close to many getting to this 10-0 point and beyond before giving up a loss. The 1985 Chicago Bears team with their dominant defense and "Monsters of the Midway" nickname went 12-0 before losing in week 13 on Monday night football to the Miami Dolphins and Don Shula. Here Shula and quarterback Dan Marino were able to ensure the legacy of that '72 team. Those Bears and the San Francisco 49ers from the year before both won the Super Bowl and both went 18-1, but was perfect in their quest.
Like so many great teams that 1972 Dolphins team featured outstanding players. This team was the first to have two players each to rush for over 1,000 yards in Mercury Morris and Larry Csonka. The irony though was Bob Griese actually broke his ankle in week 5 and didn't return until the AFC Championship again as a substitute and then as a starter in the Super Bowl.
The question is if either of these two teams has what it takes to go the perfect 19-0 record, which is the standard. To the purest of the game a team has to be 19-0 to consider that perfection and at least claim a seat next to that Dolphin team. Falling short and losing in the Super Bowl is not perfect, you are not the NFL Champions, and you don't get the Vince Lombardi Trophy. So again can either team go 19-0?
Both of these teams are very good. Both of them right now have the inside track on the Super Bowl. The Saints would all but have to explode and not take the field to not with their division. This week though they face a tough New England Patriots team, but it is at home in the dome. After that they have 5 games remaining 4 of which as of today have losing records. Let's be honest looking at their schedule, they are in a weak conference and their out of conference games haven't been that tough. The exceptions being New England this week on Monday night, Philadelphia and the Giants. These guys have a good shot perfection at least for the regular season. The only team after New England that they will face with a winning record will be the Dallas Cowboys and again the Saints will be playing host. The Saints should go 16-0 at worst 15-1.
The Colts have a harder schedule left than the Saints as they will have to go on the road for 3 of their 6 remaining games. Two of those games will be against divisional rivals the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Two of the three remaining home games are against sub .500 teams but the games include the currently 4-6 New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. The other home game is against the Denver Broncos who are at 7-4 after beating the New York Giants and ending their four game skid. Unless the Colts go into a real slide at the end of the season they should have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Saints don't have as much assurance as the Minnesota Vikings are currently 9-1 while the Cowboys are 8-3. The same Cowboys that the Saints will have to face in week 15 in the Superdome, that game could have huge playoff implications towards home field advantage.
The road is far from over, after all we have 6 weeks left and then either the Colts or Saints have to be "perfect" going into the playoffs when we move to the one-and-done format. In the end what would you rather have a loss or two in the regular season and a Super Bowl ring or a 16-0 regular season only to lose short of winning the Super Bowl?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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