The New England Patriots have completed the season a perfect 16-0, joining a rare group of teams whose regular seasons have been as spotless as a brand-new pair of glasses.
At the least, an undefeated Patriots team lays claim to having the best regular season ever by a pro football team, and not just because it had to win more games than did the undefeated and untied 1972 Miami Dolphins, 1942 Chicago Bears, 1934 Chicago Bears and, from the old All-American Football Conference, the 1948 Cleveland Browns.
New England’s accomplishment is more impressive because the gap between the best and worst teams was much smaller than it was for those other teams. They didn’t have to worry about free agency.
In the cases of the 1934 Bears and 1948 Browns, they had competition that was struggling so hard financially just getting enough warm bodies on the field constituted a victory. Through 14 games, New England was outscoring teams by 20.8 points per game, a record in the Super Bowl era, and was only one point behind the 1942 Bears’ record 292-point differential for the season.
The Patriots’ undefeated record would compare well to some of the greatest regular-season accomplishments made by teams in other major sports. Like those teams, they established an astounding standard of dominance over their peers. The comparison is less fair with dominant college teams, who get to stack their schedules with cupcakes if they so choose, and often had over their peers resource advantages sizable enough to make the 1934 Bears and 1948 Browns jealous.
New England players and coaches themselves would tell you that regular-season dominance means nothing unless it translates to the postseason.
And as this look back at some of the greatest regular-season accomplishments in sports shows, a spotless record can smudge very quickly once the playoffs come.
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The greatest regular seasons ever
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