The Green Bay Packers have won 17 consecutive games following a 27-15 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 12 of the 2011-12 NFL season on Thanksgiving Day of 2011. The Packers improved to 11-0 for the first time in franchise history.
What's the possibility of an undefeated regular season? The Packers have five games remaining against the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. They've already defeated two of these teams on the road. Three of these games will be at home.
I don't like to talk much about undefeated regular seasons until... Week 17. While I'm not one of those fans who'd feel more comfortable with losing before the playoffs, I will point out that an 11-0 start doesn't mean that the Packers will win their fifth Super Bowl. There are many recent examples who've fallen short of their destination despite the media's hype.
What's even rarer than an 11-0 start? The seven teams who've started 12-0 Since the AFL/NFL merger. Four of those have occurred since 2005-06. Let's take a brief look at some of those teams.
2009-10 Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts were one of two teams who were positioned for an undefeated regular season after Week 14 (The other will be mentioned later). The Colts were 14-0 before they elected to rest Peyton Manning for the playoffs. The Colts would lose their final two regular-season contests with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
The Colts breezed into the Super Bowl as they were favorites against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints used some gusty playcalling and a second-half surge to pull off the 31-17 upset.
2009-10 New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints had lost their final three regular-season contests following a 13-0 start. The Saints featured a high-powered offense that was led by head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. The Saints also have an opportunistic defense that was coached by Gregg Williams. The Saints' blitz-heavy defense pressured many of the NFL's best quarterbacks into uncharacteristic mistakes.
Although the Saints slumped into the postseason, they pulled off victories against the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts en route to their first Super Bowl. They were the first team to start 11-0 to win a championship since the 1998-99 Denver Broncos.
2007-08 New England Patriots
The 2007-08 New England Patriots are the only other team to complete an undefeated regular season since the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins. They waltzed into the Super Bowl and were huge favorites against a New York Giants team that they had already beaten in the regular-season finale.
The Giants had already pulled off road victories against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Packers during the postseason. They were 0-3 against the Cowboys and Packers in the regular season. The Giants just believed that they could get it done.
That's what the Giants did. The Patriots were stunned in the closing seconds after Eli Manning orchestrated a remarkable touchdown drive that was capped off with a 13-yard reception from Plaxico Burress. The Giants wouldn't surrender their 17-14 lead with half-a-minute remaining.
The Patriots would settle for an 18-1 season. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick haven't won a playoff game since then.
2005-06 Indianapolis Colts
The 2005-06 Indianapolis Colts had started 13-0 before a loss to the San Diego Chargers in Week 15. They were the first team to have started the regular season with a record of 10-0 or better since the 1998-99 Broncos. The Colts would finish the season with a 14-2 record.
They had a short stint in the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers would upset the Colts in the AFC divisional playoffs. The Steelers would win their first of two Super Bowls under Ben Roethlisberger.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. His favorite Packer moments include Super Bowl XXXI, XLV, and Al Harris interception return following Matt Hasselbeck's "We're gonna score" comments. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months.
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