They’re halfway there.
The 8-0 Patriots have eight more wins to go to complete a 16-0 regular season for the second time in franchise history.
Will they get to that Promised Land they achieved in the 2007 season, when they finished 18-1 after losing the Super Bowl to the Giants?
“We’re a long way from thinking about those things,” quarterback Tom Brady said to ESPN after New England’s 33-0 Week 7 win over the Jets.
An argument can be made against the Patriots completing the perfect season, based on the fact the cumulative record of their first eight opponents is 15-42. They’ve had the fortune of playing the Jets (1-6) twice, the Dolphins (0-7), Redskins (1-7), Giants (2-6) and Browns (2-5). The only team with a winning record the Patriots have faced are the Bills (5-2).
The road remaining becomes more challenging, beginning with Sunday night’s game at Baltimore (5-2), a game that could either end the talk of 16-0 or galvanize the argument that it might happen.
The cumulative record of the Patriots’ final eight opponents is 28-32, with five games against teams currently with winning records — the Ravens, Cowboys (4-3), Texans (5-3), Chiefs (5-3) and Bills. Also on the schedule are the Eagles (4-4). After not facing a single team that was in the playoffs in 2018 over their first eight games, the Patriots will face five consecutive playoff teams from last season.
If they can survive that gauntlet undefeated, they’ll be a virtual lock to close out the perfect season, considering they play the weakling Bengals (0-8) and Dolphins (0-7) in their final two games.
The Patriots have faced four first-year head coaches and six quarterbacks in their first or second seasons. Bill Belichick is 21-0 against first or second-year quarterbacks since 2014.
To date, the quarterbacks New England has faced include Ben Roethlisberger, a combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, Luke Falk, Josh Allen, Colt McCoy, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield.
Next up is Lamar Jackson, who’s in his second season, then Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson.
Sunday night, the Patriots will face the league’s No. 1-ranked rushing offense (201 yards per game for the Ravens), which will be the first true challenge to a defense on pace to produce some record-breaking numbers.
Through eight games, New England has allowed 61 points, but 21 of those came on returns (a pick-six, fumble return and a muffed punt). So, the defense has allowed just 40 points, which is an average of 5.0 points per game.
The 2000 Ravens set the record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season with 151, an average of 9.5 points per game. Through eight weeks, those Ravens allowed 82 points, slightly more than 10 points per game. To break that record, the Patriots would need to allow 110 or fewer points in their final eight games.
“If they keep this up all year and do it to every quarterback and every offense they face, then you’ll have to put them in that category [of best defense ever],’’ former Colts and Buccaneers head coach and current NBC studio analyst Tony Dungy said on a recent conference call. “I like a lot of things about them, but we have to slow down on the all-time great to see how this season turns out.’’
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