Never Tell Me The Odds
The Patriots have already delighted American football punditry with their 7-0 record. Could they make it to the playoffs undefeated?
Let’s consider their upcoming opponents:
Week 8: Washington Deadskins: Please. The only reason the Skins are 4-2 and not 3-3 is that the Cardinals couldn’t pull off a last-second field goal, losing to a team that had half their yardage. This isn’t the worst Redskins team of the last ten years, but that’s not saying much. Pats Win: 95%
Week 9: @Baltimore Colts: This will be the crucible. Less than 200 yards in the air is a slow Sunday for Peyton, and Addai should be back up to speed after lightly jogging over the Panthers in Week 8. The Colts have the 3rd best yardage in the league on both offense (399.7 gained) and defense (269.5 allowed). They’re only average against the rush, though, so let’s send healing thoughts towards Laurence Maroney’s groin (… what?). Pats Win: 50%
Week 11: @Heffalump Bills: Because this worked out so well for the Bills last time. It’s a division game so there should be more of a fight involved, but seriously. The gulf between 1st and 2nd in a division (the Bills with a .333 winning percentage; the Pats with a 1.000) has never been greater. Pats Win: 99.9996%
Week 12: Filthadelphia Eagles: There’s a chance that Tom Brady may instinctively recoil from such an ugly city, fearing to smudge his Armani. But I’m not counting on it. Brian Westbrook’s the only real threat here (Donovan McNabb managed to throw for as many yards as the lesser Manning when he faced the Giants, and still lost by 13) and injuries continue to plague him. Pats Win: 90%
Week 13: @Baltimore Ravens: If the Colts are a crucible, the Ravens are the hammer beating the Pats into shape. Baltimore will shut New England’s running game down. And in the air, Ed Reed’s already got 10 picks in 6 weeks of play. That being said, the stingiest defense in the world means little when your offense can’t produce. Both of Baltimore’s starting tight ends, Todd Heap and Daniel Wilcox, are doubtful (thigh and foot injuries, respectively). McNair can’t land a completion, and Boller has no pocket presence to speak of. Pats Win: 70%
Week 14: Pittsburgh Stillers: Last season’s Steelers, maybe. Pats Win: 80%
Week 15: New York Jetropolitans: This could be a real threat. Chad Pennington’s going to be lobbing bombs to Laveranues Coles and Chris Baker all day, while DeWayne Robertson rushes the pocket. Except, of course, all those people will probably be out by Week 15 (they’re Questionable at the moment). There’s not a team so bad that the Jets won’t roll over and allow themselves an undignified moment. They lost to Philly, for the devil’s sake! I can’t imagine a worse team. Pats Win: 99.9996%
Week 16: Miami Fish: … well, except the one. We’ve already seen how this game turned out once; will the cold weather improve the Dolphin’s chances? Pats Win: 99.9996%
Week 17: New York Football Giants: One last hurdle before the postseason. Eli Manning’s not a bad quarterback, provided he’s standing out of frame of his brother – 82.9 passer rating, lots of picks but very few sacks or fumbles. Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer continue to amuse Chris Berman during the highlight reel; they’re each a fire-and-forget first down. The problem: everywhere the Giants are good, the Patriots are better. By leaps and bounds. Pats Win: 85%
Multiplying all these percentages together, I calculate the chances of the Patriots going 16-0 at 20.3%. That’s a one in five chance for the best team in football to duplicate a feat that’s only been achieved once. I like those odds!