Monday, December 31, 2007

Best team ever?

The Patriots are three wins away from staking their claim as the best team in NFL history, and if they win the Super Bowl, there will be no real argument.

I've frequently stated that the '89 49ers are the best team I ever saw, and that's basically wrong. That evaluation is based on the way they whupped everyone in the playoffs and how, during the regular season, they hung 34 on a very good Giants defense. Honestly, the best team I've seen, objectively, is the '85 Bears. I forgot how they crushed the Cowgirls in Dallas (44-0) and shredded the defending champs at The Stick (26-10). Combine that with their rampage through the playoffs (21-0, 24-0, 46-10 wins), the fact that their only loss came with starting QB Jim McMahon on the bench due to injury, they outscored their opponents by 258 points (16+ per game) and the way they manhandled good teams (beat 10-6 Redskins 45-10; beat 10-6 Cowpatties 44-0; beat 10-6 49ers 26-10; beat 10-6 Giants 21-0; beat 11-5 Rams 24-0; beat 11-5 Jets 19-6; beat 11-5 Pats 20-7 and 46-10) and the answer of best team pre-'07 Pats is easy to discern.

The '72 Dolphins are an anomaly. They somehow obtained a preposterously weak schedule, despite winning their division in '71 and advancing to the Super Bowl (where the Cowboys stomped them 24-3). They beat all of two teams with supra-.500 records in the regular season, the 8-6 Giants and the 8-6 Chiefs. They didn't face a team that won its division until the playoffs. And their playoff run (20-14, 21-17, 14-7) is not really the stuff of legends (unless you count Garo Yeprimian's pass attempt).

The Pats are nearly off the charts: highest scoring team ever in both total points and average per game, they outscored opponents by nearly 20 points per game! And the schedule, outside of the AFC East, was actually good. The Pats had to defeat every team in the NFC's best division, including wins over NFC #1 Dallas (48-27 on the road), NFC #5 Giants and NFC #6 Washington (52-7 in Foxboro). They smashed the AFC #3 Chargers (38-14), AFC #4 Steelers (34-13) and dropped the defending champs on the road. They scored more than 70 TDs. And to win the Super Bowl, they'll likely have to beat both the Jags and Colts. A 19-0 run will put them at the top of the pantheon.

Now the fun starts.

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