Sports Outside the Beltway

Patriots Awesome But No Lock to Win Super Bowl

Hall of Fame scribe Rick “Goose” Gosselin believes the New England Patriots have a legitimate shot at going undefeated. But he also thinks there’s a better-than-even chance that they won’t win the Super Bowl.

Plenty of NFL teams have looked unstoppable after 10 weeks.

The 2005 Indianapolis Colts started 10-0 in 2005. So did the Miami Dolphins in 1984. Both were dominant on offense, just like these Patriots. Peyton Manning with those Colts and Dan Marino with those Dolphins were both carving up NFL secondaries at a record clip, as is Tom Brady this season. But neither the Colts or Dolphins wound up winning the Super Bowl those seasons.

In the 27 seasons since 1980, the team with the best record in the NFL after 10 weeks managed to win the Super Bowl only a dozen times.

In 1988, the Buffalo Bills were steaming along with a 9-1 record and an explosive offense with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed. The San Francisco 49ers were sitting back in the pack at 6-4 at the 10-game mark but wound up winning the Super Bowl that year.

Here’s a look at the 10-game mark since 2000, listing teams with the best records and the teams that won the Super Bowl that season:

Year Best record Teams
2000 8-2 Miami, Minnesota, Oakland, St. Louis, Tennessee
Super Bowl champion: Baltimore (6-4 after 10 games)
2001 8-2 Chicago, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis)
Super Bowl champion: New England (5-5 after 10 games)
2002 8-2 Green Bay, Tampa Bay
Super Bowl champion: Tampa Bay
2003 9-1 Kansas City
Super Bowl champion: New England (8-2 after 10 games)
2004 9-1 New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh)
Super Bowl champion: New England
2005 10-0 Indianapolis
Super Bowl champion: Pittsburgh (7-3 after 10 games)
2006 9-1 Chicago, Indianapolis
Super Bowl champion: Indianapolis

So there’s still a lot of football to be played. Coach Bill Belichick and his Patriots are right each week when they say in their drab monotone voices that they haven’t accomplished anything yet. It’s not how you start a season that matters. It’s how you finish it.

Quite right. The smart money has to be on the Pats. But, even if they’re healthy, winning three straight games against the best teams in the league isn’t easy.

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