Only twice in NFL history has a team ever gone undefeated in the regular season in the Super Bowl era. Only once has a team gone 16-0. That was the New England Patriots in 2007, but they went on to lose the Super Bowl, which triggered a celebration for the alumni of the Miami Dolphins team of 1972 that remains the only unbeaten team.
Could the 2020 Baltimore Ravens be next? Oddsmakers and analytics have them favored in all 16 games this year. Although they were defeated, 28-12, by the Tennessee Titans in their first postseason game, they went 14-2 in the regular season, their best record in franchise history, which included a 12-0 run to bulldoze their way into the playoffs.
It helps that they have the easiest schedule in the league based on last season’s win-loss records, their opponents having only won .438 percent of their games in 2019. They play the 2-14 Bengals and 6-10 Browns twice, and face off against the NFC East, who barely had a winning team at all. But they also play the Chiefs and the Texans, who, outside of the Patriots, were the only one of their opponents who won at least 10 games in 2019.
Not only do they have the easiest strength of schedule, they will also do the least amount of traveling. They play almost all of their games in the Eastern time zone, to boot. They won’t have to fly between Week Three, when they have a short commute to Washington, and their Bye in Week Eight, which totals a 47-day span in which they don’t have to worry about air travel.
So many things are set up well for the Ravens to succeed this year. Outside of the retirement of Marshal Yanda, they haven’t been hit with much adversity this offseason, other than, you know, the obvious, global pandemic kind of adversity.
“It really is just noise — it’s static, it’s background”, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh recently told reporters when he was asked about the idea of his team being favored to win in every game of the season based on one metric or another. “You can’t let other people define you. You define yourself”.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Baltimore will lose at least one game this year. I know it’s a bold take, the Ravens can do no wrong, etc. But just about everybody loses at some point along the line. And if history has shown us anything, it’s that last year’s win-loss records are often a poor indicator of that team’s quality.