The Perfect Season
Posted Oct. 31 at 02:30 AM
There’s been some talk about it already, but after eight weeks it’s fair to talk about the perfect season. It’s happened before, but not in the era of the 16-game schedule. Two teams are vying for the record, but will either of them achieve historic notoriety?
Who do you think has the better chance? Miami or St. Louis?
Oh, there are also a couple of undefeated teams too, and I think they play each other soon. You might hear something about it on television if you watch closely. But this other record -- the elusive 0-16 season -- is also one to watch, because it does have fantasy implications.
In fact, it might be more important to fantasy owners. The main cogs in the winning wheels -- Brady, Moss, Manning, Addai, Wayne, Clark, Harrison, Welker -- are already on fantasy rosters. But if the Rams or Dolphins (or both) genuinely makes a run at the perfect season, their week 15 and 16 games will be worth watching.
Teams want to be undefeated. It would be a fantastic end to the regular season. But the winless teams need to win a game. Nobody wants to eclipse Tampa Bay’s 0-14 futility in 1976. The good teams have several goals, but the main one is to win the Super Bowl. But the bad teams have just one goal: Defeat somebody. Anybody. Do whatever it takes to win. I think we might see some inspired performances if a record is on the line.
And not necessarily from the winless teams themselves. Their desperation is matched by their opponents, because nobody wants to be the team that fell to a winless loser. In 1977, the Buccaneers traveled to New Orleans and defeated the Saints handily for their first win in 27 tries. Coach Hank Stram was so distraught after losing to the Bucs that he burned the game film. Then he was fired. Do you think anybody wants to lose to an 0-14 or 0-15 team this year?
Unfortunately for the Rams and Dolphins (and fortunately for you) their opponents are pretty formidable. The Rams face Green Bay and Pittsburgh, while the Dolphins meet Baltimore and –yes -- New England.
Now, all this talk of a perfect season could be for nothing. The Colts, Patriots, Rams and Dolphins could all have a “1” in that other column by the time your playoffs start. While that would have an adverse effect on the good teams, who might rest their starters or only let them play for part of the games, it’s different with the others. If they somehow win a game, they’ll try to win two. If they won a road game, they’ll try to get one at home for their fans. If they think there’s a chance of saving their jobs, they’ll try to finish the season strong.
And while playing a one-loss team isn’t the same as playing an undefeated one, the teams facing the Rams and Dolphins will still play hard even if they have a win or two. The Steelers, Ravens, Packers and Patriots are all playoff contenders, after all. Some of them might need wins to claim their division or keep their playoff seed, or just stay alive for a post-season spot. They want to finish the season strong, and the last thing the coaches will allow is a letdown against an inferior opponent. You can’t go into the playoffs with a loss against the worst team in the league hanging over your head. The fear of a letdown alone should create some inspiring and valuable fantasy performances.
My advice is to forget about the Colts and Patriots. Make some trade offers if you want, but don’t be surprised if you get rejected. If you don’t have them, you’ll probably have to do without them. But Steelers, Ravens and Packers? Those are good teams with good players ... but they might be available. You could get some of them and hope their playoff opponents keep losing. Whether they’re operating from ambition or fear of embarrassment, you might see some of their best games against the worst competition. If a team goes 1-15 ... nobody wants to be the “1.” If you can take advantage of that, you might be able to overcome the teams who have players on those “other” currently-perfect teams. It’s several weeks away, but it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on the future. You might need every advantage you can get. Good luck this week.
Feel free to make your “perfect season” predictions below. You can also reach Michael Murillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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