NFL: Can the New England Patriots Really Go Undefeated in 2017?

U.S. President Barack Obama poses for photos with members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins including head coach Don Shula, quarterback Bob Griese, and running back Larry Csonka.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only undefeated team in NFL history. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Achieving perfection is a nearly impossible task in the National Football League. In fact, it has only been done once. The New England Patriots came within one game of accomplishing the feat in 2007, but the 1972 Miami Dolphins remain the only team in NFL history to finish a season with a perfect record (they went 14-0 during the regular season and 3-0 in the postseason).

With the parity of today’s NFL, it may be a long time before football fans ever see another team achieve perfection. Nonetheless, we identified six teams that have a chance of completing a perfect season in 2017, ranking them in descending order (from least likely to most likely).

6. Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with Ezekiel Elliott after scoring a touchdown in 2016.

The Cowboys should be one of the toughest teams in the NFC in 2017. | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Simply put: The Cowboys are undoubtedly contenders in the NFC, but their chances of going undefeated are extremely slim. On top of playing in one of the toughest divisions in the league (the NFC East), America’s Team faces road games against the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, and Oakland Raiders, as well as home games against the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Seattle Seahawks. Long story short, the Cowboys will have a difficult time replicating their success from the 2016 season.

5. New York Giants

Eli Manning of the New York Giants looks to throw.

The Giants have everything in place to contend for a Super Bowl in 2017. | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Giants have everything in place to contend for a Super Bowl title. Their offense will likely be one of the more explosive in the league. Their offensive line and their running game could both be better. However, veteran quarterback Eli Manning will thrive with wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard, and tight ends Evan Engram and Will Tye. Where the G-Men could be really special, though, is on defense. Many experts expect them to contend for the honor of top NFL defense in 2017.

We are far less optimistic when it comes to the idea of the Giants going undefeated, however. Ben McAdoo’s team will have six tough NFC East divisional games; road games against the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and Arizona Cardinals; and home games against the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. At the end of the day, we see the Giants winning 11 or 12 games in 2017.

4. Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers gestures during a game at Lambeau Field.

The Packers will be tough to beat if Aaron Rodgers plays well. | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

This one is simple. If Aaron Rodgers plays at an MVP-caliber level in every game this season, the Packers will have a legitimate chance at entering the NFC Playoffs with a perfect 16-0 record. If not, they will likely drop a game or two along the way. Nobody is perfect (Rodgers is human, after all). So, we see the Packers finishing the 2017 regular season with 13 or 14 wins.

3. Seattle Seahawks

Cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates with free safety Earl Thomas after making an interception against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Seahawks are still one of the best teams in the NFL. | Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

The Seahawks’ window of opportunity to compete for a Super Bowl title with their current roster is starting to dwindle. Their core group of players (particularly on defense) still has two or three good years left. So, the pressure is on to win big in 2017. For as great as their defense is, this team will only have a chance at perfection if their offense finds some consistency.

With games against the Green Bay Packers (road), New York Giants (road), Houston Texans (home), Atlanta Falcons (home), and Dallas Cowboys (road), an undefeated season is unlikely for the Seahawks. Still, we expect them to win 13 or 14 games in 2017. A side note: Either the Seahawks or Packers will see their quest for a perfect season come to an end after only one game (they’ll face each other in Week 1).

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown celebrate a touchdown.

The Steelers are going to score a lot of points in 2017. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Bottom line: The Steelers are the biggest (and quite possibly the only) threat to the New England Patriots in the AFC. Pittsburgh still has a lot to prove on the defensive side of the ball. But their offense may be the best in the league. There could always be a surprise, but in our eyes, the Steelers’ pursuit of perfection will likely come down to three games: a home game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 12, a home game against the New England Patriots in Week 15, and a road game against the Houston Texans in Week 16.

1. New England Patriots

Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots confers with Tom Brady during a time out.

The Patriots are a serious threat to go undefeated in 2017. | Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The 2017 Patriots have a genuine chance at ending the 1972 Dolphins’ annual tradition of celebrating their standing as the only team in NFL history to achieve perfection. New England’s offense has the potential to be one of the greatest in league history, and their defense has always been strong under Bill Belichick.

On top of all that, they’ll likely be favored in every game they play in 2017 (assuming Tom Brady stays healthy). All said, we believe that the Patriots will roll through their regular season and the AFC Playoffs and enter Super Bowl 52 with a chance at pulling off a perfect season from start to finish.

Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference and ESPN.