Mark Craig's Sunday Insider: Packers won't go unbeaten

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 13, 2011 - 12:47 AM

The odds that Green Bay -- or any team -- can run the table are quite long, and the pressure ramps up as the winning streak goes on.

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Tom Brady and New England were 18-0 four years ago -- before losing to the Giants in Super Bowl XLI.

Photo: Julie Jacobson, AP

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Here are two of the easiest questions to answer as the NFL heads into the second half of its 92nd season:

1. Are the Packers a great team?

Answer: Yes. Aaron Rodgers is having the best season by a quarterback in about, oh, 92 years.

2. Will the Packers go undefeated?

Answer: No.

"There's a reason only one team has ever gone undefeated," said Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. "It's hard to do."

The league is nearing the end of its first century and still only one team has made it from the start of the regular season through the end of a championship game undefeated and untied. That, of course, would be the 17-0 Miami Dolphins of 1972.

Only seven other teams in NFL history have even come close to completing perfection. The 1920 Akron Pros (8-0-3), the 1922 Canton Bulldogs (11-0-1), the 1923 Bulldogs (11-0-1) and the 1929 Packers (12-0-1) all finished with ties. The 1934 and 1942 Bears and the 2007 Patriots all were undefeated before losing in the championship game.

As dominant as the Packers offense is this year, it's no better than Tom Brady and the Patriots were when they started 18-0 four years ago. Yet that offense was overwhelmed on the worst of all days, Super Bowl Sunday.

At 8-0, the Packers aren't even halfway through what it would take to join the 1972 Dolphins. Yet because of Rodgers and the offense, the buzz already has begun.

"You see some media outlets talking about an undefeated season, but it really hasn't come into this locker room or even approached anyone's thought process," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. "If we can continue to win, I'm sure it will become more of a topic of conversation. But for right now I can assure you that it definitely hasn't crept into this locker room or affected our play."

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was a player on the 1985 Bears team that started 12-0, lost at Miami and went on to run the table and win the Super Bowl. He also was an assistant coach on the 2005 Colts team that started 13-0 and the 2006 Colts team that started 9-0 en route to winning the Super Bowl.

He said 8-0 is too early to begin feeling the pressure of an undefeated season. It's also a month or longer before coach Mike McCarthy would face the tricky decision coaches face when it comes to risking injuries once playoff positioning has been established.

"The longer you're undefeated, the more the drama builds," Frazier said. "It can be overwhelming if you are not a mature team. But [the Packers] seem to be."

The Packers' eight remaining regular-season games are against seven teams with a combined record of 32-25 (.561). After the Vikings on Monday night, the Packers play at home against the Buccaneers (4-4), at Detroit (6-2), at the Giants (6-2), home against the Raiders (5-4), at Kansas City (4-4) and home against the Bears (5-2) and Lions.

The most difficult game, at least on paper, appears to be the Giants. Ranked third in sacks per pass play, the Giants are similar in pass rushing skills to the team that derailed the Patriots' perfect season four years ago.

The Vikings would appear to be the easiest game. However, they head to Lambeau Field coming off a win, a bye week and the confidence of playing the Packers close in a 33-27 loss three weeks ago.

"Every team is beatable," Allen said. "We got to go up there and give them their first loss."

Or, as Frazier put it even better, "Our goal is to squelch the talk of an undefeated season after Monday night."

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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