NFL Futures: Will Any Team Go 17-0? (2021)

A perfect season. It’s what every NFL team aspires to, but it’s a true unicorn. In fact, only the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears, 1972 Miami Dolphins, and 2007 New England Patriots have pulled off an undefeated NFL season. Of course, those four teams did not play 17-game seasons, and only the ’07 Patriots played at least 16. Going 17-0 in 2021 will be a daunting task, but will any team be up to it?

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The Candidates

Kansas City Chiefs
Led by sensational quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have gone to the AFC Championship three years in a row, including two straight Super Bowl appearances. They’re understandably projected to finish with double-digit wins and are the early favorites to win the Conference yet again. The AFC is getting better however, and Kansas City has some tough games on the schedule.

Key matchups: Ravens, Bills, Titans, Packers

Strength of Schedule: 11th hardest

Last three years record: 38-10

BettingPros o/u win total: 12.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Led by arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, the Bucs won their second title in franchise history in 2020, and the defending Super Bowl champs will return most of their key players to run it back in 2021. Don’t overlook the fact that Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl in a season that offered a limited off-season due to COVID-19. With a full year of experience under their belts and a normal offseason in which to regroup, this team could be even better in Year 2 of the Brady era. The friendly strength of schedule is a bonus.

Key matchups: Titans, Rams, Colts

Strength of Schedule: 4th easiest

Last year’s record: 11-5

BettingPros o/u win total: 11.5

Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are looking to take the next step in 2021. After winning nearly 73% of games over the last three seasons, the Ravens don’t even have a Conference Championship appearance to speak of, let alone a Super Bowl berth. The team added a couple of new weapons in the receiving game for Lamar Jackson, and if the passing game (ranked dead last in yards per game in 2020) can improve, Baltimore could be even better. The brutal schedule is not a welcome sight.

Key matchups: Chiefs, Colts, Rams, Browns

Strength of Schedule: 2nd hardest

Last three year’s record: 35-13

BettingPros o/u win total: 10.5

Green Bay Packers
Green Bay has gone 13-3 in two straight seasons, but the Packers just can’t get over the hump and make it back to the Super Bowl. The talent is certainly there on both sides of the ball for this team to be a legitimate contender, but turmoil at the most important position leaves some nagging question marks. After a public spat with management, when will Aaron Rodgers show up to camp? If he does, how will he play in 2021 as the reigning MVP? Like the Ravens above, Green Bay’s schedule offers little breathing room.

Key matchups: Bills, Chiefs, Seahawks, Rams

Strength of Schedule: 4th hardest

Last three year’s record: 32-15-1

BettingPros o/u win total: 10.5

Buffalo Bills
Last year, Buffalo won its most games since 1991 behind the breakout of Josh Allen, and the team lost in the AFC Championship to the Kansas City Chiefs. As long as Allen can continue to play at an elite level and prove that 2020 wasn’t just a one-off, this team should be a Super Bowl contender again in 2021.

Key matchups: Packers, Chiefs, Titans, Buccaneers, Colts

Strength of Schedule: 10th easiest

Last two year’s record: 23-9

BettingPros o/u win total: 11.0

The Verdict 

All of the teams featured in this article have a strong shot at winning double-digit games and competing for a Super Bowl title. Going 17-0? That’s a different story and one that’s unlikely to play out. The parity that exists in the NFL is so tremendous that the phrase “any given Sunday” is more than just a sports cliché.

All of these teams have multiple games on the schedule that could end a perfect season, and that includes some contests that weren’t listed as “key matchups.” If history has taught us anything, I wouldn’t bet on a team finishing with an undefeated record – especially not in the first year of an expanded schedule.

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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