Every time a discussion comes up about an unbeaten season, the 1972 Miami Dolphins perfect season is mentioned. The New England Patriots have won a record tying 18 consecutive games and should break the record this week against the Dolphins, but the real mark is the one of the unbeaten season and only the Miami Dolphins can make that claim
The head coach of the 1972 Dolphins, Don Shula said recently that the Patriots have a chance at going unbeaten. "They’ve got a real shot at it," Shula said. "They’ve got to win a lot of games to do it, and tough teams down the road. But they certainly are a legitimate threat to do it. They’re a team that’s solid in every way, from ownership to coaching to the players." Shula said that Belichick reminds him of how he was back in 1972. "The way he teaches and coaches, I believe there are a lot of similarities," Shula said. "I give him credit for not letting all the outside influences interfere with his preparation."
The Dolphins perfect season back in 1972 was a bit easier than it is now. Miami played a 14 game schedule with two playoff games and then the Super Bowl. The Patriots have to get through a 16 game regular season instead of the 14 that faced the Dolphins. New England also plays in a much different NFL than the one the Dolphins faced in 1972. This era of NFL football is salary cap driven, parity filled, and very competitive. Back in the 1970’s, Miami often had automatic wins on the schedule. In 2004 that is very rarely the case. This week’s game for New England against Miami is supposed to be an automatic win, but in today’s NFL you just never know.
Does New England really have a shot at an unbeaten season? I don’t think so. The NFL is just too competitive and the season is just too long. Something always goes wrong somewhere along the line. Let’s breakdown the remaining schedule for New England. The Patriots will probably defeat Miami to go 4-0 but they then face a very difficult two game stretch at home against Seattle and the New York Jets. Both of those games will be tough and are definite spots where New England could fall. Road games at Pittsburgh and St. Louis are next and neither of those games will be easy. I think New England loses at least one of the next four games and all of this unbeaten talk will be over. If by chance they get by these four games they still have to travel to Kansas City and the Jets later in the year. It is just so difficult to go unbeaten in today’s NFL, and despite what Don Shula said; I just don’t see it being done.