Until Super Bowl XLII, the 2007 season was a perfect storm for the New England Patriots. Despite playing one of the NFL's hardest schedules, the team defeated every one of its opponents up to that point behind a historically efficient offense, an experienced defense and near-flawless special teams. Alas, they ultimately ran out of steam and lost the Super Bowl against the New York Giants.
Still, the 2007 Patriots have been a historic team: They became the first squad to go through a 16-game regular season undefeated, doing it by winning the average game by a ridiculous 19.7 point margin. And at least when it comes to regular season success, they were thus able to set the bench mark by which all other of New England's teams have been and will be measured.
Ten years later, the 2017 Patriots are no different.
Coming off their fifth Super Bowl win, the Patriots have added considerable talent on both offense and defense while being able to stay mostly intact otherwise. Consequently, New England is seen as the consensus Super Bowl favorite and according to USA Today's Nate Davis, a candidate to go 16-0 yet again as evidenced by the 2017 record projections published earlier today.
The author had to say the following about having New England go through a second regular season without a blemish:
New England Patriots (16-0): Is it bold? Sure. Kinda. But it's not like Tom Brady hasn't gone 16-0 before ... (and, really, wouldn't he and Bill Belichick secretly love to add 19-0 to their otherwise incomparable resumes?). And from the FWIW department, Brady went 14-1 last season and appears to be surrounded by an even better cast now, especially if Rob Gronkowski is, in fact, back to 100%. The division should be a cakewalk, and even one of New England's toughest road games – against the Raiders – will be at a neutral site (Mexico City). The most difficult stretch comes from Weeks 13-15, when the Pats play at Buffalo, at Miami (where they typically struggle) and at Pittsburgh for a Monday nighter Dec. 17.
While the reasoning behind seeing the Patriots go 16-0 does make sense, too many variables are in play both internally and externally – from injuries and solid opponents in tough environments to the weather or simply bad luck – that could put an end to the 16-0 bid. The 2007 Patriots experienced it painfully: They dodged all bullets until the very last, most important game.
The 2017 Patriots are obviously a much different team as only two players remain from the historic '07 squad: quarterback Tom Brady and kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Still for them to go undefeated through the regular season again, the starts have to align perfectly. Could it happen? Of course, especially considering how talented the team is. However, predicting an undefeated season is still a bold claim to make in late July.
Then again, if there is one team to defy logic and actually go 16-0 a second time, it is the New England Patriots.
USA Today' predictions not only see the Patriots going 16-0 but also have one of the team's division rivals earn the number one overall draft pick: