Can Any Team Go 17-0 This Season In The NFL?

The news that BetMGM Sportsbook has taken more money on the Tamp Bay Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl, compared to any other team, isn’t perhaps that surprising.

Bruce Arians has managed to bring back almost everybody that was part of the Bucs victory last season, while adding some intriguing options through free agency and the NFL Draft too.

The two biggest bets made on the Bucs to win the Super Bowl with BetMGM have been a $30,000 wager at 7/1 and a $25,000 bet made at 8/1.

The Bucs are currently 6/1 with BetMGM and are a close second-favorite behind the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl next season.

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A Regular Season Of Perfection?

Another interesting aspect of the support for the Bucs has been a couple of big money bets

Courtesy of Jeffrey Beale – CC.BY.3.0

placed on the Bucs going 17-0 in the regular season.

One punter placed a $10,000 bet at odds of +5,000 on the Bucs to go 17-0 and then a short time later a second bet was placed of $28,200 ay odds of +3,000. The first bet would win $500,000 and the second $846,000 if the Bucs were to go the regular season undefeated.

Of course, that is a huge ask, even for a team as talented and experienced as the current Super Bowl Champions.

So what are the odds of the Bucs, or indeed any other team, going the season 17-0?

Is 17-0 Feasible?

From 1934, just four teams have completed undefeated regular seasons with no ties. Only

Courtesy of Jeffrey Beale – CC.BY.S.A 4.0

one of those teams has gone on to win the Super Bowl.

The 1934 Chicago Bears won all 13 regular season games before losing the NFL Championship Game to the New York Giants. Eight years later, the Bears won all 11 regular season games but lost the Championship game to Washington.

In 2007, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick went very close with the New England Patriots, winning all 16 regular season games, plus two playoff matches before losing in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.

The only team to have a perfect season and win the Super Bowl are the famous 1972 Miami Dolphins, who had 14 regular season wins, as well as three playoff victories, including the Super Bowl.

Given how many seasons there have been in the NFL since 1934. It is therefore relatively easy to say that while a 17-0 season is feasible, it is not very likely.

An Extra Game

There are a number of other factors which makes backing any team to go 17-0 this season

Tennessee Titans, CC BY 3.0

a highly risky bet.

Firstly, there is the fact that teams have an extra game to play. This will be the first season with 17 regular season matches, which alone makes it more difficult to win all games than any season that has passed beforehand.

Then of course there is the level of competition in the NFL. Even in divisions where one team could be set to dominate (such as the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs, or the NFC South with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) there are still some very tough divisional opponents teams need to face twice a year.

The Bucs will have to face the Saints (who topped that division last season) as well as the improving Panthers twice. The Chiefs have three difficult teams in the Broncos, Raiders and Chargers in their division.

Then you need to consider the other games teams face this year. The Chiefs, for example, will face a very tricky start against the Browns, Ravens, Chargers, Bills and Titans in five of their first seven games, all of whom are rated to be potential playoff teams this season.

Add to that games later in the season against the Packers, Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers and that looks a tough ask to win every game.

Similarly, the Bucs have some tough fixtures to come in the early weeks of the season with games against the Rams, Patriots and Dolphins. Then later in the season they face the Colts and Bills too.

The same is true for almost any other NFL team you wish to consider and it is this strength of schedule and opponent which makes a perfect regular season so unlikely.

Other Factors

Then there are other factors to consider. If a team reaches 13-0 or 14-0 then it is likely that they will have wrapped up their division and perhaps even their Conference and a top 2 seed position for the playoffs. If that is the case, why would a head coach risk key players in the final few games of the season?

We have seen on many occasions teams resting starters for the final one, two or even three games of the season as they have qualification sewn up. That of course means weaker teams. It is why the Kansas City Chiefs lost their final game of the regular season last year.

Then of course there are other intangibles like injuries. A 17-0 season presumes that all key players are fit almost all the time and that any back-ups can come in and do a great job covering. In the rough and tumble of the modern NFL, injuries will happen to all teams and many teams will lose star men and that makes a perfect season all the more unlikely.

There is also the fact that there is no trophy awarded for a 17-0 season and it all feels rather flat if you manage that but do not win the Super Bowl at the end of it.

Just ask Tom Brady if he’d swap that Super Bowl loss to the Giants in 2007 for a regular season loss and another Super Bowl ring.

In truth, I feel it will be many more years before we have another perfect regular season and it will take a combination of factors, weak schedule, a dominant team in an easy division, hall of fame players in numerous positions and a massive chunk of good luck before anyone even gets close.

So, good luck with those bets on the perfect regular season, but I’ll keep my cash in my pocket.


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