Posted 11/02/2010 at 03:13 PM
In most NFL seasons we still have an undefeated team or two at this point in the year but we may soon be without a one-loss team, just halfway through the season. The Patriots stand as the lone 6-1 team and New England has not been very impressive statistically. If New England had not delivered such great past results many would call them frauds as some call some of this year’s upstart teams like Kansas City and Tampa Bay. While the Patriots organization continues to make the right moves the schedule ahead in daunting and New England is far from a playoff lock. New England is on the road against tough AFC North teams the next two weeks and also hosts the Colts and the Jets in the next two home games.
On the other end of the spectrum it is hard to rule out any teams from playoff contention. Yes, the Bills at 0-7 are effectively out but this is a team that took two 5-2 squads to overtime the past two weeks on the road. At 1-6 Carolina has a major uphill climb and the results have not been encouraging but the Panthers have some of the best defensive numbers in the league. Dallas is 1-6 despite one of the most productive offenses in the league and this is a team that projected as one of the better teams in the NFL. Denver and San Francisco return from England at 2-6 but in two very weak divisions both teams are still relevant. Recall that last season in a year with standout elite teams a Titans squad that started 0-6 nearly made the playoffs so a lot can still happen. This is a season where several divisions should be won with modest records of 10-6 or worse so everyone is still alive.
Last week six undefeated teams went on the road and the expectation for upsets was certainly high. Two of those teams fell but neither was an upset as Michigan State and Missouri lost on the road as solid underdogs. Oregon was able to pull away for another convincing final margin and Auburn played its most complete game of the season after escaping with narrow wins several times early in the year. Utah and TCU really did not have problems in Mountain West road games to set up a big showdown this week. Boise State has left the front page headlines in recent weeks but the Broncos may be newsworthy this week, good or bad, with an intriguing match-up with a red hot Hawaii team.
In the big picture Alabama is likely the team in the best position to swoop in as a one-loss title team. The Crimson Tide lost early which always is a big advantage in the polls and hosting Auburn will provide the signature win opportunity that the team needs to push out some of the less regarded undefeated teams. Alabama could then possibly have a shot to redeem its one loss in the SEC championship, setting up an attractive title bid campaign. A winner in the potential Nebraska/Oklahoma Big XII match-up won’t bring the same credibility and none of the Big Ten teams are likely to get back in the picture. If Oregon loses, which they certainly could, things could change dramatically but right now it looks like the Ducks have a title spot to lose with the Iron Bowl winner likely moving in as the opponent even over Boise State or the Mountain West champion.