Of the six teams that entered Week 4 undefeated (excluding the Patriots, who had a bye), only the Cardinals were unable to keep a round number in the loss column.
As it now stands, we have six teams that are potential candidates for the inescapable comparison to the ’72 Dolphins, the only team to ever go undefeated from Week 1 through the Super Bowl.
In the last six seasons, 15 teams have gotten off to a 4-0 start. Two of those teams went on to win the Super Bowl, while 80 percent at least made the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at the six undefeated teams left and where they stand heading into Week 5.
#1 New England Patriots
Well, when you’re the defending champs, you’re probably not going to be too bad the following year. When you have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, though, you’re great no matter what year it is.
All the fuss about Deflategate hasn’t slowed New England down one bit, and the Tom Brady Revenge Tour is in full effect. The old man is third in QB rating, first in yards per game and has his team leading the NFL in point differential (49). Did I mention he’s a two-time MVP, three-time Super Bowl MVP and four-time champ that shows no Peyton Manning-like signs of slowing down?
The receiving corps of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola has gotten the job done, while solid production from shifty running back Dion Lewis has kept the Patriots offense in full throttle. Coach Belichick has done it again with this team.
#2 Green Bay Packers
At this point, there are really two players worth talking about in the MVP conversation, and Aaron Rodgers is one of them. Losing top target Jordy Nelson to an ACL tear in the preseason as well as receiver Davante Adams to an ankle sprain hasn’t slowed down the Packers’ offense one bit.
Randall Cobb has continued to develop into one of the most reliable small receivers in the league, while James Jones returned after being cut from the Giants to step into the role of Rodgers’ favorite red zone target.
Green Bay’s solid defense led by Clay Matthews and running back tag team of Eddie Lacy and James Starks makes this an all-around squad that the rest of the NFC will likely have to play through on the road to Santa Clara.
#3 Cincinatti Bengals
If they keep playing the way they have through four games, this could be the year for Cincinnati. This is the most excited Bengals fans have been since Carson Palmer had healthy knees and the thought of a name change hadn’t even crossed Chad Johnson’s mind yet, and there’s good reason for it.
Andy Dalton is playing like an All-Star (it just sounds better than Pro-Bowler), giving the Bengals the second-best point differential in the league at +44. A.J. Green is as solid as ever, and the 1-2 punch of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard in the backfield is giving teams some problems. The AFC North is yours for the taking, Cincinnati.
#4 Atlanta Falcons
Two games, six touchdowns, five syllables: Devonta Freeman. This electric back came out of nowhere to steal the show in Atlanta, giving them a ground threat that has relieved a lot of pressure from Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’ backs.
Matty Ice is doing what Matty Ice does, and the Falcons have the second-most points in the league as a result. They have some issues to work out on defense, but we’ll have to wait and see if they can separate themselves from the Panthers in the only division that has two 4-0 teams.
Luckily for Atlanta, they have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league, meaning they have a great shot at challenging Green Bay for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
#5 Denver Broncos
If there’s one piece of advice 39-year-old Peyton Manning would give to Tom Brady right now, it’s this: Enjoy being 38. The decline of Mr. NFL Record Book has been excruciatingly noticeable this year yet, somehow, the Broncos are 4-0.
Denver’s defense has saved it on more than one occasion, but Peyton has gotten the job done when he’s needed to, most notably in a comeback win over the Chiefs in which he threw the game-tying touchdown with little time remaining.
Still, Peyton currently ranks 30th in the league in quarterback rating at 80.8, completing just 63.6 percent of passes while throwing a pick in all four games.
The running game hasn’t done much to help either. C.J. Anderson doesn’t look like the game-changing force he was in the later parts of 2014, and other than a 72-yard TD scamper last week — Ronnie Hillman still has much to prove.
Defense and Manning’s legendary track record keep the Broncos in the conversation for Super Bowl contenders for now, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
#6 Carolina Panthers
There were two things we kept hearing about the Panthers offense coming into the season: their lack of depth at receiver and Jonathan Stewart’s new role as the lead back. The receiving corps still isn’t that good and Stewart has been disappointing to say the least, yet Cam Newton has still managed to keep his team right there alongside Atlanta atop the NFC South.
It might just be a matter of time before the Panthers show their true colors, as it seems pretty clear Cam isn’t ready to make a deep playoff run until he’s got a little more experience and a lot more help, but for now, Carolina can bask in its exciting potential.