And then there were three. With the Denver Broncos losing this past Sunday up at Lucas Oil Stadium to the Colts, there stands one less undefeated team in the NFL. The teams that are left unbeaten are the Carolina Panthers, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the New England Patriots. Some have had a harder road to 8-0 than others, but as it stands halfway, these are the three best teams in the NFL.
The Carolina Panthers find themselves undefeated right now because of the identity that head coach Ron Rivera has been trying to implement for a really long time. The way that they have been winning these games is through running the ball and great defensive plays. The Panthers lead the NFL in rushing with 142.3 rushing yards per game. A big part of this is not just running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, but also the incredibly athletic play of Cam Newton. He has more rushing yards than Eddie Lacy, CJ Anderson, and Joseph Randle, and he is tied for the third most rushing touchdowns in the entire NFL (behind Devonta Freeman and Chris Ivory). The fact that he is doing this as a quarterback is unbelievable. When it comes to their defense, it has been a major step up from where they were last year. This year, they have a top 10 scoring defense and considering some of the teams that they have had to play so far that is very impressive. Look for Carolina to keep the ball rolling especially being able to get past the two hardest games on their schedule (at Seattle and vs Green Bay).
The Cincinnati Bengals are unbeaten at this point because of the step up in play from their offense and a major player, Andy Dalton. The Bengals quarterback finds himself top 10 in the NFL in yards and touchdowns, and top five fewest in interceptions which has brought the team all the way to be top five in scoring thus far this season. Combine this with the fact that they have the fourth ranked scoring defense, it is fair to say that the Bengals have a very good team. The one thing that worries me about the Bengals is that they have only had one true test so far this season. Beating Seattle in overtime was a good win for them, but they have only had one win this season against a team with a better than .500 team and that was the banged up Steelers. Since they are scheduled to play at Arizona, vs St. Louis, vs Pittsburgh, and at Denver at some point the rest of the way, look for the Bengals to be a 12 or 13 win team come seasons end.
Lastly, the New England Patriots have been the best team in the NFL so far this season. The reason for this is because they have the best coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick, and quarterback, Tom Brady, who is playing the best season of his career at the age of 38. The Patriots are showing signs of looking like the same team that in 2007 went 16-0 in the regular season. Tom Brady so far this season is third in the league in passing yards, first in touchdowns, first in interceptions, and fourth in completion percentage. To go along with this, the Patriots are also winning their games by a margin of over 16 points per game. The entire NFL has to be aware because it's the Tom Brady revenge tour. He is laying waste to absolutely everybody that comes between him and that record setting fifth ring. As for the rest of the season, the Patriots have only one game on their schedule that could result in a loss, which is playing at Mile High against Denver in week 12. I think that they will end up winning this and the rest of their eight remaining games on their schedule and be the only team to finish 16-0.