Why Is It So Hard To Go Undefeated In The NFL?

January 22, 2020
Dolphins 1972

Updated: June 11, 2024

Ever wondered why is it so hard to go undefeated in the NFL?.

The last NFL team that had a perfect season was 2007’s New England Patriots when they came short in the 17-14 super bowl loss to New York Giants.

In the year 2015, the Carolina Panthers won a whopping 14 games to start the year before they lost to Atlanta Falcons in the panther’s 15th game.

Also, back in 2009, the Indianapolis colts achieved the same rank before they witnessed the end of their perfect season. In both cases, the colts and panthers eventually lost the super bowl.

Why Is It So Hard To Go Undefeated In The NFL

Before the NFL shifted from the 14 matches season to a regular season with 16 games, 1972’s Miami Dolphins completed an amazing season and playoffs on their route to winning the super bowl triumph with a clean 17-0.

To date, Miami Dolphins remain the only team to have won the super bowl without losing a single regular-season competition.

The chance of the NFL team going a complete regular season without winning any contest is significantly higher than going undefeated. Back in 2017, the Cleveland Browns were a symbol of futility over the past few years, as the team led by Hue Jackson never won a single match in the entire season in northeast Ohio.

On the other hand, back in 2008, Detroit Lions went ahead to become the first team to lose every match in the full season since the 2nd world war, which is everything you need, to know that the season went very wrong.

If the previous regular seasons have helped us learn anything, then this must be the fact that there are only a few great teams, which are followed by a series of clubs in the mediocre class.

There is a wide gap between the good teams and others which has resulted in some people asking what are the possibilities of a high flying team like the New England Patriots going a full season undefeated?

NFL Power Rankings

One thing that is for sure, is that it is very hard for a team to go undefeated in the NFL. As perfect as the England Patriots look, perfection is not easy.

The same applies to other squads that remain undefeated.

The Colts teased their fans two years ago when they had a 13-0 start and everyone knows how they ended up.

As the Dallas Cowboys race past their opponents with the offense that seems to be running on jet fuel, but still being managed by Wade Phillips with a 49-35 record.

Then we have the Green Bay Packers, which have been having an amazing four-week run. Not even the Wisconsin faithful’s thought this was possible.

NFL Power Rankings

It is technically harder for a team to have a perfect run in the NFL now with the existing parity driven environment.

It is for this reason that the 1972 Miami dolphins were the only team that went undefeated in the regular season, and the team doesn’t have to worry about the end of their annual celebrations due to their historic accomplishment.

As the NFC director said, even if you were to put a gun in his head and ask him to bet on a team going undefeated in the NFL, he wouldn’t, mainly because chances of that ever happening is almost impossible.

Why Is It So Hard To Go Undefeated In The NFL?

The following are some of the reasons why it is so hard to go undefeated in the NFL.


A near-perfect roster is one of the first things a squad needs to warrant a perfect season.

However, these are very hard to come across in the NFL today, mainly because of just one reason, which is the salary cap.

From the time the league adopted the hard cap back in 1994, it has become profoundly difficult for any team to stockpile this level of talent that helped the dolphins realize their dreams with a magical season, then the dolphins had a 6 future of Famers.

You currently don’t see the incredible teams that you saw a few years ago.

Unlike in the 70s and 80s when franchises like Miami, Dallas, and Pittsburgh had many great players, there is a greater balance of talent now than it was a few years back. This makes it very hard for only one team to dominate and win the season undefeated.

Even though you had a series of possible canton candidates, there are higher chances of injuries and finding the most experienced and seasonal backups now is also more difficult now than it was a few years back.

Because the 1972 Miami dolphins won 11 matches with Earl Morrall playing as a backup for the starter Bob Griese, the injured quarterback then anything can happen.

Currently, there is no way a squad can manage to go undefeated with this kind of setback, not even those teams that are as balanced at the Indianapolis and New England.

Can you imagine what will happen if the England Patriots and the Colts lost Tom Brady and Peyton Manning respectively?.

This would make the end of these teams because these are incredible players.


A great defense is one of the most underrated aspects of a perfect NFL season. This is because all teams that have made a run at the 1972’s dolphin’s record have keenly watched their defense weaken at the end of the winning streak.

Dolphins 1972

This already happened to the 1985’s Chicago bears that won twelve games straight until their overhyped defense had an encounter with Dan Morino and the Miami Dolphins fast strike passing tackle.

Also, this happened to the Denver Broncos back in 1998 that opened the season with thirteen wins before their ordinary defense was exposed by the New York Giants in the 20-16 loss.

This also happened to the Colts back in 2005, which had a near-perfect start with 13-0 before losing to the San Diego team which opened the game with 16 clean points.

Two points can be made here:

First, the NFL seems to have changed the rules a lot to favor offenses which makes it very hard to build excellent defenses.

Secondly, the cost of the investment in the possibly great defense shows that there is less cash to be spent on the defense and this is forcing teams to become overly dependent on the one-dimensional type of approach.

Consider the seasons 4-0 teams.

The patriots and colts have great defenses, but none of them is dominant.

On the other hand, the Packers have perfectly improved defenses, but unfortunately, they still rank 19th in the yards allowed.

On the other hand, the Cowboys are currently having injury issues with their important players.

These are some of the reasons why you can expect their defenses to start becoming better this season.


One of the toughest parts of chasing a perfect undefeated season is the hype it creates.

Win about 10 consecutive matches and even before you know it, a media circus has already developed.

If your team is not careful, misplaced priorities and swelled egos can easily develop in your locker room, probably not enough to ruin the entire season, but certainly sufficient to cost you at least one game.

For example, consider the 1985 Bears, the team made great plans in advance to shoot their infamous “super bowl shuffle” clip a day after the game that was scheduled to take place on Monday night in Miami.

Could the Bears stubbornness have played a role in the 38-24 loss?.

Were the players worried more about the video clip rather than Morino?.

While the answer to this is not easy, you can bet on the fact that the smallest distraction can undoubtedly make the team lose focus.

Pursuing records means getting you under the big spotlight and not all players can handle the newfound fame the right way.

One of the biggest things you should think about is whether the younger players will professionally handle the attention they receive.

While the older guys might handle things in a much better day, which is how games are won, the younger players can be easily distracted by the things being said about the team.


The truth of the matter is there are very few teams if any, that openly talks about finishing the season undefeated.

Many teams start the season talking about securing the home field advantage or winning a division, but after they reach these goals everything starts changing.

If any team goes undefeated, they better have some amazing backups and a very easy schedule down a stretch. This is because the more you win in the regular season, the better your chances of making sure that the team is prepared for the postseason.

A team that wants to go undefeated should not just focus on perfection, but playoffs are an amazing factor to consider.

However, most teams tend to think of perfection and this is the reason why the 1972 Miami Dolphins might keep celebrating every year because it is highly likely that they would be a single team that will break their record by going a full season undefeated.

Which Sportsbooks to bet your Team goes Undefeated

Wondering where you can place your bets that your team will complete the NFL season undefeated, try Bovada, BetOnline or Mybookie.ag for an incredible betting experience.

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Author Andy

Hi I'm Andy and as a regular bettor on sports I know where to spot a good sportsbook sign up deal. With over 25 years of placing wagers on horse racing and football I can lend my expertise to writing and advising you on everything sports and NFL betting. To your success.

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