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What football teams have gone undefeated in NFL history?

With no team undefeated going into Week 11, we look at just how difficult it is in the NFL to keep a clean sheet. Has it ever been done before?

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 11: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates with Durham Smythe #81 after scoring a rushing touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium on November 11, 2021 in Miami Gar
Michael ReavesAFP

Only one team in the history of the NFL has had a perfect season. The 1972 Miami Dolphins have been written about, spoken about in hushed tones, and studied for their secrets. Secrets which will not be divulged. After losing three of their six preseason games, they went on to win all 12 regular season games, both playoff games and the Super Bowl. They were perfect. For all others, perfection has been so far unattainable.

The nearest that anyone else has come to repeating this success is the 2007 New England Patriots, who went 18-0 before losing Super Bowl XLII to the Giants. The Patriots actually have the record for the most games won in a single season, since expansion through the years has seen the regular season extended by five weeks. But coffee, as they say, is for closers. You don’t get to brag until you have won it all.

During his playing days, Pittsburg Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was often derided as a system quarterback rather than a true talent. The four-time Super Bowl winner shot back that numbers and statistics can say anything you want them to, but the best quarterback in football is the one that wins the Super Bowl.

In the pre-Super Bowl era, there were two teams who came close, the Chicago Bears in 1934 and again in 1942. In both cases the teams went undefeated in the regular season only to lose the NFL Championship Game. A smaller league, this was before the AFL existed, and in the case of the 1942 season, a WWII-depleted roster meant that they only had to win 13 and 11 games respectively.

Since the 1961 NFL expansion, eleven teams have had regular seasons with only one loss. Most of these suffered their loss early in the year. The 2015 Carolina Panthers managed 14-0 before losing to the Falcons to finish 15-1. The 2009 season saw the Saints go 13-0 and the Colts go 14-0 before each team suffered their first loss of the season, both teams going on to face off in Super Bowl XLIV.


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