CP Notebook: Odds Favor Last Unbeaten Team

The last unbeaten team in the NFL has some historical trends behind them as they make their run for the Super Bowl. And take a look at some interesting perspectives surrounding Edgerrin James' fumble on Sunday.

While Colts players try to focus more on the Rams than their perfect 5-0 record, the questions are likely to increase if they continue their winning ways. They're the NFL's last undefeated team, the only one now with a sliver of a chance of matching the legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins' feat of playing a perfect season.

"Five-and-oh is great," Colts defensive tackle Corey Simon said, "but does it get you to the Super Bowl? Absolutely not, so that's the focus we need to have."

He's right, of course. But history and the odds have smiled favorably on the NFL's last unbeaten team over the last ten seasons. Six of them played in the Super Bowl and three went on to win it -- The 1999 St. Louis Rams and the 1997 and 1998 Denver Broncos.

Only three teams, including the 1996 Colts, failed to reach their conference's championship game. That year's streaky team, under head coach Lindy Infante, won their first four games. But after splitting a pair of games over the next two weeks, they went on a three-game losing streak. Near the end of the season they put together three consecutive wins to help propel them into the playoffs, but they were blown out by the Steelers 42-14.

When teams start the season as one of 32 teams, presumably with an equal 3.1 percent chance of playing in the Super Bowl, a historical trend that shoots you to 60 per cent is pretty darn significant.

But they're still just numbers. And there's a lot of season ahead.

"For me, I still think November and December is when teams win championships," head coach Tony Dungy said. "Hopefully, whatever the record is, we're playing better in November and December. If we are, we'll be in great shape."

Fumble Doesn't Sit Well With Polian

Colts President Bill Polian this week was disappointed in the Colts offense's lack of patience against the 49ers. And he was especially critical of running back Edgerrin James' attempt to reach out with the ball while stacked up short of the goal line in the first half of play.

Over his first five games, James is averaging 4.4 yards per carry for 519 yards plus 148 yards receiving.

"...the fumble (at the 49ers' 1-yard line in the second quarter) is absolutely inexcusable," Polian said. "Reaching the ball over the goal line is neither a good play nor an excuse and it shouldn't happen. It cannot happen."

And Polian pointed to the fumble as the start of the offense's struggles until much later in the game.

"The fumble got us all out of sync," he said. "Up to that point, we'd been going up and down the field and it looked like it was going to be a nice game. That didn't turn out to be the case because they are a well-coached team with a plan."

The Colts President echoed what many others were saying about the 28 points the Colts put on the board, including many of the players.

"Any time you get five turnovers – force five turnovers – you should score more than we did," he said.

Although James' risky move didn't pay off for the Colts, his typical caretaker role while carrying the ball has been outstanding this season. Last season he coughed up the ball six times during the season, including four times during the month of December. The ill-advised reach for the goal-line against the 49ers resulted in his first fumble of the season through five games, statistically putting him on pace to finish with just three this year.

Premium Members can enjoy added content and analysis on Edgerrin James' season to date, including a trend that defies his reputation in our Thursday, October 12th edition of our Sportswriters' Blog.

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