NFL News & Analysis

The NFL's Undefeated: How the nine teams could maintain perfection, and how their streaks can come to an end

2RHYMAB San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) stands behind center Jake Brendel (64) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

After two weeks of high-quality NFL action, nine teams boast perfect 2-0 records. The lofty dreams of an undefeated season remain for these nine teams, but how likely is it?

Of course, it's improbable but not impossible, so we shall look at why each team could stay undefeated while offering a more plausible explanation as to why they will not.

Dare to dream, undefeated NFL teams.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Atlanta Falcons

Why They Can: When this ground attack gets firing, it will be very hard to stop. They are spearheaded by a back who might be viewed as the best in the league by the end of the year, with Bijan Robinson (90.1) boasting the highest grade at the position through two weeks.

Why They Won’t: The defense will struggle to get pressure and lacks the kind of elite, consistent pass-rusher who makes life hard for offenses. Desmond Ridder (45.2) is currently the third lowest-graded quarterback in the league, and despite having some intriguing passing weapons, there hasn’t been a sign he can consistently use them.

Baltimore Ravens

Why They Can: They’re a scary proposition on offense. Lamar Jackson (76.4 PFF grade) is passing the ball well enough, and Zay Flowers (77.2) has done more than just settle into the league. Put that together with a rushing attack that will get yards and a defense that can make plays on the back end, and you're looking at a formula for success.

Why They Won’t: He’s made a good start, but there is a lot of pressure on Odafe Oweh (84.8) to be the guy who wreaks havoc on defense. And when they play the big boys — with all due respect to the Houston Texans and the current version of the Cincinnati Bengals — can they match them?

Dallas Cowboys

Why They Can: That defense is intimidating. Micah Parsons (93.6) is the highest-graded defender in the league right now and a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Several teams have a star player, but not many have the Cowboys' depth, as the team has five front-seven players who boast a 77.0-plus pass-rush grade through two weeks. With a playmaking secondary primed to take advantage of the pressure created, that is a dangerous recipe.

Why They Won’t: After a down year, can Dak Prescott (73.8) return to the kind of form that saw him rightly recognized as one of the top quarterbacks in the league? The game situation hasn’t tested him yet, but it eventually will. Perhaps more so, is the offensive line up to it? You can trust Tyron Smith (78.8) and Zack Martin (84.3), but the rest of the line? Not so much.

Miami Dolphins

Why They Can: Right now, no quarterback is playing better than Tua Tagovailoa (90.9). If he plays well and his weapons stay healthy, how do you stop this passing attack? On defense, that secondary will make plays, too.

Why They Won’t: You can’t predict injuries and missing time, but it’s previously hampered Tagovailoa. Perhaps more worrying is getting lost in the hype and forgetting that we’ve had some streaky play from him in the past. Is Jaelan Phillips (90.1 pass-rushing grade in 2022) a one-year wonder? And if he is, who else can step up?

New Orleans Saints

Why They Can: Whisper it quietly, but the defense is a hard ask for most offenses. They have a shutdown corner in Marshon Lattimore (87.9), an every-down impact linebacker in Demario Davis (89.7) and pass-rushers who can get pressure in Carl Granderson (89.9) and Cameron Jordan (80.7). They will be a handful, especially with competent quarterback play rather than last year's you-only-live-once philosophy.

Why They Won’t: The quarterback play is competent, but is Derek Carr (65.9) enough to get you beyond the NFC South? The 36 points over the first two games suggest maybe not.

Philadelphia Eagles

Why They Can: Their combined offensive and defensive talent in the trenches is quite mind-boggling, especially if you add Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Jalen Carter (90.2) to the mix. Playmakers are everywhere on this offense, and we saw in 2022 that Jalen Hurts can take advantage of them.

Why They Won’t: At the start of the season, we said there were some concerns with all the players who left in free agency, and nothing has changed that. The linebacker group looks worse, and it is one teams can attack.

San Francisco 49ers

Why They Can: There are playmakers absolutely everywhere on offense, and it looks like Brandon Aiyuk (91.4) is elevating his game. You almost take the defense for granted, but no opposition will with Nick Bosa (92.7), one of the scariest edge rushers in the league.

Why They Won’t: Is Brock Purdy (71.2) good enough when it really matters? He is further ahead of where a sophomore seventh-round pick should be, but it would be wrong to compare him to the top-tier quarterbacks. And eventually, he’s probably going to land in a shootout with one of them. It doesn’t help that the offensive line looks like it’s regressed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Why They Can: It’s Baker Mayfield‘s (82.6) world, and we’re all just living in it. Beyond that improbable career resurrection, the defense has a lot of talent, especially in the secondary, even if it hasn’t started the year quite as well as expected.

Why They Won’t: That offensive line has a lot of what-ifs about it, and beating the Vikings and Bears in the fashion they did hasn’t answered that. Then we go back to the Mayfield situation, and we have to question whether it’s truly sustainable.

Washington Commanders

Why They Can: They look like a team that can both run the ball well and then smash you about with their defensive line. There may not be a better front four than the unit led by Jonathan Allen (78.6), especially if Chase Young (76.1) is 100% Chase Young.

Why They Won’t: It would be some story for Sam Howell (67.0) to lead this team to an undefeated season. Despite his interesting skill set, it’s hard to see him making the leap necessary to compete in the NFC East, let alone go all the way.


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