With 10 weeks down in the regular season and seven more to go, one team remains standing as the only undefeated team in the NFL.
And it's probably not the team anyone would have predicted to be undefeated this late into the season.
That team is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After Sunday's 36-10 destruction of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers are 9-0. A team that missed the playoffs last season has an undefeated record more than halfway through this season, and has to be considered a serious Super Bowl contender.
The Steelers rank in the NFL's bottom-third in total offensive yards and rushing yards. They're middle-of-the-pack in passing yards. But the Steelers rank fifth in scoring at 30.1 points per game.
Defensively, the Steelers rank in the top-10 in fewest rushing, passing and total yards allowed. They are third in scoring defense with just 19.0 points allowed per game.
The Steelers came into the 2020 season with a 38-year-old quarterback who was returning from an injury-plagued 2019. Granted, that QB is future Hall of Fame signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger, but his age and health were big question marks before this season began.
Roethlisberger has looked like he's every bit in his prime while leading the undefeated Steelers, benefiting from the emergence of playmakers like rookie receiver Chase Claypool and second-year receiver Diontae Johnson to go with established standouts like WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, tight end Eric Ebron and running back James Conner.
Pittsburgh's defense is led by linebacker T.J. Watt, who has nine sacks and 15.5 tackles-for-loss so far this season. Watt is in the race for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Head coach Mike Tomlin has been leading the Steelers for 14 years. He has a Super Bowl title under his belt and 149 wins between the regular and postseason.
Good quarterback, good defense, good coaching. The Steelers have the most foundational elements needed to win a championship. So maybe it shouldn't be a big surprise that they are undefeated and might be the NFL's best team right now.
How long can the Pittsburgh Steelers stay undefeated?
Can the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers run the table and finish the season undefeated?
The last team to go at least 9-0 during the regular season was the 2015 Carolina Panthers, who went 14-0 before losing their 15th game. Led by league MVP Cam Newton at quarterback and All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, the Panthers made it to the Super Bowl but lost to the Denver Broncos.
Only two teams in NFL history have gone undefeated for the entire regular season.
In 1972, the Miami Dolphins went 14-0 in the regular season, then won their three postseason games -- including the Super Bowl -- to finish a perfect 17-0. They remain the only undefeated team in NFL history for an entire season.
In 2007, the New England Patriots went undefeated at 16-0 in the regular season, and won their first two playoff games. They went into the Super Bowl at 18-0, but lost to the New York Giants.
The 2020 Steelers have a great chance to go 10-0, as they face the 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday. Their Week 12 matchup against AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens was seen as arguably the toughest game on their schedule, but the Ravens have been hit by several key injuries recently and lost to the sub-.500 Patriots in Week 10.
At this point, the Steelers' Week 14 game at the Buffalo Bills (7-3) looks like the most likely loss on their remaining schedule. If the Bills can't take down the Steelers, there's actually a decent chance that Pittsburgh can go undefeated at 16-0 in the regular season and enter the playoffs with a chance to make history.Published 17 Nov 2020, 13:00 IST