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Published:November 4th, 2009 05:00 EST
The NFL's Imperfect Perfect Teams

The NFL's Imperfect Perfect Teams

By Geoff Dean

 It was the best of times and the worst of times for the undefeated teams of the NFL this year. As the weekend began, there were three little Indians (should I say Native Americans) and now there are only two.

 First of all, the Denver Broncos left the ranks of the undefeated with a convincing loss at Baltimore. In their defense, the Ravens are a very good team, probably playoff-bound and as always, are especially powerful on defense. Furthermore, Baltimore is a tough place to play (although, where is an easy place to play on the road? Oakland, maybe?) If Denver can bounce back next week, the loss is not necessarily anything to feel too ashamed of. It may even be helpful, in my twisted logic, by taking the burden of an undefeated season off of them and letting them drift back out of the spotlight for a while, while, at the same time, deflating any over inflated egos that might have been developing.

 More concerning, perhaps, were the successes of the two remaining undefeated teams, the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. Out of the spotlight, as all eyes focused on the Favre homecoming, the Colts hosted a San Francisco 49ers team which while young and improving, should have been a relative simple challenge to overcome. They were not.

 The 49ers scored an early long running touchdown and played serious defense all day, bottling up the suddenly not so explosive Colts` offense by shutting down the running game and pressuring Manning probably the most he has been pressured this season. If not for a gimmick play, a pass for a touchdown by running back, Joseph Addai, the Colts would have joined the Broncos in the loser`s circle. The game raised serious questions about the offensive line and the running game as well as the perpetual one about Manning`s toughness. No one doubts his skill, of course, but can he handle the pressure. An issue that had been seemingly laid to rest has been resuscitated, for this week, at least.

 More disturbing still, (I am Colts` fan, born and raised on the east side of Indianapolis. If you want fairness and impartial judgment, look elsewhere) the Colts seemed lethargic and unprepared, phoning it in against a supposedly inferior opponent, a common mistake of undefeated teams. When you start to take teams or games for granted, you are headed for a world of pain. Here`s hoping the coaching staff is giving (and getting) an earful this week.

 The Saints had some of the opposite problems against the Atlanta Falcons. Again at home and favored, although against a serious rival in their division, the Saints managed to win if not to impress. The offense with quarterback, Drew Brees, and running back, Reggie Bush, among others, having stand out games, scored a lot of points and racked up a lot of yards. But the defense did not stop the Falcons that much, either. Especially disturbing from a Saints` point of view, Michael Turner ran for 151 yards, his best numbers this year, against a suddenly porous Saints run defense. Even worse, the Saints allowed a late field goal and a recovered onside kick by the Falcons that gave them one last chance to tie the game. As Saints coach, Sean Payton, put it, "We did a lot of things well and yet we did a lot of things that made it close at the end."

 A win is a win is a win, I suppose. 7-0 should be preferable to 6-1. After all, both the Saints and Colts could go 2-7 the rest of the season and still probably make the playoffs. 4-5 and they are all but assured a first round bye. Still, both teams looked far from perfect. Then again (the twisted logic resurfaces), maybe a narrow victory against a weaker team at home was just what the teams needed to wake them up, jar them out of complacency, and bring it to them that they are not perfect, just undefeated. If it does that for them, I say, "Congratulations to the Colts and the Saints (and the Broncos)!"