This Years Patriots Are Almost On Pace To Be The GOAT

2Chicago Bears19426-01751 TEAMYEARRECORDELO AFTER 6 WEEKS 1Chicago Bears19866-01756 23Indianapolis Colts20056-01697 8Chicago Bears19435-0-11718 Once again, the New England Patriots find themselves atop the NFL heap: 5-0 so far this year with the league’s best points-per-game margin. Las Vegas oddsmakers consider New England far and away the best team in football. Excellence isn’t unfamiliar for the Pats; just last month, we anointed their 2007 squad1Unbeaten in the regular season. as the best single-season team in NFL history. But this year’s version is also one of the greatest teams in NFL history — through a season’s first six weeks.Of course, that last qualifier is important; the Patriots aren’t even a third of the way through their schedule, and you don’t win any prizes for being really good going into Week 7. On the other hand, the Patriots are really, really good.We can measure this using Elo ratings, one of our favorite metrics for ranking football teams. You can read the fine details of how they work here, but in a nutshell, Elo assigns each team a strength rating based on how likely it thinks that team is to win games in the future. The ratings are simple — their only inputs are the score, strength of opponent and location of each game — but they’re also predictive and self-correcting, so a team’s strength estimate is constantly evolving.And in the case of the 2015 Patriots, that rating is ridiculously good. Through the first six weeks of an NFL season,2Which technically encompasses only five games for the Patriots, because they had a bye in Week 4. only three teams have ever possessed a higher Elo rating than New England’s current mark of 1736: 5San Francisco 49ers19905-01734 19Green Bay Packers19626-01702 12New England Patriots20045-01714 7Denver Broncos19986-01724 11Miami Dolphins19735-11714 15Philadelphia Eagles19505-11711 9Pittsburgh Steelers19795-11717 16Miami Dolphins19846-01709 13Canton Bulldogs19236-01714 24New England Patriots20115-11695 25Cleveland Browns19515-11693 22Los Angeles Rams19686-01697 14Green Bay Packers19635-11713 18Minnesota Vikings19705-11707 3New England Patriots20076-01748 10Dallas Cowboys19944-11716 21Chicago Bears19415-11698 17Green Bay Packers19306-01708 4New England Patriots20155-01736 6Green Bay Packers20116-01728 20Chicago Bears19346-01698 I wrote three weeks ago, when they were 3-0, that this year’s Pats were unlikely to match the 2007 team’s 16-0 regular season record … and they still aren’t. (New England has roughly a 7 percent chance of going undefeated now.) But the Patriots are within striking distance of where the ’07 Pats were at the same point that season, and that ought to strike fear in the hearts of New England’s remaining 11 opponents.CORRECTION (Oct. 23, 10:50 a.m.): An earlier version of a table in this article listed the 1950 Philadelphia Eagles twice. One of the entries, which represented the Elo of the Eagles after five games, was incorrect and has been removed. The teams below that entry have each been moved up a slot, and the 2011 Patriots were added to the list as the 25th team.CORRECTION (Oct. 25, 1:25 p.m.): An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect record for the 1931 Green Bay Packers through the first six weeks of the season. The team was 6-0, not 7-1. The Packers’ Elo through those six weeks was too low for them to be in the top 25, so we have removed them, moved the teams below up a slot, and added the 1951 Cleveland Browns.

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