Analyzing The Probability Of The Colts And Saints Finishing Undefeated

16-0: Colts vs Saints, Can They Both Do It?

11/18/09 in NFL   |   WhatIfSports   |   7 respect

The New Orleans Saints needed to hold on against one of the NFL's worst teams. The Indianapolis Colts took advantage of a gift from one of the game's best.

The league's two remaining undefeated teams each avoided their closest scares of the season in Week 10. Will it be the closest the Saints and Colts come to losing this year? Which remaining week presents the biggest hurdle? Is there any chance we see two undefeated teams in one season?

With seven weeks remaining, we try to tackle all of those questions.

The St. Louis Rams seemed like the least likely team to give New Orleans fits. After all, the Saints had won six of their eight games by two scores or more. But the Rams held tough and were only defeated when Marc Bulger’s last-ditch heave went unrewarded.

Now the Saints, who have tied a franchise record with nine straight victories, are seven weeks away from a perfect season.

The good news for Drew Brees and New Orleans is that they face four teams that currently have losing records. The bad news is that they've still got New England - the team that had Indianapolis beat last week until a late-game blunder - still on the schedule.

Based on 10,001 simulations of each game left on the NFL schedule (see below), the Saints have an 89% chance of setting a franchise record with a 10-0 start against Tampa Bay this weekend, but there's little doubt that their stiffest remaining test will come in Week 12 against the Patriots. New Orleans gets New England at home and, according to our current numbers, the Saints take down the Patriots nearly two-thirds of the time and by about a touchdown.

If New Orleans makes it past New England, it will almost certainly get by Washington to go 12-0 in Week 13. Then it's on to back-to-back weeks against NFC playoff contenders. Still, at this point, they win three of every four matchups at Atlanta and hosting Dallas, beating each team by about a touchdown as well.

And if they get through that gauntlet, they could be smooth-sailing to 16-0 with a better than 80% chance of taking down Tampa Bay - again - and Carolina to close out the season.

The Saints never have lower than a 65% chance of losing any individual game. But winning all seven of those in a row is another thing. While favored in every game, New Orleans has just a 22.0% chance to duplicate New England's 2007 feat and finish the regular season unblemished.

With regards to the individual statistics we project as part of our fantasy football analysis, Drew Brees finishes the rest of the season with 2,021 passing yards, 17 TDs and 6 INTs to give him a season total of 4,580 yards, 38 TDs and 15 INTs. The team scores 229 points and allows 142 to finish the year averaging exactly 35 points a game and giving up 21.8 a contest.

New Orleans Projected Results in Remaining Games:

Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
11 @Tampa Bay Buccaneers 89 33-18
12 New England Patriots 66 32-25
13 @Washington Redskins 89 32-17
14 @Atlanta Falcons 76 30-23
15 Dallas Cowboys 76 34-22
16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 89 36-15
17 @Carolina Panthers 82 32-22

The Patriots had the Colts dead to rights on Sunday. And if not for the fourth-down decision heard round the world, Indianapolis might not even be included in this discussion. Instead, Peyton Manning took advantage of New England's turnover on downs and turned it into a 9-0 start.

The toughest part of the Colts' challenge of getting to 16-0 might really be getting to 12-0. And they face their toughest remaining hurdle right away this week as they travel to Baltimore. The Ravens are 5-4 and trying to find themselves after a strong start.

Based on 10,001 simulations of each game left on the NFL schedule (see below), Indianapolis wins 65% of the time by an average of five points.

If the Colts can get by the Ravens, they get another road test at Houston where they win 74% of the time and by just six points. Then they'll host the up-and-coming Tennessee Titans, where they win 75% of the time.

The difficulty of Indianapolis' schedule certainly comes in the next three weeks. If the Colts can survive three more games, they could be in the clear. With the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills on the slate over the final five weeks, the Colts are not projected to lose more than 20% of the time in 10,001 computer simulations against each of those teams.

While that daunting three-week stretch looks brutal, Indianapolis actually has a better chance of going 16-0 than New Orleans, by mere percentage points. The Colts never have lower than a 69% chance to win any of their remaining games individually, but putting a seven-game streak on top of the nine-game roll they've already put together only occurs 22.2% of the time (just slightly more likely than the Saints).

According to our fantasy football projections, Peyton Manning finishes the rest of the season with 1,858 passing yards, 15 TDs and 4 INTs to give him a total of 4,730 yards, 45 TDs and 11 INTs. The team scores 202 points and allows 123 to finish the year averaging 28.4 points a game and giving up 16.6 a contest.

Indianapolis Projected Results in Remaining Games:

Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
11 @Baltimore Ravens 69 25-20
12 @Houston Texans 74 26-20
13 Tennessee Titans 75 28-19
14 Denver Broncos 88 30-15
15 @Jacksonville Jaguars 83 28-19
16 New York Jets 89 34-14
17 @Buffalo Bills 89 31-16

Never have two teams ever gone undefeated in the same season. Don't expect it to happen this season, either. But as with anything, there is a chance.

The Colts and Saints finish a combined 32-0 just 4.88% of the time. With each team having just over a 1 in 5 chance of ending the regular season without a loss, there is about a 1 in 20 chance that both teams do it.

Want to know where these teams rank in NFL history? Try our free NFL SimMatchup tool to play any current team against any team since 1940.

Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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11/19/09   |   Jemstone   |   20 respect

I dont see either team going undefeated, but I can see both teams going to the Super Bowl!!!  Thats all that counts right? Who Dat!!

11/19/09   |   Jemstone   |   20 respect

OoDeviLoO wrote:
IMPOSSIBLE!

dont hate...McClover is looking tough though...

11/19/09   |   marcus_nyce   |   27037 respect

I'm just going to say yes, because all the money is on NO. 20 to 1, not a bad bet based on the percentages. not big money, but maybe 100 bucks. I blow that on BS parlays every weekend as it is... I'm a degenerate, but I admit it.

11/19/09   |   OoDeviLoO   |   15 respect

IMPOSSIBLE!

11/19/09   |   norsteelnation   |   4 respect

ABSOLUTELY NOT
COLTS HAD A LOT OF LUCK AGAINST MIAMI,PATS,TEXANS, SF  THEY WILL LOSSE 2-3
SAINTS HAS TO COME DOWN TO EARTH SOONER THAN ANYBODY IMAGINE

11/18/09   |   emeraldleo72   |   35 respect

I_Bleed_Purple wrote:
I sure hope they both don't make it.  I need the 'Aints to be themselves and start losing.  :)  like how about 2 games, or at least one NFC opponent.  Yeah, that would be good.  I'd like to know what the same stats people say about the Vikes going 15-1 again.  It's not going to happen and neither are either of these teams going to get to 16-0.  It's rare for a reason.

I think seeing Vikes and the Saints in the NFC Championship would be a good game! Im a die hard 49ers fan and relistically my team aint goin, but would like the SB Champs be out of the NFC

11/18/09   |   bjaffe   |   10 respect

no it won't happen. indy needed a trick play to beat the niners and crazy luck to beat the pats that catches up to you. the saints will have a good chance but the falcons rematch  and the cowboys game will be the 2 toughest

11/18/09   |   I_Bleed_Purple   |   415 respect

I sure hope they both don't make it.  I need the 'Aints to be themselves and start losing.  :)  like how about 2 games, or at least one NFC opponent.  Yeah, that would be good.  I'd like to know what the same stats people say about the Vikes going 15-1 again.  It's not going to happen and neither are either of these teams going to get to 16-0.  It's rare for a reason.

11/18/09   |   taker   |   24 respect

this 1 easy. HELL NO!!!!

11/18/09   |   starburse29   |   8 respect

Ah...NO! Neither team will go 16-0! Colts should've lost sunday night but thanks to a early christmas gift from Bill they're still undefeated! Saints will show some signs of the aint and lose at least 2 games!

11/18/09   |   DarkSexy   |   56 respect

This is going to be a good game but the Colts will pull it off because they are a team that work hard to get what they want.  This is going to be the Saints first lost.  Colts will win by 3 points.

11/18/09   |   macblastr   |   59 respect

 dont forget, as they go through the season the target on their backs get bigger and bigger... those losing teams LOVE to knock off undefeated teams.

11/18/09   |   zhum24   |   47 respect

Looking at both of the team's schedules, the Colts have a better chance to go 16-0.

11/18/09   |   ManningsOffense   |   241 respect

I think the Saints are gonna lose to NE and @ ATL.

11/18/09   |   rogercarver1960   |   126 respect

Injuries on the Saints and Colts will doom them to at least one loss each.  If all their key players were healthy then i'd say they could go undefeated.

11/18/09   |   zballa07   |   44 respect

i  think if they met that the colts would win

11/18/09   |   emeraldleo72   |   35 respect

I dont think the Cult's will make it(16-0), The last game was gift wraped and handed to them. If they dominate the whole game, which does'nt seem to happen is their only chance. There's a few teams with  good enough defense to beat them they'll just just have to learn from the mistake coach Billacheck made..Sad moment. As for the Saints if the beat the Pats I would say yes, but I'm thinking their wanting redemption for the cults game. In my opinion I think if Saints win thisgame, it would make them legit to be super bowl contenders. 

11/18/09   |   Kenne   |   15876 respect

mk_donley wrote:
Not going to happen.
Colts fall to the Ravens in week 11
Saints fall to the Pats in week 12.
Enough said.

I can also see the Saints losing in Atlanta by a very close score in week 14.

11/18/09   |   mk_donley   |   2554 respect

Not going to happen.
Colts fall to the Ravens in week 11
Saints fall to the Pats in week 12.
Enough said.

11/18/09   |   zballa07   |   44 respect

the colts i think have been more lucky than good this year. i like manning and i think he's doing good this year but i mean they almost lost to houston, san fran, and they should have lost to the pats. the rest of their schedule looks like it could give them some trouble. but i mean the saints can very well do it if they can get past the pats.

11/18/09   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3307 respect

barmarjeff wrote:
I hope that one of these teams goes undefeated just so Mercury Morris will finally shut up.

Shhhhhh, don't say his name! He wasn't even saying anything for like a year now...

11/18/09   |   Captain_Chaos   |   287 respect

like any true fan of a team, i like to wish it would happen every year.

but i am realistic - i think NO loses to New England - id prefer we lose one in the reg season - then get cocky in the playoffs there.

11/18/09   |   barmarjeff   |   39 respect

I hope that one of these teams goes undefeated just so Mercury Morris will finally shut up.

11/18/09   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3307 respect

100%InjuryRate wrote:
It would certainly be the most awesome Super Bowl ever though. Two 16-0 teams, guaranteed perfection for someone. Which would of course mean we'd have the first tie in Super Bowl history.

Lol, no doubt that if it happened, it would beyond awesome. I just don't see it happening. If not just from the history angle, Saints I don't think will be able to get by New England, Atlanta, and Dallas - and Indy has to lose at some point either against Baltimore next week, Houston, or Jacksonville (all away), or possibly Chris Johnson's Titans at home.

11/18/09   |   100%InjuryRate   |   1283 respect

Chief_aka_James wrote:
In a word, no. There was a reason as to why the Patriots 16-0 regular season was so special two years ago, it's because it was the only time in 29 years. Just like last years 0-16 Lions team, we're just not accustomed to see an entire season of perfection (or imperfection) happen so often, they just both happened to fall under the same time-frame. I doubt another 16-0 season will happen for another 20 years.

It would certainly be the most awesome Super Bowl ever though. Two 16-0 teams, guaranteed perfection for someone. Which would of course mean we'd have the first tie in Super Bowl history.

11/18/09   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3307 respect

In a word, no. There was a reason as to why the Patriots 16-0 regular season was so special two years ago, it's because it was the only time in 29 years. Just like last years 0-16 Lions team, we're just not accustomed to see an entire season of perfection (or imperfection) happen so often, they just both happened to fall under the same time-frame. I doubt another 16-0 season will happen for another 20 years.