Friday 18 August 2017 / 08:40 PM

Six undefeated teams – who are the contenders?

In a league known for parity across the board, it’s kind of surprising to see six different clubs entering the sixth week of the campaign without a tick in the loss column while a whopping 20 teams are sitting below the .500 mark.

Has the balance of power truly shifted out of whack or are a few of these teams outplaying their talent level?

Let’s break down each undefeated club and find out.

New England Patriots

It’s rare to see a team win the Super Bowl and then actually get better the following season.

Enter Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Out of all the undefeated clubs, this is the only one that has yet to be truly challenged. Week after week they have outclassed opponents en route to the NFL’s top offense at 423.8 yards per game.

Tom Brady is playing lights-out football at the helm with an impressive 121.5 rating and 11 touchdown passes without a single INT. The Old Man has even run one in on the ground.

Brady’s main target, Rob Gronkowksi is proving to be as un-defendable as ever. He’s averaging 5 catches and 1 touchdown per game with a whopping 18.8 yards per catch.

Following the Pats’ 30-6 shellacking of the Cowboys, one Dallas assistant coach admitted that they “had no idea how to cover Gronkowksi.”

While the team is looking to shed comparisons to the legendary 2007 squad, New England just set a team record with 149 points over the first four games of the season…one better than the Brady-Moss show of yore.

Until further notice the Pats are huge favorites to be the second straight Super Bowl Champ to return to the big game.

Oh, and before I forget – make sure you Retweet to enter to win a signed photograph of Mr. Handsome.

Denver Broncos

In our weekly Airing it Out column we touched base on the now indisputable decline of Peyton Manning.

But – at (5-0) we can’t fling too much shit at the AFC West-dominating Broncos.

Many a club has brought home the Lombardi with a crushing defense and passable offense, so why is it such a crime for Denver to do the same just because they’ve got #18 under center?

In short, it’s not.

This is the defense John Elway wanted to build after his record-setting offense was embarrassed in Super Bowl XLVIII by the Seattle Seahawks.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

Denver boasts the top-ranked defense in the league (278.0 YPG) and is second in scoring defense at just 15.8 points allowed per contest.

Don’t be surprised to see the NFL’s top O against the top D line up in this season’s AFC Championship.

Cincinnati Bengals

Unless, of course, the Bengals dispose of those Broncos first.

We all love to make fun of Andy Dalton, but he’s having an MVP-type season thus far and other than a history of flopping in the playoffs he’s actually one of the more successful young quarterbacks of all time, leading his team to the postseason every single year of his career.

Here are a few reasons Cincy fans can believe 2015 might just be different come January:

-Dalton is one of three QBs in NFL history to throw for over 1500 yards and have a TD-INT ratio better than 5:1 through their teams’ first five games. The other two? Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

-Dalton has led his team to an opening drive touchdown in 4 of their 5 games.

-He’s gaining confidence. The “It Factor”-type poise he showed in last Sunday’s come-from-behind victory is the stuff that separates regular-season quarterbacks from postseason legends.

The Bengals boast the league’s No.2 offense with a hair over 421 yards per game and a formidable defense to match, despite the team sliding “statistically” down the rankings.

We’d still like to see this club actually win a playoff game before truly sliding them into the upper echelon, but all signs point towards a deep postseason run at the end of this season.

Green Bay Packers

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. The (5-0) Packers are exactly as good as their record indicates and Aaron Rodgers doesn’t seem to miss Jordy Nelson one iota.

And to go along with their incredible offensive acumen, Clay Matthews has said this is, “The best defense I’ve been on since I’ve been with Green Bay.”

No offense to Atlanta and Carolina, but the road to Super Bowl 50 clearly goes through Lambeau Field.

Atlanta Falcons

This is where things get a little more dicey.

The Falcons boast the No.4 offense in the NFL and one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game in Julio Jones – but they have yet to win a game against a team that currently has a winning record.

But the reason I like this undefeated NFC South club leaps and bounds better than the other one is Devonta Freeman.

Freeman has quietly put up the second-most rushing yards in the league (405) while adding another 240 through the air.

The second year back is absolutely dominating the NFL in rushing scores with 8, three better than the No.2 guy, Jeremy Hill.

Nothing spells disaster for opposing defenses more than a balanced attack and the Falcons are perhaps the most balanced offensive club outside of Cincinnati.

And while their pass defense is near the bottom of the league (29th), Atlanta is No.1 against the rush at just 78.4 yards allowed on the ground per game.

Carolina Panthers

No offense to Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly, but out of all the undefeated teams this is the one I trust the least.

Wins against the Jaguars, Saints, Buccaneers and Texans means their overall opponents’ record is a dismal (5-15).

Now, you can’t control who you play against – and undefeated is undefeated in the NFL – but let’s see if Carolina can roll into Seattle and knock off the reeling Seahawks before believing the Panthers are a legitimate threat.

Following their trip to Seattle, Carolina takes on the Eagles, Colts and Packers at home. This four-game stretch will likely define the Panthers’ season moving forward.

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Michael Airhart

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