The talk of a team going undefeated or winless over an NFL season starts earlier every year.
With Denver off to a great start and Jacksonville doing the opposite, the Broncos and Jaguars are getting significant 16-0/0-16 buzz already. That the two are playing this week, and produced the highest NFL point spread ever recorded at 28 points, has added to that talk.
How much of a mismatch is Sunday's game? William Hill U.S., which operates a number of sports books in Nevada, thinks there is little chance that Jacksonville will lead the game at any point on Sunday. Jacksonville never holding a lead has huge odds of -320 (bet $3.20 to win $1), and the Jaguars having a lead at any point is a big underdog at +260 odds (bet $1 to win $2.60).
So these teams are great/horrendous, so that means they're on their way to 16-0 or 0-16, right? Likely not.
William Hill U.S. has also posted odds on the Broncos going 16-0 and the Jaguars going 0-16, and both are fairly long shots:
Will Denver go undefeated (16-0) in the 2013 regular season?
YES: +450 (Bet $1 to win $4.50)
NO: -600 (Bet $6 to win $1)
Will Jacksonville go winless (0-16) in the 2013 regular season?
YES: +700 (Bet $1 to win $7)
NO: -1000 (Bet $10 to win $1)
The reason you'd get paid 7-to-1 on the Jaguars going 0-16 or 4.5-to-1 on the Broncos going 16-0 is it almost never happens and they each have 11 games to go. There has been one 16-0 regular-season team (2007 Patriots) and one 0-16 team (2008 Lions) in NFL history. It's almost impossible to run the table, or whatever the 0-16 equivalent of that is (fall off the table?).
The Broncos have to play tough games at the Colts, Chargers, Patriots and Chiefs, not to mention Week 16 and 17 games at Houston and Oakland – and if they're still undefeated by then they'd likely have the AFC's top seed clinched and might rest players.
It's harder to pick out the game the Jaguars will win, although Arizona and Buffalo come to Jacksonville this season. Perhaps they can keep their two games against Tennessee close and steal one at the end.
But chances are it'll happen for both teams at some point. The Broncos will have an off day and lose. It almost happened at Dallas last week. Jacksonville will shock someone and get its win. Just don't expect both things to happen on Sunday in Denver.