In 1985, the Chicago Bears started the season 12-0 before losing at Miami. They wound up shuffling their way to a Super Bowl title without losing another game.
In 1991 the Washington Redskins began 11-0 but lost at Dallas. The 'Skins won the Super Bowl also.
In 1998 the Denver Broncos won their first 13 games. A huge matchup in Miami loomed in the penultimate game on the schedule. But before the Broncos could get to South Florida, the Giants upset them. But Denver won the Super Bowl.
So Kansas City, perfect 8-0 Kansas City, enters the second half of its blessed season with the mixed message of failed perfect-season dreamers before it. Running the table in the NFL isn't likely. But make a real charge at it and good things (like a Lombardi Trophy) tend to happen in the end.
Two teams in NFL history have completed perfect regular seasons – the 1934 Bears and the 1972 Dolphins. Only the Dolphins won the championship to cap a 17-0 campaign, the gold standard of the league.
The Chiefs have a chance. Their schedule unfolds like a dream, a veritable Kansas State non-conference slate at the NFL level.
It starts Sunday when 3-5 Cleveland visits. Then there is a trip to 3-5 Cincinnati, home against 2-6 Oakland and at 1-7 San Diego. A reeling Denver squad, a bad Detroit one and the who-knows Bears await in December.
Only a trip to 6-2 Minnesota on Dec. 20, in what would be the Chiefs' 15th game, stands out as a major test.
The Chiefs' final eight opponents are a combined 25-40 (.385). Take out the Vikings and that mark is 19-38 (.333).
For a team that already has enjoyed the good fortune of all those clutch Dante Hall returns, lost no starters to injury and once won four straight games by seven points or less, this season is starting to look preordained.
Not that Dick Vermeil, the Kansas City chief, is buying into that. He considers Cleveland a major threat.
"You'll say, 'Why do you say they're a good football team?' " Vermeil says. "Well, they've only given up eight touchdowns in eight football games. When the defense is on the field, they've given up eight touchdowns. That's an outstanding performance by any scale."
So don't count on Vermeil overlooking anyone. That's a key. As great as that '72 Dolphins squad was, going undefeated in today's NFL is much more difficult. Not only is the regular season two games longer but also parity rules, turning the old "any given Sunday" adage into reality.
"Like I told the guys, there's always going to be speculation and thought and innuendo. You can anticipate a letdown," Vermeil says. "We know it's happening. It's human nature ... and the odds are against you. But we don't line up and play against the odds."
Then there is the reality of what really is important. Vermeil is focused on winning his second Super Bowl, not going 16-0 and then fading in the playoffs. Once home-field advantage is secure, it is difficult to justify playing your stars in meaningless end-of-the-season games.
How many wins does Vermeil think K.C. needs to secure home field in the AFC?
"Sixteen," he says. "I'm serious. I don't think you can start thinking it's all right to lose two or three and you can get everything."
Everything is the Super Bowl, not the perfect season. But the last eight teams to start 8-0 reached the big game. And halfway to an unblemished season, with a downhill schedule in front, why not dare to dream? It would be an upset if Kansas City isn't 12-0 heading into December.
- Dick Vermeil
- Super Bowl