The streaking Patriots

It’s easier to lose seven straight games in the NFL than it is to win seven straight. If you doubt this, click on these two links. You’ll see there have been 52 regular-season winning streaks of seven games or longer in the 2000s — and 69 losing streaks of the same length.

Indeed, the Bucs, now in their 39th year, have never reeled off seven victories in a row, not even the season they won the Super Bowl. The Browns, meanwhile, haven’t had a seven-gamer since ’68, and the Bengals (‘73) and Cardinals (’74) haven’t put one together in nearly as long.

I point this out because the Patriots are on their annual seven-game roll. Well, maybe not annual, but they’ve certainly been Frequent Streakers in the Belichick-Brady Era. This is their seventh run of seven games or more; a couple of times, they didn’t stop until they reached 21 and 18.

The only other team in the 2000s that’s had more than four such streaks is Peyton Manning’s team. Manning had five with the Colts, and has added a sixth — a 17-gamer — with the Broncos.

A look at the Patriots’ streaks (which become even more impressive when you realize that no other club in the AFC East has had even one in the 2000s):

PATRIOTS’ REGULAR-SEASON WINNING STREAKS OF 7 OR MORE SINCE 2000

Games Years Result Broken By, Score
21 2006-08 Lost Super Bowl in ’07 Dolphins, 38-13
18 2003-04 Won Super Bowl in ’03 & ’04 Steelers, 34-20
10 2010-11 Lost first playoff game in ’10 Bills, 34-31
9 2011-12 Lost Super Bowl in ’11 Cardinals, 20-18
9 2001-02 Won Super Bowl in ’01 Chargers, 21-14
7 2012 Lost AFC title game 49ers, 41-34
7 2014 TBD TBD

The rest of the league: Colts (5 streaks of seven or better), Packers (4), Chargers (3), Seahawks (3), Vikings (3), Bears (2), Chiefs (2), Eagles (2), Falcons (2), 49ers (2), Panthers (2), Rams (2), Saints (2), Steelers (2), Titans (2), Broncos (1), Cowboys (1), Giants (1), Lions (1), Ravens (1), Redskins (1), Texans (1).

Teams that haven’t had a seven-game streak in the 2000s: Bengals, Bills, Browns, Bucs, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jaguars, Jets, Raiders.

How do the Patriots stack up against other teams over the decades led by Hall of Fame quarterbacks? Pretty favorably — keeping in mind, of course, that Brady is in his 13th full season as a starter (Roger Staubach was the Cowboys’ QB of record for just nine) and that schedules are now 16 games (Sid Luckman never played more than 12).

MOST WINNING STREAKS OF 7 GAMES OR MORE, REGULAR SEASON

Years Quarterback, Team 7+ Streaks
2001-14 Tom Brady’s Patriots            7
1999-10 Peyton Manning’s Colts            6
1980-90 Joe Montana’s 49ers            6
1946-55 Otto Graham’s Browns            6*
1992-07 Brett Favre’s Packers            4
1991-99 Steve Young’s 49ers            4
1983-98 John Elway’s Broncos            4
1970-82 Terry Bradshaw’s Steelers            4
1971-79 Roger Staubach’s Cowboys            4
1967-80 Bob Griese’s Dolphins            4
1956-72 Johnny Unitas’ Colts            4
1939-50 Sid Luckman’s Bears            4

*Includes years in the All-America Conference (1946-49).

Note: “Years” denotes the span of seasons the quarterback was the team’s starter. Obviously, a QB didn’t get credit for a streak unless he started all or virtually all of the games. (Backup Earl Morrall, for instance, filled in for the injured Unitas when the Colts won eight straight in ’68 – and did likewise for Griese when the Dolphins went undefeated in ’72.)

In case you were wondering, Bart Starr’s Packers had a mere two runs of seven games or longer during the Lombardi years (1959-67) — which just shows how much more competitive the NFL was back then. We’re talking, after all, about arguably the greatest dynasty in pro football history.

Source: pro-football-reference.com