NFL Week 6 Could See a Scenario That Has Happened Only Twice in 50 Years

A historic milestone is within reach in Week 6 of the NFL season, which could become only the third in half a century to feature four unbeaten teams at this stage of the campaign. With a quarter of the 2020 season in the history books, the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers are the only teams still to lose a game.

The Seahawks, who are on a bye this week, are the only member of the quartet to have played five games. The Packers had their bye last week, while the Titans and the Steelers have both played four games each as their Week 4 matchup was postponed to Week 7 after several Tennessee players and personnel members tested positive for coronavirus.

Should Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Tennessee win this weekend, it would be only the third time since the 1970 merger that created the modern NFL that at least four teams have been undefeated through the first six weeks of the season.

Four teams were technically unbeaten through Week 11 of the 1982 season, but only as Weeks 3 to 10 were canceled following a 57-day lockdown that began as players went on strike after the second week of the season.

In 2009, the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings both jumped off the blocks to a 6-0 start, while the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts were 5-0 after six weeks—the Saints had a bye in Week 5, followed by the Colts a week later.

In 2015, the Broncos were again 6-0 at the same stage of the season, along with the Packers and the Cincinnati Bengals, while the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers both sat at 5-0 after their respective byes in Week 4 and Week 5.

Of the Titans, Packers and Steelers trio, Tennessee is the only team facing an opponent with a losing record this week, as it welcomes AFC South rivals Houston Texans, who snapped a four-game losing streak last week.

Like Tennessee, Pittsburgh also plays at home this week and, like Tennessee, it also hosts a divisional rival, with the Cleveland Browns traveling to the Steel City on Sunday. The Browns are on a four-game winning streak but have not won on the road against the Steelers in 17 years.

The Packers, meanwhile, travel to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady cross paths for only the third time in their careers, despite having played a combined 37 seasons and 357 regular season games in the NFL.

Unsurprisingly, teams that are unbeaten through six weeks of the season have historically gone on to reach the playoffs.

In 2009, the Colts clinched the top seed in the AFC after finishing with a league-best 14-2 record, while the Saints and the Vikings took the first two spots in the NFC with 13-3 and 12-4 records respectively. New Orleans defeated Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game, before securing a maiden Vince Lombardi Trophy after beating the Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV.

The Broncos were a notable difference, finishing with an 8-8 record. Denver lost four straight games after the bye in Week 7 and missed the playoffs after finishing the season on a four-game losing run.

Denver atoned for its meltdown in style six years later, defeating the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50. After winning the first six games of the season, the Broncos went on to finish with a 12-4 record and clinched top seed in the AFC, ahead of New England and Cincinnati, who finished with an identical record after being an undefeated through Week 6.

The Panthers, who like the Patriots sat at 5-0 after six weeks, romped to a league-best 15-1 record and top spot in the NFC, while the Packers finished with a 10-6 record and secured a wild-card berth.

Kalif Raymond, Tennessee Titans
Kalif Raymond #14 and A.J. Brown #11 of the Tennessee Titans celebrate after Brown scored a touchdown in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Nissan Stadium on October 13 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans won 42-16 to improve to 4-0. Frederick Breedon/Getty