The last team to make a serious run at a perfect season was the 1985-86 Chicago Bears. Behind a stellar defense, the coaching of Mike Ditka, and the rushing of Walter Payton, the Bears won the first 12 games of the season. They next faced the Dolphins, in a Monday night contest in Miami. Quarterback Dan Marino led the Dolphins to a 38-24 pasting of the Bears, much to the delight of the Miami fans (and the 1972 team, many of whom were in attendance). The Bears went on to destroy New England in the Super Bowl, but lost their chance at an unbeaten season.
Should the Broncos escape from New York unscathed, their next opponent will be, ironically, the Dolphins... in Miami, on Monday night. Denver finishes off the regular season at home against Seattle, but it's Miami —with Marino, one of the top defenses in the league, and the ghosts of the '72 team— that has the best chance to spoil Denver's party.
"If there's any way to hex them, I think we should do it," says Larry Csonka, running back for the '72 team. "Aside from wishing them no serious injuries, I really wouldn't mind if they got a mild case of food poisoning."