The Cincinnati Bengals are 8-0 through the first nine weeks of the NFL regular season.
While it may seem crazy, people have obviously started talking about the possibility of a 16-0 season. That's the case anytime a team is unbeaten halfway through their season. Technically, the halfway point hasn't been reached though if you count the 3-4 playoff games that the Bengals hope to be playing in.
In fact, an undefeated postseason is the main focus of this Bengals club, not going 16-0 in the regular season, as safety George Iloka told ESPN's Coley Harvey.
"What's 16-0 if you go 0-1 when it matters?" Iloka said. "A perfect season is not really one of the goals we set in the offseason. The perfect postseason is what we set out for."
That is also something far from the mind of offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who is more concerned about winning against the Houston Texans next Monday.
"What we can look at is going 9-0. That's the only thing we can focus on," Whitworth said. "If that's as good as we can be that week, then that should be the only thing we're worried about. Can we beat the team we're playing that week? What does it take that week?"
Whitworth and most of his Bengals teammates have never tasted success in the postseason, which is fueling their hunger to keep winning and improving upon the team's best start in franchise history.
"We’ve got enough guys that are hungry and in the phase of their career where this is a big year for them, that I don't think anybody is relaxing," Whitworth said.
While the Bengals are wise to not talk about going 16-0 just midway through the season, it's no longer out of the realm of possibility that this is a feat they're able to achieve. It's still unlikely to happen, though only three teams left on the Bengals' schedule have a winning record. The other five teams are a combined 14-28, and three of them come to Cincinnati. At the Browns will be a little tricky, but an undermanned Bengals team in 2014 did go into Cleveland and walk away with a 30-0 win.
I'm no expert when it comes to odds, but looking at the rest of the Bengals' schedule, I see only two games in which they should be expected to be underdogs, at Arizona and at Denver. And, even that Sunday Night Football matchup with the Cardinals could be a pick 'em game.
We've already seen how much Peyton Manning's play has dropped off in the months of December and January, especially late in his career. He's already playing well below his standards this year, so who knows what he and that offense will be able to do in Week 16.
16-0 is an unlikely feat for a Bengals team that, while among the best teams in franchise history, still has shown clear flaws at times that could end up costing them a game or two during their final eight games of the season. However, we've now gotten to a point where 16-0 is not impossible, and even saying that is rare for any team this late in a season, or ever.