The NFL's decision to postpone the Steelers-Titans game -- initially slated to take place in Week 4 -- has led to a historic Week 7 meeting between the two AFC squads. For just the sixth time since the AFL-NFL merger, two undefeated teams with at least five wins will play each other. The Titans, a year after their improbable AFC title game run, are 5-0 after edging the Texans in overtime last Sunday. The Steelers, who were actually ahead of the Titans in the race for the AFC's final playoff spot before fading late in the 2019 season, are also 5-0 after putting together a dominating 38-7 Week 6 win over the Browns.
While there is still a lot of football left to be played, whoever wins Sunday's game will have some pretty significant history on their side. The five previous teams that won their matchup of undefeated squads with five-plus wins ended up representing their conference in the Super Bowl. Twice, the winner of that game went onto hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Here is a look at happened the previous five times teams two undefeated teams this late in the season faced off against one another.
One of the NFL's best rivalries during the 1970s, the Vikings and Rams each had 6-0 records entering their Week 7 showdown during the 1973 season. While the Vikings jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, the Rams responded with three unanswered field goals to make it a 10-9 game late with less than a quarter remaining. But after moving the ball into Vikings territory, Rams quarterback John Hadl was sacked by linebacker Jeff Siemon. The sack knocked the Rams out of field goal range, as the Vikings eked out a one-point win. While the Rams would go on to win their first of seven consecutive division titles, the Vikings, led by quarterback Fran Tarkenton, running back Chuck Foreman and Minnesota's famed Purple People Eater defense (led by defensive tackle Alan Page) would go on to represent the NFC in Super Bowl VIII, where they were defeated by Don Shula's defending champion Dolphins, 24-7.
Get used to seeing the Patriots on this list. After winning their first Super Bowl in 2001, Bill Belichick's team missed the playoffs in 2002 and were sitting at .500 four games into the 2003 season. After that, the Patriots became the Patriots, as New England would win 20 consecutive games that included the franchise's second Super Bowl win in three years. New England's streak remained intact well into the 2004 season, as the 5-0 Patriots welcomed the 5-0 Jets to Foxborough for a Week 7 showdown.
While Herman Edwards' Jets put up a good fight, the Patriots were able to hold on for a 13-7 win. After falling behind following New York quarterback Chad Pennington's second quarter touchdown run, the Patriots got the lead just before halftime on Tom Brady's seven-yard touchdown pass to David Patton. The score was still 13-7 when Pennington drove the Jets into Patriots territory on New York's final offensive possession. The drive ultimately ended on the Patriots' 30-yard-line, as New England safety Rodney Harrison broke up Pennington's fourth-down pass intended for Wayne Chrebet. While their offense was held in check by the Jets' defense, the Patriots' defense held Curtis Martin, the NFL's rushing champion that season, to just 70 yards on 20 carries.
The Patriots' streak -- which reached 21 games following their win over the Jets -- ended the following week against the Steelers and rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh, which won a then-conference record 15 wins during the regular season, defeated the Jets in overtime in the divisional round of the playoffs before falling to the Patriots in the AFC title game. The Patriots would then defeat the Eagles to join the '90s Cowboys as the only teams to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span.
2007: Patriots vs. Cowboys
After becoming the Cowboys' starting quarterback midway through the 2006 season, Tony Romo got off to a hot start in 2007, leading Dallas to a 5-0 start on the strength of an offense that averaged 35.2 points per game during that span. And while the Cowboys' offense was loaded with talent (Romo was complemented by Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens, future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten, and Pro Bowl running back Marion Barber III), they were unable to keep pace with the Patriots' offense, a unit led by Brady (who won his first of three MVP awards that season) and Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss.
In Week 6 of the 2007 season, a Texas Stadium crowd of nearly 64,000 fans was treated to a high-scoring affair that included 75 points, eight touchdowns and five touchdown passes from Brady. Moss (who that season caught an NFL record 23 touchdown passes) caught the game's first touchdown, a six-yard pass from Brady. Wes Welker's second touchdown reception gave New England a 21-10 lead before Owens' 12-yard touchdown catch just before halftime cut Dallas' deficit to 21-17. After the Cowboys took their first lead on Romo's touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton, the Patriots scored 27 of the game's final 30 points that included a 69-yard touchdown pass from Brady to receiver Donte' Stallworth, stretching Dallas' lead to 14 points.
While New England was en route to an historic season, Dallas would lose just two more games during the regular season before being upset by Eli Manning and the Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs.
2007: Patriots vs. Colts
Fresh off of their first Super Bowl victory since moving to Indianapolis, the Colts won their first seven games of the 2007 season. In Week 9, Indianapolis hosted the 8-0 Patriots in a rematch of the previous year's AFC title game, which the Colts won in dramatic fashion after overcoming an 18-point deficit. This time around, it was the Colts who jumped out to a double-digit lead. Following Randy Moss' second-quarter touchdown reception from Brady, the Colts took a 20-10 fourth quarter lead following two touchdowns by Peyton Manning that included Manning's 73-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Addai just before halftime.
Brady, who won his first of three MVP awards that season, responded with a three-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker and a seven-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Faulk with 3:15 left. Shortly after Faulk's score, Manning quickly completed a 24-yard pass to Reggie Wayne to get the Colts near midfield. The drive stalled there, however, as a sack/forced fumble by defensive end Jarvis Green (that was recovered by linebacker Rosevelt Colvin) gave the ball back to the Patriots' offense. Three plays after Green's heads-up play, Brady's 10-yard completion to Welker sealed the Patriots' 24-20 win.
New England would not lose a single regular season game in 2007, becoming the first team to go undefeated since the NFL expanded the regular season from 14 to 16 games in 1978. The Patriots would not get their happy ending, however, as they were shocked by the Giants in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
Fittingly, the 6-0 Broncos chose their Sunday night matchup against the 6-0 Packers to honor the 1997 Broncos, who captured the Broncos' first Super Bowl title after upsetting the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Denver's offense, perhaps inspired by the '97 team (which was led by Hall of Famers John Elway, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe), gained a whopping 500 total yards in a 29-10 whipping of the Packers. Denver rushed for 160 yards (101 of those from C.J. Anderson) and three touchdowns, while Peyton Manning, in his final NFL season, threw for 340 yards while completing 72.4% of his passes. Manning's favorite target that night was Demaryius Thomas, who caught eight of 11 targets for 168 yards.
Denver's defense, which finished the season fourth in the NFL in points allowed, first against the pass and third against the run, held Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the league's reigning MVP, to just 77 yards passing. All told, the Broncos' formidable defense held the Packers to just 14 first downs, 140 total yards and 2-of-8 on third down.
While the Packers would rebound before falling to the Cardinals in overtime in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs, the Broncos, despite a mid-season injury to Manning, secured the AFC's No. 1 seed heading into the postseason before defeating Pittsburgh and New England to capture the franchise's second conference title in three years. Against the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, Von Miller turned in a dominant performance, recording six tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in Denver's 24-10 victory. Miller was named the game's MVP, while Manning became the first starting quarterback in history to win Super Bowls with two different franchises.