New England coach Bill Belichick wants to avoid talk of a perfect season. Indianapolis' Tony Dungy has gotten used to such chatter.
After going 13-0 and 9-0 the last two seasons, Dungy understands just how difficult the trek will be in a league that prides itself on parity.
But if anyone has a chance, Dungy believes it's the Patriots.
``I liken them to when UCLA was playing basketball really well,'' said Dungy, drawing a correlation to his formative years in the 1960s and early 1970s. ``You have to play an almost perfect game to beat them, and when you aren't you're going to make those kinds of errors.''
No NFL team has finished a perfect season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and Dungy never seriously considered the possibility when the Colts were chasing perfection the last two years.
Could it happen now? Maybe, but Dungy believes it's still unlikely.
``I think it's tough to go undefeated in the NFL,'' he said. ``They probably have as good a chance as anyone.''
BREAKING HIS SILENCE: After doing an ESPN interview, Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers broke his usual trend of turning down requests to talk in the locker room this week.
Rogers was even more in demand because of his performance in a rout over Denver that gave the Lions a 6-2 record for the first time since their last playoff appearance in 1999. He scored on a 66-yard interception return, had 2 1/2 sacks and was credited with hitting the quarterback four times.
Rogers won the NFC defensive player of the week award, which means less to him than the rare success Detroit is having as a team.
``Being 6-2 is special,'' he said. ``It is more fun than it has been in a while, to be honest.''
Detroit drafted Rogers in the second round in 2001. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2004 and 2005, then hit some obstacles coming into this season.
Rogers was suspended for four games by the NFL last season for taking a banned substance to help control his weight, and knee surgery kept him off the field even longer.
He found out in July he wouldn't face criminal charges after an exotic dancer claimed he inappropriately touched her.
Now, Rogers is focused on his job and is playing as well as most defensive players in the league.
``Honestly, he can do whatever he wants to do,'' Detroit offensive tackle Jeff Backus said. ``When he's on his game and motivated, he's as good as there is. Athletically to be 6-4, 360 pounds - or whatever he is and move the way he moves it's unbelievable.''
NO GM: The Bengals' 7-14 slide since early last season is putting the spotlight back on their front office.
They have only one winning record since 1990 and are still behind most other NFL teams in some important areas, including scouting and facilities. They also lack a general manager.
Owner Mike Brown has final say on important decisions. During his five seasons in Cincinnati, coach Marvin Lewis has steadfastly defended his boss and insisted that they agree on major matters.
Asked this week whether the team would be better off with a general manager, Lewis refused to even consider the question.
``That's not my thing to worry about,'' Lewis said. ``Beating the Baltimore Ravens ... you want to talk about the Baltimore Ravens this week, I'll talk about them.''
Lewis became a head coaching candidate while he was defensive coordinator in Baltimore, where general manager Ozzie Newsome is in charge of personnel. Ravens coach Brian Billick appreciates Newsome's importance.
``Huge, absolutely instrumental,'' Billick said. ``If not for Ozzie, I wouldn't be here in the first place or even now.''
Billick wouldn't want to be a head coach with general manager responsibilities.
``You'd have to have an incredible staff around you, a staff that you could trust, both their competency and their loyalty, because there is so much of it you're going to have to take their word that something is just a certain way,'' Billick said. ``I'm sure there are guys who have done it well (having both titles). When you see someone who tries to do both, it's basically saying, 'I want the control.' Some feel (it's) important that they have to have it.''
In Cincinnati, the owner still has that control.
REID'S PLIGHT STRIKES GIBBS: Asked about Andy Reid's sons, Joe Gibbs became emotional about his own.
The Washington Redskins coach spoke this week on the difficulties of balancing family problems with football, commiserating with the Philadelphia Eagles coach whose sons have been in legal trouble.
``It's one of the greatest jobs in the world,'' Gibbs said. ``What happens is, it's kind of all-consuming. You're constantly here. What happens with football coaches is they cram every single minute into every day, and you add this and add that and maybe you can add this, and next thing you know, there's nothing left.
``It's extremely hard for anybody going through a personal thing with their family. I know it's hard for me. ... And one of the toughest things is you feel like, 'Did I let somebody down there?'''
Gibbs often sleeps at Redskins Park, as he did during his first stint with the team when his sons were young.
``I know one of the things that I will second-guess is going to be all the time I missed with J.D. and Coy,'' Gibbs said. ``There were pluses - obviously they got to go to (training) camp and things like that - but I missed a lot. I got to see J.D. play maybe five, six times in college.
``I know someday later on I'm certainly not going to say, 'I should've worked more.' I'm going to say, 'I should've been there more.' From that part of it, it's a tough thing to go through.''
Reid said he appreciated Gibbs' words.
``I'm not a very good balancer,'' Reid said. ``But I am holding up, and I appreciate everybody's concern, mostly for the boys in particular.''
AMERICA'S GAME: If the records being set in the NFL this season are of less interest to you than the history of the sport itself, Warner Home Video comes to the rescue with a 40-disc collectors set of the TV series ``America's Game.''
The series by NFL Films was telecast on NFL Network from last November through April. It features 40 hour-long documentaries of each Super Bowl champion, from the Packers in the first AFL-NFL championship game through the 2005 Steelers.
The Colts' victory over Chicago last February is not in the set, although that show aired on Sept. 5 on NFL Network.
Along with footage shot by NFL Films, highlights from team radio broadcasts, news clips and photos, there are extensive interviews with early Super Bowl heroes Bart Starr and Joe Namath to latter day stars Jerome Bettis and Tom Brady.
AP Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Joseph White in Washington, Larry Lage in Detroit and Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this story.

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