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It was another dismal showing for the AFC East division today. Miami showed a spark or two against the improved Browns (their own Ronnie Brown enjoying several productive moments on the day), and the Jets donning their ancient Titans of New York blue and yellow uniforms also made a play or two against the visiting Eagles… but in the end, both lost rather handily.
The Buffalo Bills were resting their weary bodies, glad to not add to the debacle that was AFC East football in week six.
Save for the division leading Patriots, that is.
The Patriots let the Cowboys hang around for a time, even allowing them the first second half lead of the season for any Patriot opponent. But it was very short lived, and New England ran away with the game in the fourth quarter, winning 48-27.
The Patriots are 6-0 atop the AFC East. The Bills are in second place at 1-4. The Jets follow at 1-5 and the Dolphins have yet to break into the win column at 0-6. So far in 2007, the Patriots competition is a combined 2-15. Ouch.
Is the AFC East the worst division in football? Every other division has at least two teams vying for the top spot, with the second biggest margin being two games. The Patriots hold a rather cozy 4.5 game lead in their division race. After only six weeks???
It’s hard to argue that New England is the class of the league right now. They defeated one of only three previously undefeated teams in the NFL on Sunday, and they made it look rather easy.
The Patriots have scored 230 points in six games, which is 138 more than their opponents have scored on them. They have scored no less than 34 points in each game, while the most any other AFC East team has mustered is 31.
Tom Brady has thrown 21 touchdown passes in that span, which is 6 more than the combined total of six other QBs from AFC East teams! (J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Trent Green and Cleo Lemon have a total of 15.)
The Patriots looked good on paper heading into the 2007 season, and they are proving to actually be even more frightening after watching them play just six games so far this year. Providing they can stay healthy, this team will be nearly impossible to beat.
Now with only two remaining undefeated teams, the stage is set for an even more enticing “game of the year” on November 4th. The Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts will host the New England Patriots—just as they did in last year’s AFC championship game—for major bragging rights, and maybe the Patriots only real remaining challenge to a perfect season.
Well, there it was. I said it. It’s only been six weeks, and I’ve brought up the undefeated angle. I’m sure I’m not the first, and I know I won’t be the last. Read on…
Indianapolis faces a tough game next week on the road at division rival Jacksonville. Indy has lost to the Jaguars, and that will certainly be a very difficult opponent. They then play Carolina on the road before coming home to face New England. Both games could be a challenge, but I’d expect Indy to come out on top, and be 7-0 when they face the Patriots.
The Patriots, on the other hand, have a bit of an easier road. Next week they face the winless Miami Dolphins in Miami, and then come home to face the Washington Redskins. Washington iscurrently 3-2, and may pose a bit of a threat to New England (who might be looking ahead to their rematch with Indianapolis) but I would also expect New England to escape unscathed to enter the Indianapolis game at 8-0.
If New England can atone for the loss to the Colts last year, and move on to 9-0, their remaining schedule seems almost too easy. They travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills (whom they have completely dominated winning all but one of the last fifteen or sixteen games), followed by games against Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, NY Jets, Miami, and NY Giants. Four of those are home games, with the only road games being against Baltimore and the Giants. Assuming home field advantage means something, New England has a seemingly easy path to an undefeated season, with six of their wins coming against their own division.
Which brings me back to my original question. Is the AFC East as bad as they seem, or are the Patriots simply that good… making the rest seem vastly inferior by contrast. Maybe it’s a little of both, but my money’s on the Patriots being that good. (Figuratively, of course.) And they even have a few injuries at the moment. They will only get better.
With the state of the AFC East, the 2007 NFL season could see two very rare occurrences, both from the same division. New England has a good chance to go undefeated, while the Miami Dolphins have almost as good a chance of going winless. We’re too early to say that, but it’s quite clear to this writer that while the Patriots may face a challenge or two on their remaining schedule, it will not likely come from within their division.
If the Patriots do complete a perfect season, they can thank their opponents in the AFC L-East for six of those sixteen wins. They don’t appear to be offering much resistance.