So, it’s the Patriots bye week. The Jamie Collins trade took precedent and was the big story of the week as the Patriots prepare for their Super Bowl rematch against the Seattle Seahawks on November 13th. The other story this week was that Patriots have clinched the #1 seed in the AFC and have already punched their ticket to the Super Bowl. That’s right. There’s no need to play the final eight games. It’s over. Who’s going to beat them? The Raiders? The Steelers? The Bills? The Patriots are clearly the best team in the AFC and no one can stop them.
Not so fast! Do the fans in Patriots Nation remember what the story was after the Patriots 10-0 start last year? Yep. Same story. #1 seed clinched and it was over. Guess what happened. They lost four of their final six games and limped to the finish line. The Patriots just needed to win one of their last two games against the Jets and Dolphins to get the #1 seed. It didn’t go as planned. The Broncos overtook them as not only the #1 seed, but also were the best team in the NFL as they went on a Super Bowl run.
Are the Patriots the best team in the AFC right now? Absolutely! No one can deny that. Tom Brady is at the top of his game. Gronk looks like Gronk. That Pats offense looks as good as it ever has. The defense? Good, but not great. Good enough to win a Super Bowl? It could be with this offense. With all of that said, a lot can change over the course of eight weeks and the reality is that it’s actually likely that a lot will change.
For one, the Patriots are very healthy right now. Sure, the Dion Lewis injury still lingers, but the team hasn’t skipped a beat with LaGarrette Blount and James White leading the way. Lewis will bring another dimension to the offense when he returns which could come as early as the Seattle game next week. The Patriots have a couple of key players who are injury prone in Gronkowski and Julien Edelman. Will they get through the entire season healthy? It’s not a question that has the same confidence as the topic being discussed in this post.
Aside from injuries potentially changing the season of the Patriots or any team for that matter, it’s also a strong possibility that there will be some teams emerging teams in the AFC. Does anyone really think that the Oakland Raiders are going to end up as the #2 seed in the AFC? It’s certainly possible, but it’s more likely that a more elite team emerges. Like who, you ask? Well, how about the Denver Broncos? They’re still the defending Super Bowl champs and they have arguably the best defense in the NFL. And, guess, what? Heading into tonight’s game against the Raiders, they’re just one game behind the Patriots. One. They also play the Pats at home later in the year. If Denver was to win that game, they would win the tiebreaker over the Patriots.
So, how exactly is this thing over? Hold the phone, folks. There’s a lot of football to played here. Bill Belichick and the Patriots certainly aren’t taking the same approach as the majority in Patriots Nation recently.
Pats – Seahawks Sunday Night. A win gets the Pats one step closer to the #1 seed. A loss may change the tune in Boston.