After today’s 35-17 win over the Bengals, the Patriots now begin a three game stretch in the schedule that will give us a better idea of where they stand amongst elite teams. Sure. The Patriots 5-1 start has been great. However, their competition has not been very good. In fact, the Patriots first six opponents have a combined record of 13-21. That’s a .382 winning percentage. Granted, the Patriots played four of those games without Tom Brady and a 3-1 start was impressive. However, is anyone really surprised that the Pats blew out the 0-6 Browns and the 2-4 Bengals with Brady? For most fans, it was fun to see Brady back, but these games did not tell us much amount this team’s ability to match up against elite teams. That all starts next week.
We just shared the numbers for the records of the Patriots first six opponents. In their next three games the Pats face the Steelers and Bills on the road and the Seahawks at home. The combined records of these teams is 11-5. Much tougher competition and three teams who are playing very well with, perhaps, the exception of the Steelers after their loss to Miami today. The Pats are going to have their hands full starting next week. The Steelers are going to look to rebound from that loss and the Patriots are going to have their hands full with Ben Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell, and Antonio Brown.
The Bills are playing against the Dolphins next week. If they win, regardless of what happens in the Patriots – Steelers game, the Bill – Pats game in Week 8 in Buffalo will be for the AFC East lead. If the Bills were to win, they would hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots. This is what made the Patriots loss to the Bills in Week 4 so big. You can bet that the week leading up to this game will be a lot of fun. Rex Ryan will be making his comments about the Pats and this time it will be a little bit different as the game will actually mean a lot.
After the bye week in Week 9, the Patriots will face the Seahawks at Gillette Stadium on Sunday Night Football. The long awaited rematch after Super Bowl 49 will be a good opportunity for the Patriots to show that they are the elite team in the league. The Seahawks continue to be one of the league’s best teams and are solid on both sides of the ball.
5-1 is a great start. However, the reality is that we haven’t really learned how good the Patriots are just yet. Over the course of the next month, we’ll have a much better idea of how far this team can go in January.