We’re midpoint in the NFL season and it’s a good time assess where the New England Patriots (5-3) stand in relationship to the rest of the division and the playoffs. The Pats are certainly on an upswing having annihilated the Rams 45-7 in London yesterday and slipping by the New York Jets the week before in OT. Overall fans should be happy. Let’s consider the competition.
The Jets (3-5) are just where I thought they would be. QB Mark Sanchez is performing terribly and fans are calling for Tim Tebow to step up. You could see this coming from as far away as this summer. The Jets can put a game together but they have very little to offer when it comes to consistent play and scoring. The Pats barely beat them a week ago. Next tome they will destroy them. I think the Jets will once again be out of the postseason with a losing record and in last place. (They keep getting worse under coach Ryan. Anybody notice that?)
The Patriots also ably handled the Buffalo Bills (3-4) a bunch of weeks ago. The Bills continue to be hapless. They field a very weak defense and an offense that can score against lesser teams but not against good ones. They will finish third in the AFC East.
The Fins (4-3) are a tad scary but just a tad. They hammered the Jets this week 30-9. They beat St. Louis and Cincinnati by 3 and lost to Arizona by 3 in OT. They played the jets in week two and lost to them by 3. The first week they beat Oakland 35-13. They won’t play New England until week 13 and then they travel to Foxborough to play the Pats in the final week of the season in late December. The point is the Dolphins are in second in the AFC East and if they can keep close to the Pats, they could contend for first. But I do think the Pats will edge them out.
The Pats have lost three games but all were very close. They’re playing a lot better right now but their secondary is still uneven. That’s the key for this team. They can score points; we’ve seen that and they can do it in numerous ways. But the guys on D and especially those playing the pass must be focused and committed to every play for the full 60 minutes.
The two biggest worries for New England in the playoffs will be the Ravens and Texans. They have a tough time against teams that can keep up with them on offense or that can make key defensive plays. Will the Patriots be Super Bowl bound? There’s a good chance.