I was looking at our schedule for this season, and noticed a few things:
We played every team in the NFC North and AFC North, with much success, if not for the Browns loss we would have swept both of those divisions.
We played and beat the best team out of the AFC west in my opinion, the Chargers.
We played and beat the best team out of the AFC south in my opinion, the Colts.
Then of course we have our division games, which historically have not been a cake-walk. The Bills always give us their best effort, and the Jets are usually a handful (with the exception being the 45-3 shellacking). We've had trouble beating Miami in their house, and now this season they can't beat anybody in their own house.
The conclusion is, we have played a tough schedule, and shown excellent resiliency. If this team was not 12-2 and instead was 5-9, there would be plenty of excuses to go around: The loss of Randy Moss, the injuries, rookies starting in key positions, Brandon Spikes being suspended, the re-designed offensive philosophy, no def. coordinator, etc. This is what I love about the Patriots, we don't make excuses, we just put our helmets on and play ball. We expect when a player is called upon, for that player to perform regardless of what's been going on around us, and usually that happens. This is what makes the Patriots a special team regardless of what happens from here on out.
*It's also worth mentioning that the team that is tied with us for the best record is a team we held joint practices with in training camp and played in the preseason.