Whooah we're halfway there.
No 'O', Livin' on a prayer.
Spray Brady's hand, they'll make it --- I swear
Six and two, Livin' on a prayer
Can't help it this time of year. That song always pops into my head at the midpoint of the regular season. Crazy that the Patriots are already eight games in, and crazier still the type of season they've had to get there.
The rankings experts have them settled around the 7-10 range, which sounds about right. New England's 6-2 record commands some respect, while the injuries to key players and uncertainties surrounding the productivity of the offense weighs too heavy for the analysts to jump with both feet on the bandwagon. Understandable.
The fans have been caught off guard too. But it's hard to stay too angry at a team that is winning, even if it's not pretty or it's without he same offensive attack we've been used to the past few years.
My new strategy for the second half is to just watch the games and enjoy them (or not if it's like the first two quarters against Miami) as each quarter unfolds. One thing I do expect is for the team to keep fighting, even when they're down two scores and seem to be stuck in neutral. Can't help it. They've been growing on me.
Week 9 AFC Rundown:
New England (6-2) vs. Pittsburgh (2-5)
Miami (3-4) vs. Cincinnati (6-2)
NY Jets (4-3) vs. New Orleans (6-1)
Buffalo (3-5) vs. Kansas City (8-0)
Tennessee (3-4) at St. Louis (3-5)
Indianapolis (5-2) at Houston (2-5)
San Diego (4-3) at Washington (2-5)
Baltimore (3-4) at Cleveland (3-5)
Oakland (3-4) vs. Philadelphia (3-5)
Joe Fortenbaugh (Nat'l Football Post) ranks them 7th.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 8th: While it wasn't the prettiest of victories, the Patriots toughed it out against the Dolphins on Sunday. We couldn't help but notice this statistical oddity: Tom Brady had 22 pass attempts while New England rushed 37 times as a team. Given the injuries on the defense, Brady's "non-injured" injured hand and the youthful, fragile nature of the receiving corps, we might see more games like that from the Pats.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 8th: They found a way against the Dolphins, but that offense is a concern. When does Tom Brady snap out of it?
Hank Gola (NY Daily News) ranks them 8th: Back in control of the AFC East.
ESPN experts rank them 9th: The Patriots' leading receiver over the past three games is not Gronk, Edelman or Amendola. Aaron Dobson has a team-high 13 catches and 157 yards in that span.
Brian Billick (Fox Sports) ranks them 9th: Tom Brady had season-lows in both completions and yards and posted a passer rating under 75 for the fourth straight game, but good teams find a way to win.
Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk) ranks them 9th: Tom Brady’s hand isn’t swollen. The rest of his body is shrunken.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 9th: Given their massive injury pileup on defense and limited passing pop around Tom Brady on offense, New England has scrapped its old style points for gritty victories that include forcing key takeaways and leaning more on the run. See the Miami comeback. Everyone is waiting for Brady to look like Brady with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola back in the lineup. Once we see the Patriots Way looking a little more like 2012 form, watch out. Every week is a bit of an adventure for the Patriots, regardless of their opponent. Facing tough defensive matchups ahead, they need to settle for narrow winning margins.
Chris Burke (SI) ranks them 9th: Movie: The Evil Dead. IMDB plot summary: "Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons." Why it fits: Anonymous demons from out of nowhere? Sounds perfect for this rag-tag group.
Rick Drummond (Pro Football Focus) ranks them 9th: Another ugly win keeps the Patriots atop the East and in the Top 10, but they’re still looking for that statement game that shows them as a real danger. If their recent rankings trend of hold-fall-hold-fall continues it’ll be on the back of a down effort against Pittsburgh in Week 9.
Peter King (MMQB.SI) ranks them 9th: So flawed. So hard to read. So hard to think this is an impact team in January—but the defense, even without Wilfork/Mayo/Talib, is a competitive group with players like Logan Ryan who don’t know they’re not supposed to be making game-deciding plays.
Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports) ranks them 9th: Tom Brady's hand looks bad. I still think the coaching staff can get the most out of this team, and Brady will gut it out, but it's getting thin for New England.
The AP Pro32 ranks them 9th.
Andy Hart (Patriots Football Weekly) ranks them 9th.
Pat Kirwan (CBS Sports) ranks them 9th: The Patriots offense is not as impressive as it has been in years past, but they still win (6-2). I have some concern about how often Tom Brady has been sacked in the last month (16 in four games).
Ryan Van Bibber (SB Nation) ranks them 10th: How on Earth is this Patriots squad 6-2? Five of their victories have come by a combined 15 points, but wins are wins and their mark is a good bet to hold up in yet another failtastic edition of the AFC East. Maybe a few weeks with Amendola and Gronk will replace Old Brady with the Brady of Old, but right now the Pats' pass game is too discombobulated to hang with the big boys.
USA Today ranks them 10th: Tom Brady's meat hammer of a throwing hand was good for only 116 yards. The D' was key.
AVERAGE RANK: 8.8 (-0.2)