Who thought that this could happen? The Patriots, owners of the "worst defense in the league" (although some have been calling it the "statistical worst defense in the league" because the Patriots continue to win games), are on pace to not only get a first round bye, but also claim the first seed in the AFC.
The Patriots main competitors for the top seed in the AFC have been the Houston Texans, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Well, while the Patriots pulled off another victory on Sunday, all three competing teams walked away with losses.
The Texans are on their 3rd string quarterback and lost to the Carolina Panthers.
The Ravens were absolutely stunned by the San Diego Chargers as their offense couldn't produce (and their defense fell apart).
The Steelers were unable to overcome the injury to Ben Roethlisberger and turned the ball over and their offense couldn't put anything together.
Common theme? Those three teams don't have offenses they can trust at this point in the season. You know who has the best offense in the AFC? That would be the New England Patriots. Defenses can only do so much if the offense can't put points on the board and that's what the Patriots love to do.
If you have questions about the Patriots defense, the first finger has to point at the fact that they are only as successful as the turnovers they force. Well, as Erik Frenz has pointed out, the AFC playoff teams aren't very good at protecting the football. The Patriots could play their style of football and have success in the AFC playoffs.
Oh, and if you want some additional support, look at the potential AFC playoff teams:
Denver Broncos - Tim Tebow may be a gamer, but their offense only plays as well their running backs can perform and Willis McGahee is hobbled with an injury. Lance Ball can step up, but the Patriots have shown that they can stop a running offense with the right personnel on the field.
Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Green has a very bad injury and Andy Dalton looks average without him.
So what's going on? The Patriots offense continues to fire on all cylinders as Aaron Hernandez finds his spot as the #2 receiver in the offense (Deion Branch can be #3). All the opposition? Injured (Texans, Steelers, Broncos, Bengals) or just inconsistent (Jets, Ravens). The Patriots are in a good place and are ready for the playoffs.
From a historical standpoint, the New England Patriots are on track to be the first team since the 2002-04 Eagles to repeat as the #1 seed in a conference. You have to go all the way back to the 1990-91 Bills to find the last repeat #1 in the AFC. This means that the Patriots, yes, the New England Patriots, are in the midst of something that hasn't been done in two decades.