The New England Patriots kicked off the most difficult stretch of their schedule with games against two of the four division leaders in the AFC.
They hosted the one-loss Broncos, the team considered the Super Bowl favorite at the time, and ran away with a 43-21 victory. Yesterday, the Patriots traveled to the RCA Dome, an arena they had historically struggled in, and beat the 6-3 Colts with another decisive 22 point win.
By defeating two of the AFC's best, the two highest scoring offenses in the league at the time the games were played, you would think there would be some reprieve.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with this cruelly difficult schedule. Next up for the Patriots? The 7-3 Detroit Lions. The number one ranked defense in the NFL. The week after that? The 7-3 Packers, new holders of the "highest scoring offense in the NFL" award.
In fact, the only other game the Patriots have on their schedule against a sub-.500 opponent is the New York Jets. And that's in week 16 on the road.
Thanks schedule makers.
So buckle in. Things are only set to get more difficult from here on out. Following, yesterday's game, the Patriots have a little bit of breathing room in the chase for a bye and the first seed. But one or two slip-ups down the stretch could change that in a heartbeat.