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Patriots Remaining Schedule Looks Easy Because Other Teams are Terrible

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The Patriots have a pretty easy looking schedule, but that wasn't the story prior to the season.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Don't blame the Patriots for their remaining schedule. It's not their fault that other franchises are terribly run.

Prior to the season, the New England schedule wasn't as laughable as right now. We are bearing witness to how the team building process doesn't always translate to on-the-field results, and how injuries and poor coaching have changed the landscape of the Patriots season. Teams can, and should, change as the season moves forward, but at this current snapshot it's evident that New England is in a class by itself in the AFC.

The opener against the Steelers made sense as the two best AFC franchises of the past 20 years kicked off the 50th Super Bowl season. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they lost star center Maurkice Pouncey to an injury, and star running back LeVeon Bell and #2 wide receiver Martavis Bryant to suspensions. The defense was in transition as veterans retired in the offseason. The Patriots won walking away and the Steelers are now missing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to injury and are coming off a loss to the previous winless Ravens.

The week 2 game in Buffalo was supposed to be Rex's coming out party, especially after ravaging the not-yet-confirmed-as-awful Colts in their season opener. The Patriots were traveling to face Buffalo's top defense, and Rex has always managed to stifle the New England offense, and plenty of fans quietly accepted that a potential loss here wouldn't be the end of the world.

Instead, Tom Brady demolished the Buffalo defense and Rex Ryan was left with yet another "moral victory" as the Bills closed the 24 point gap in the 4th quarter.

The Patriots were supposed to beat the Jaguars in week 3, but with a week 4 bye week and a week 5 visit to Dallas, fans were projecting a 2-2 start as a reasonable place to start the season. My, how the times have changed.

The week 5 game against the Cowboys was expected to be a monster performance, with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten attacking the Patriots questionable secondary. Well, Romo and Bryant will be on the sidelines, and Witten is dealing with injuries of his own (he won't miss time, because Witten is the toughest sunnovagun in the NFL, but still). Brandon Weeden is under center, with Matt Cassel the new back-up. The Cowboys top receiver in week 3 was their running back, with 10 receptions. That's their new offense.

The Colts were supposed to host the week 6 revenge game and spent their offseason bolstering their offense with weapons to attack the Patriots defense. Quarterback Andrew Luck is hurt, but more importantly he has been a bottom-three quarterback through three weeks. Their run defense is better than last season, but now their secondary is depleted due to injuries. They can't, and won't, catch a break.

The Patriots then host a three-game home stand against the Jets, Dolphins, and Washington. The Jets look better than expected, and their defense is one of the best in the league with Sheldon Richardson still yet to play a down, but Ryan Fitzpatrick usually turns into a pumpkin around midseason which will hinder their offense and Darrelle Revis just injured his hamstring.

The Dolphins are threatening to "throw in the towel" on their season; their offense has not taken the step forward and the Patriots offense seems to be perfectly fine against quality defensive lines. If the Dolphins are still engaged at this point in the season, and their coach hasn't been fired, then the Patriots will be smelling blood.

Washington is fielding a bottom 10 passing attack with wide receiver DeSean Jackson injured, and the Patriots will becoming off of extra rest as the Miami game is on Thursday Night.

The Patriots then head to the Giants, a team without an offense beyond Odell Beckham Jr. and with the last ranked passing defense in the league. They host the Bills on Monday Night Football; Rex is 1-10 in his past 11 games in prime time (including 0-4 against the Patriots).

In week 12 New England will head to Denver to face the Broncos. The Broncos defense looks incredible, but the Denver offense is less than half as efficient as the Patriots attack and Peyton Manning is playing as poorly as Andrew Luck with two pick-sixes on the season.

The Patriots will host the Eagles, travel to the Texans, and then host the Titans down the final stretch of the season. The Eagles and Texans have two of the worst offensive situations in football, and Bill Belichick, with an 18-5 record against rookies, will have plenty of film on rookie Marcus Mariota by week 15.

New England closes the season with an away-and-away at the Jets and Dolphins in what should have been a climactic finish to win the division. It currently looks like the Patriots will have a better chance of resting their starters than they will of fighting for a division title.

Prior to the season, the notion of the Patriots traveling to face the Cowboys, Colts, Broncos, and Giants would have been considered a tough draw for New England. The Eagles game was projected to be a dogfight, and the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins were supposed to finally be ready to take down the Patriots.

The Cowboys ignored their depth at quarterback and the Colts front office is a dumpster fire. The Broncos are seeing age and a questionable offensive line affect Peyton Manning in a new offense, and the Dolphins might be just done with Joe Philbin at head coach. The Bills and Jets have good rosters, but they'll be taken as far as their inexperienced (Tyrod Taylor) or average (Ryan Fitzpatrick) quarterback will take them.

The Bengals are looking like the only other complete team in the AFC and New England wouldn't have to worry about them until the playoffs, where Prime Time Dalton struggles. The odds are against New England finishing the regular season undefeated, but this isn't looking like the year to bury the dynasty.