Another Sunday without your 9-0 Patriots, folks. Didn't like it in Week 1, didn't like it on the bye week, and didn't like it when they played Miami a couple of Thursdays ago. In this case, the Patriots will play a prime-time Monday night game against Buffalo for the second and final regular-season matchup of the year.
Playing on Monday means Buffalo will have had 11 days off before they show up at Gillette. That's plenty of time for them to figure out a better game-plan than the one they used back in September's 40-32 loss.
Since it is the Bills we're talking about, playing on Monday also means an extra full day of chatter. Rex Ryan already started weeks ago. He has been simultaneously praising Brady, Belichick and the Patriots up one side and down the other, while warning that his team is much improved from Week 2. I believe you, Rex. New England won't be fielding the same offense it did eight weeks ago either. In fact it's so new, Pats fans don't even know exactly what it will look like. Yeesh. The good news for us - and bad for the Bills - is that Bill Belichick is still behind the bench, and Tom Brady is still leading the team on the field. But don't let that keep you from talking, Rex. We've got five more days to kill before kickoff.
Around the AFC East:
Patriots (9-0) vs. Buffalo (5-4)
NY Jets (5-4) at Houston (4-5)
Miami (4-5) vs. Dallas (2-7)
Notable AFC Matchups:
Cincinnati (8-1) at Arizona (7-2)
Denver (7-2) at Chicago (4-5)
Kansas City (4-5) at San Diego (2-7)
Oakland (4-5) at Detroit (2-7)
Indianapolis (4-5) at Atlanta (6-3)
Jacksonville (3-6) vs. Tennessee (2-7)
Baltimore (2-7) vs. St. Louis (4-5)
Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) ranks them 1st: Even without Julian Edelman, the Patriots may have cleared the last major hurdle on their schedule.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 1st: Thanks to Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Stephen Gostkowski, they remain tangled winners atop everyone else. Injuries are starting to chip away at their domination, but their bottom-line business is still good.
ESPN Experts rank them 1st: The Patriots remain perfect thanks to Stephen Gostkowski, who also remains perfect. Gostkowski is 21-of-21 on field goals and 34-of-34 on extra points this season, making him the only kicker perfect on both.
Mark Maske (Washington Post) ranks them 1st: The injuries on offense, from those that have caused the juggling along the offensive line to the losses of RB Dion Lewis and WR Julian Edelman, are significant. No one is saying that the Patriots cannot go 16-0 during the regular season. No one is saying that they don’t still have a good chance of securing another Super Bowl title. As long as Bill Belichick is on the sideline and Tom Brady is at QB, the Patriots’ chances remain very good. But they’re not the team that they were even a few weeks ago and there are meaningful adjustments that must be made.
The AP Pro32 ranks them 1st.
Chris Burke (SI) ranks then 1st: Nate Solder is out for the season (and our thoughts are with him as his young son battles kidney cancer). So, too, is RB Dion Lewis. And now WR Julian Edelman could be sidelined until the playoffs with a foot injury. It's like Tom Brady is playing one of those "pick three things to survive on a desert island" games and he chose LeGarrette Blount, Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski.
Danny Kelly (SB Nation) ranks them 1st: New England narrowly defeated the Giants in New York with the help of a Stephen Gostkowski 52-yard field goal as time ran out. Danny Amendola stepped in for an injured Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski continued to do Rob Gronkowski things and Tom Brady benefited from a little bit of luck as Landon Collins dropped what would've been a game-sealing interception on that pivotal drive.
Dan Schneier (Fox Sports) ranks them 1st: Malcolm Butler is no longer just a Super Bowl hero, he is a shutdown cornerback. Not counting an 87-yard touchdown, he limited Odell Beckham Jr. to just three receptions for 17 yards on 11 targets. View season trend.
Frank Schwab (Shutdown Corner) ranks them 1st: The Julian Edelman injury is obviously a huge blow. Danny Amendola isn't a huge dropoff, though he's not as good as Edelman. The big problem is what happens when the inevitable Amendola injury comes.
Peter King (The MMQB) ranks them 1st: A left tackle starting his first game at the position, a right tackle starting his first game at the position, three rookie starting interior offensive linemen, the starting back lost for the year to ACL surgery, the most important wide receiver lost in the first half against the Giants. Beat goes on. Pats 27, Giants 26.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 1st: Tom Brady didn't look Canton-bound Sunday. All the more reason to crown him MVP -- even on an off day, he hunted and pecked his way to Pats 9, NFL 0. Spoke with a colleague who has watched the Patriots closely over the Bill Belichick era. His takeaway: The offense looks so different sans Julian Edelman. The injured receiver's ability to get separation is vastly underrated. While Brady and Belichick have been known to make players like Edelman or Dion Lewis (or even Troy Brown) better, you can't coach shiftiness.
Pat Kirwan (CBS Sports) ranks them 1st: The Patriots went to New Jersey with a makeshift offensive line, without their starting RB, and then lost their top receiving threat in the first quarter, but still found a way to come from behind and win. But it was a struggle, and the loss of so many weapons could eventually knock them out of this spot.
Reddit ranks them 1st: The New York Boogey Men left Tom, Ghost, and company too much time at the end of an exciting and wild game and paid the price. Edelman's injury is disappointing, but he might be able to go for the playoffs and until then, Amendola will attempt to hold down the fort. Looking to next week, the reigning, defending, and still undefeated Super Bowl Champions will host the Bills on MNF.
Brent Sobleski (Bleacher Report) ranks them 1st: A nail-biting victory against the Giants certainly made the undefeated Patriots look more vulnerable than they have at any previous point in the season. Meanwhile, this weekend's opponent, the Buffalo Bills, is getting healthy and starting to play well at the right time. The Bills will attempt to impose their will with a physical running game, but the Patriots currently own the league's second-best run defense.
Lorenzo Reyes (USA Today) ranks them 1st: Given Julian Edelman's broken foot, Wes Welker must be kicking himself for not staying unemployed one more week.
Sean Mason (Spark Sports) ranks them 1st: Despite injuries to their offensive line, Dion Lewis, and Julian Edelman, the Patriots remain at number one in the power rankings. Bottom line is this: The Patriots find ways to win games. They were depleted on offense so much on Sunday, that Michael Williams, the team’s third tight end, who lined up on the offensive line the previous week, was lined up on the outside as the Z receiver, and they still managed to win the game. One of the best attributes the Patriots have had throughout the Bill Belichick era has been their ability to overcome adversity. The loss of Julian Edelman is huge, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind, that this team will overcome it, and will not miss a beat on offense.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 1st: They will be in a tough spot trying to overcome the loss of Julian Edelman after losing Dion Lewis the week before. How much attrition can one offense take?.
Dan Parzych (Rant Sports) ranks them 1st: The New England Patriots may have improved to 9-0, but losing Julian Edelman for what could be the remainder of the season hurts for Tom Brady and company. Not to mention this injury comes one week after losing Dion Lewis.
AVERAGE RANK: 1.0