What's this NFL-World coming to?
The Patriots have been justifiably ranked Number One for weeks by every analyst I've come across. They're favored to win again this week by the largest point spread so far this season. Mid-season awards from multiple sources declare Tom Brady the Mid-Point MVP, and his teammates - including the defense and the head coach*- are getting plenty of love and recognition. Go figure.
The rest of the AFC East isn't quite the juggernaut previously thought, although it's still miles ahead of it's cousin down south. Indy is imploding in an even more spectacular fashion than I ever dreamed possible, and about to face Denver, its second undefeated opponent in a row. Colts' season-ticket holders wouldn't even be able to give their seats away for this one without getting punched in the mouth by the intended recipient. Imagine getting these re-gifted in a birthday card. Ouch!
Whatever is going on, I'm going to enjoy it and allow my high-alert indignation to take a breather. Maybe this Sunday I'll get to relax on the couch for the entire game. No nervous pacing, no jumping up while the defense is backing up because I can't sit still. Someone else can refill the chip bowl and take the dip out of the oven. Maybe I'll even ask whoever's in the kitchen to hand me a drink. C'mon 'Skins, you can give me one week off, can't you?
Around the AFC East:
Patriots (7-0) vs. Washington (3-4)
NY Jets (4-3) vs. Jacksonville (2-5)
Buffalo (3-4) vs. Miami (3-4)
Notable AFC Matchups:
Denver (7-0) at Indianapolis (3-5)
Cincinnati (7-0) vs. Cleveland (2-6)
Oakland (4-3 at Pittsburgh (4-4)
San Diego (2-6) vs.Chicago (2-5)
Tennessee (1-6) at New Orleans (4-4)
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 1st: Thanks to Tom Brady playing out of his mind, body and soul again and Bill Belichick having the same old soundbite, the incumbents have proved again there are no term limits for their dynasty.
ESPN Experts rank them 1st: The Patriots have three turnovers this season, tied for the fewest through a team's first seven games in the Super Bowl era. None of those turnovers have been in Foxborough, where they host the Redskins in Week 9.
Mark Maske (Washington Post) ranks them 1st: Thursday night produced another dominant win, this time over the Dolphins, but more juggling along the offensive line. The Patriots get to face NFC East opponents who should be overmatched, the Redskins and Giants, the next two weekends.
The AP Pro32 ranks them 1st.
Chris Burke (SI) ranks then 1st: What else can they be expected to do, really? Tom Brady is steamrolling toward the MVP award, leading the NFL's most potent scoring offense. Dion Lewis has emerged as a potential superstar at running back, even as the Patriots try to settle their offensive line. And the versatile defense is thriving, thanks in no small part to Malcolm Butler's turn from Super Bowl hero into every-down cornerback. They've barely broken a sweat en route to 7–0. Midseason Grade: A.
Danny Kelly (SB Nation) ranks them 1st: Still clearly on top are the New England Patriots, who systematically dispatched what had looked to be a formidable opponent on Thursday Night Football in a red-hot Miami Dolphins team. Tom Brady continues to play the quarterback position on another level, mixing surgical accuracy with savvy efficiency and a zen-like understanding of what is going on in front of him. When Brady drops back, all I can picture is that moment when Neo realizes he can perceive and manipulate the Matrix to do his bidding. It's become almost easy for Brady right now as he lazily swats away anything and everything defensive coordinators (agents) throw at him.
Dan Schneier (Fox Sports) ranks them 1st: You can’t stop tight end Rob Gronkowski, you can only hope to contain him. The fifth-year tight end has seven touchdowns in seven games this season. Getting linebacker Dont’a Hightower healthy has played a key role in the defensive turnaround. View season trend.
Peter King (The MMQB) ranks them 1st: Washington coach Jay Gruden was asked if he uses as motivation the fact that 99.67 percent of America believes the Patriots will rout his team this weekend. "Well," he said, "on paper it looks like that." It certainly does.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 1st: Hard to figure these guys rolling the way they are. Two quick theories (among 165) on the Patriots' dominance: 1) There's been continuity at the top, from ownership to Bill Belichick to the staff down to the quarterback. Too often, organizations move on from head coaches too soon, which means successful coordinators don't stay in place, either. 2) Rob Gronkowski's unique career. For all the talk of the 2007 Patriots having Randy Moss while this team's best wideout is Julian Edelman, bear in mind that Gronk is more unique than Moss was. Gronk doesn't take plays off, he can block, and he plays outside or inside. He's the big, goofy, focused queen on the chessboard.
Pat Kirwan (CBS Sports) ranks them 1st: The Patriots offense shut down the Miami hype machine with 437 yards and 36 points on a short week. The questions are starting about whether anyone can stop this team.
Reddit ranks them 1st: It's mini-bye week in Patriot-land and things are going great! The Pats playing last Thursday almost a lifetime ago did not leave Bostonian's weekends unmoored and without structure or meaning! The Pats dismantling of The Interesting-New-Dolphins is a positive but distant memory and having our team sit out on Bloody Sunday was a blessing, but we fans and the Patriots are extremely pumped up and already thirsting for this weekend's clash with a red hot Redskins team.
Brent Sobleski (Bleacher Report) ranks them 1st: Brady is simply playing at another level right now, and he seems to get better each and every week. Against the Miami Dolphins, the four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback threw for 356 yards and four touchdowns. What makes the team even more difficult to prepare for is the fact no one on the roster cares who gets the ball, because they all know they'll eventually get their chances.
Lorenzo Reyes (USA Today) ranks them 1st: If you scoff at notion they could go undefeated, consider only two of their final nine opponents currently sit above .500.
Sean Mason (Spark Sports) ranks them 1st: Another week, another outstanding game for the Patriots. They are clearly the best team in the NFL. I feel like I say it every week, but the Patriots have so much versatility on offense they are almost impossible to prepare for. Tom Brady is playing the best football of his career. He is making the quarterback position look easy each and every week. Brady is on pace for 46 touchdowns and over 5,500 yards.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 1st: The only question: Will they go undefeated? The defense is improving by the week, which is scary.
Tire Rack (Rant Sports) ranks them 1st: .Even on short rest, Tom Brady (356 passing yards with four touchdowns) and the New England Patriots still have what it takes to dominate their opponents as they were no match for the Dolphins. As long as he continues playing at this high level, there's a good chance Brady will runaway with MVP honors this season.
AVERAGE RANK: 1.0