Last year in Week 7, the 6-0 Patriots were at the top of the Power Rankings charts and about to put the final nail in the AFC East with a victory over the Dolphins. New England had just beaten the Jets - a HUGE - win, for the division lead in Week 6.
If you remember, it was reported after the game that the Jets had requested the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium swept for bugs. Head coach Todd Bowles didn't seem to know anything about it, the league issued some kind of lame statement about how the bug-sweep and staff interrogation were "random", but the big news is that nobody found anything. Of course.
Chalk up a rare win against NFL Ops for Bill Belichick.
This Sunday the Patriots are heading into Pittsburgh for a matchup some analysts are saying isn't really fair since the Steelers will be without top personnel QB Ben Roethlisberger (knee) and DE Cameron Heyward (hamstring). Well, not to appear unsympathetic, but the 'fair' train left the station a long time ago. I'm still in full-throttle mode and hope the Patriots take full advantage of their opponent's situation. Pats win by at least two touchdowns.
Around the AFC East:
Buffalo (4-2) at Miami (2-4)
NY Jets (1-5) vs. Baltimore (3-3)
Houston (4-2) at Denver (4-2)
Oakland (4-2) at Jacksonville (2-3)
Kansas City (3-2) vs. New Orleans (2-3)
Tennessee (3-3) vs. Indianapolis (2-4)
Cincinnati 2-4) vs. Cleveland (0-6)
San Diego (2-4) at Atlanta (4-2)
1st - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): Seven Patriots caught a pass Sunday, and all seven had a reception of 10 or more yards. Tom Brady is going to have a phenomenal season. The Patriots have a ton of weapons, especially when Rob Gronkowski looks healthy (as he did gaining 162 yards against the Bengals).
1st - Mark Maske (Washington Post): Tom Brady has thrown for 782 yards and six TDs in his two games back. He hasn’t thrown an interception and he has a ridiculous passer rating of 135.5. The way this is going, Brady not only will win the league MVP award playing in just 12 games, he’ll win it in a runaway.
1st - Lorenzo Reyes (USA Today): Clearly no one has been happier to see Tom Brady back than Rob Gronkowski, whose 271 receiving yards over last two weeks are a personal best.
1st - Experts (ESPN): Tom Brady is 2-0 since his return from a four-game suspension and now he gets a Steelers team that will be without starting QB Ben Roethlisberger. Brady has not thrown an interception in his last five games against the Steelers, totaling 210 attempts in those games.
1st - Paul Chartier (WEEI): Tom Brady has 782 yards passing and six TDs with no picks in his first two games since his suspension. Those numbers are impressive but expected from the future HOF QB. Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett give Brady so many options in the middle of the field, while Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola continue to find pockets in the secondary on third down. The offense was expected to produce at a hight level, but it’s the fact that defense is allowing just a hair over 15 points per game that gives the Patriots the top spot.
1st - Manish Mehta (NY Daily News): The Evil Empire reclaims the precious top spot as the Tom Brady FU Tour rolls along like smooth jazz. Another game, another dominant performance by the ageless pretty boy quarterback. He's starting to make the vegan lifestyle very appealing for common folk. A date with the Big Ben-less Steelers awaits. Expect a rout.
2nd - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): Tom Brady says his team is "at a decent place." I'd say so. Outside of the fact the Patriots own the best record in the AFC, this two-tight end deal is rollin'. Last week, it was Martellus Bennett pulling off the hat trick in the end zone, missing on the Gronk spike. This past Sunday, the real Gronk was a one-man wrecking crew, with 162 yards and a touchdown in the win over Cincinnati. That's a career high in receiving yards for arguably the greatest tight end of all time.
2nd - Chris Burke (SI): Tom Brady’s QB rating through two games is 135.5, a good 13 points higher than the best single-season rating ever posted (122.5 by Aaron Rodgers in 2011). A couple more performances like he had against Cleveland and Cincinnati and Brady will make a belated leap into the MVP conversation, despite missing Weeks 1 through 4.
2nd - Jenny Vrentas (The MMQB): Tom Brady came back in Week 5. A healthy Rob Gronkowski came back in Week 6.
2nd - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): Forget winning another AFC East title with ease. With their best conference competition having injuries and other issues, and the Patriots no longer having any problems with Tom Brady back, it looks like they might be fast-tracked to their ultimate Super Bowl goal. The Bengals were no problem; now they get a short-handed team from the North. This week: at Steelers, Sunday.
2nd - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): They weren’t necessarily crisp or dominant, and they still beat the Bengals by 18. In other words, it could be time to clear another spot in the trophy case.
2nd - Cameron DaSilva (Fox Sports): Tom Brady hasn’t missed a beat since serving his suspension, and he has the Patriots playing as well as any team in the NFL. Their dominant win over the suddenly lackluster Bengals made a statement that they’re going to be tough to beat in the AFC.
2nd - Adam Stites (SB Nation): It was tempting to bump the New England Patriots up to the top spot after they cruised through another team with Tom Brady under center. Beating up on the Cincinnati Bengals is more impressive than defeating the Cleveland Browns, so there’s a case that the Patriots have done enough to prove they’re the No. 1 team. But they do have a loss, and until the undefeated Minnesota Vikings give reason to believe they’re not the best team, the No. 1 spot belongs to them.
2nd - Luke Miller (Metro): Two games, 782 yards, six touchdowns and a 135.5 quarterback rating. Sorry haters, but Tom Brady is still on pace for 4,692 yards and 36 touchdowns this season, 10.4 yards per attempt and a 76 percent completion percentage. We could go on. Oh, and sorry, Vontaze Burfict, but Martellus Bennett still has legs. Zero turnovers. OK, OK, we’re done.
2nd - Staff (AP Pro32).