Week one is in the books and your New England Patriots are 1-0 and sitting pretty atop the fresh, newly-released Power Rankings from around the league. Michael Hurley began one of his post-game columns with this thought, that I completely identify with:
At one point Sunday night, in the midst of one of the drives that led to one of the multiple lead changes in the fourth quarter, something very simple yet significant struck me.
The New England Patriots are a lot of fun to watch.
You won't have to scour the game threads of those AFC teams whose fans were following this matchup to know they were rooting hot and heavy for an Arizona Cardinals victory, or need a lie-detector to discover what they really think of New England, but quite a few also commented on what a great game it was. Similar sentiments could be found reading through game threads of XLIX too. All true. Enjoy every minute as the dynasty continues...
Week 2 brings the Miami Dolphins to Gillette Stadium to open the first home game of the season. Miami is coming off a 12-10 loss to the Seahawks and Jimmy G. looks to face another tough defense - physically tougher than Arizona's. Here's hoping Josh McDaniels dials up a plan for him to keep the offense moving and my fingernails intact.
Before I forget, many thanks go out to the rest of the AFC East who, in a show of solidarity, all decided to ignore the experts' advice to put wins on the board while the Patriots were playing handicapped. Again, many thanks. Patriots wouldn't be No. 1 without you.
Around the AFC East:
NY Jets (0-1) at Buffalo (0-1)
Notable AFC Matchups:
Denver (1-0) vs. Indianapolis (0-1)
Pittsburgh (1-0) vs. Cincinnati (1-0)
Baltimore (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1)
Houston (1-0) vs. Kansas City (1-0)
Jacksonville (0-1) at San Diego (0-1)
Tennessee (0-1) at Detroit (1-0)
1st - Frank Schwab (Shutdown Corner): They have three home games and then Tom Brady comes back. If they’re 4-0 when that happens, teams better start figuring out how to win an AFC championship game at Foxborough if they have Super Bowl dreams.
1st - Jenny Vrentas (The MMQB): The fine fifteen: Player safety problems. Hell hath no fury like the Patriots scorned. What they do consistently better than any team in the league is identify and expose the opponent’s weakness—even when they’re without their top two strengths, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
1st - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): This is deserved for the following reasons: a.) The Patriots beat the most talented team in the league on the road. b.) They did it with their backup QB. c.) They did it without arguably the greatest TE in league history. d.) One of the top two QBs in history returns in a few weeks. e.) NE controlled the game almost wire to wire.
1st - Chris Burke (SI): I realize that for a lot of y’all, praising Bill Belichick is like complimenting Darth Vader on his Death Star, but come on. That win in Arizona, minus Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the handful of other key guys who were unavailable, is about as impressive as coaching jobs get. If the Patriots can get by Miami on Sunday and the Bills in Week 4, the AFC East race could be over by October.
1st - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): Bill Belichick brings big bad boys to Bruce's building, Brady-less bullies blind side Birds with backup, Butler and Blount. This week: vs. Miami, Sunday.
1st - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): Most thought they would go 2-2 at best without Brady. Now 4-0 seems more than possible.
1st - Lorenzo Reyes (USA Today): They successfully hurdled what was perhaps toughest game on their schedule without Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski. Bad news for rest of AFC.
1st - Ryan Van Bibber (SB Nation): The Patriots went to Arizona without Tom Brady, Gronk, their starting offensive tackles, and Rob Ninkovich. They turned the ball over twice, and still beat one of the final four teams from last year and a presumptive Super Bowl favorite this year. If that doesn’t qualify you for No. 1 in this week’s power rankings, I don’t know what does.
1st - Manish Mehta (NY Daily News): The Evil Empire is so easy to despise, but Bill Belichick's team had the most impressive win in Week 1 after Jimmy Garoppolo went into Arizona without Gronk and beat one the trendy Super Bowl picks this year. Don't forget to give credit to the Pats defense that stymied a down-field Cardinals' passing attack. The Hoodie's game plan was brilliant.
1st - Staff (AP Pro32).
2nd - Experts (ESPN): Tom who? Rob who? Jimmy Garoppolo led the Brady-less and Gronkowski-less Patriots to an impressive victory in Arizona in Week 1 to move up the rankings. Next up? The Dolphins at home. The Pats are 20-1 at home against division foes since 2009.
2nd - Mark Maske (Washington Post): Have they clinched the AFC East yet? The opener in Arizona was supposed to be the one of the four games during Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension that the Patriots could not win. But Jimmy Garoppolo was very good in his first NFL start and the New England coaching staff, not surprisingly, was masterful..
2nd - Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk): If Jimmy G. keeps playing like #Tommy, how long will it be until the head coach is taking J.C.’s name in vain at a press conference, again?