Is there anyone rooting more fervently for a Patriots quarterback controversy than Rex Ryan? No matter what Bill Belichick dials up against the Buffalo offense, Ryan believes his team will always have a chance to win on defense - especially against an offense without the one quarterback who works and works until he eventually figures him out and sees right through to the game plan tucked in the belt behind his back.
This isn't just a game for Rex. It's not 'Week 4' of the regular season. This is his proverbial Super Bowl. The Ryan Family coaching skills straight up against Belichick's. His single opportunity to rip the veil off the vaunted Patriots with no Tom Brady to save them. This is going to be a game, people. All three phases.
That said, Belichick keeps walking his treadmill; highlighter between his lips, game plan in front of him, All-22 on the monitor... Pats win by at least 14 points.
Around the AFC East:
NY Jets (1-2) vs. Seattle (2-1)
Miami (1-2) at Cincinnati (1-2)
Denver (3-0) at Tampa Bay (1-2)
Baltimore (3-0) vs. Oakland (2-1)
Pittsburgh (2-1) vs. Kansas City (2-1)
Houston (2-1) vs. Tennessee (1-2)
San Diego (1-2) vs. New Orleans (0-3)
Indianapolis (1-2) at Jacksonville (0-3) in London (9:30 am, ET)
Cleveland (0-3) at Washington (1-2)
1st - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): When Bill Belichick’s story is written, this four-game stretch won’t be in the first paragraph. It’s not bigger than winning four Super Bowls or a never-ending streak of double-digit win seasons. But it’s incredible. When he’s finally done and we put him up against all-time greats like Don Shula, Vince Lombardi and Bill Walsh, we’ll remember him taking inexperienced quarterbacks — in place of Tom Brady, who might be the best quarterback ever — and not missing a beat. We might be witnessing Belichick cementing himself as the greatest coach of all time.
1st - Jenny Vrentas (The MMQB): The team starting a third-string rookie shut out the team starting a $72 million QB.
1st - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): Does it matter who plays quarterback? Bill Belichick is putting on a coaching clinic. The defense has a chance to be really good.
1st - Cameron DaSilva (Fox Sports): At this point, it’s not completely ludicrous to say the Patriots could win with Julian Edelman at quarterback. Bill Belichick is only bolstering his legacy as an all-time great with each passing week, most recently beating the Texans with a third-string, rookie quarterback. New England has the best team in football, and will only get better when Tom Brady returns.
1st - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): It almost will be like Tom Brady never left. Deflategate is about to leave the NFL with plenty of egg on its face as the Bill Belichick Machine keeps chugging along. With the defense and running game, it's easy to dust opponents regardless of who's at QB. This week: vs. Buffalo, Sunday.
1st - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): After a one-week absence, the Patriots are back atop these here Power Rankings. The slight doubts that I had about them at this time last week were put on the grill with the Jacoby Bris-ket. (I'll be here all week. And yes, I know you don't pronounce it that way.) It'd be impressive to win a prime-time game -- on a short week -- with your backup quarterback. But how about winning by four scores with your third-string QB against a playoff team? Come on. Those "Bill Belichick is the greatest head coach of all time" pronouncements don't sound too hyperbolic anymore, eh? Next up: Rex.
1st - Chris Burke (SI): "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ..." That’s inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, of course, but it’s also how Bill Belichick answers the question, "Whom could you win a game with as your quarterback?"
1st - Lorenzo Reyes (USA Today): Lost amid brilliant game plan they implemented for rookie QB Jacoby Brissett was defense pitching its first shutout since 2012.
1st - Manish Mehta (NY Daily News): The Evil Empire reclaimed the top spot after a how-the-hell-did-they-pull-that-off shutout of the Texans. All hail The Hoodie, who had a brilliant game-plan for Jacoby Brissett’s first career start. Nobody is better than Bill Belichick. So, what will he do for an encore this week when Rex Ryan rolls into town? Brissett has a wounded thumb. Jimmy Garoppolo might or might not play with his banged-up shoulder. If Belichick beats the Bills with Julian Edelman under center, I’ll scream.
Tied-1st - Staff (AP Pro32).
2nd - Mark Maske (Washington Post): Step right up. Start at QB for the Patriots. Anyone? Don’t worry. Bill Belichick will find a way to make it work.
2nd - Paul Chartier (WEEI): Bill Belichick rarely gets considered for the NFL Coach of the Year award because his teams are expected roll out of bed and go 12-4. Thursday night’s win should change that. Belichick had three days to prepare Jacoby Brissett, and the most exciting moment must have been when Belichick got to run the option in an NFL game.
2nd - Experts (ESPN): Hey Bill, just start Julian Edelman at quarterback this week against the Bills. You've won with a second- and third-stringer this season, so go for gold. The rest of the AFC East teams are all 1-2, and FPI gives your team the best odds at making the playoffs (94 percent). Just do it.
2nd - Adam Stites (SB Nation): New England somehow survived without Tom Brady to start 2-0, and then the team somehow had its best game of the season after losing Jimmy Garoppolo too. Jacoby Brissett is injured now and the Patriots are keeping quiet about who the starter will be in Week 4, but it hasn’t seemed to matter much who's under center for them.