I sit here, still stunned from an unbelievable Sunday in the 2012 season of the NFL. I can't lie to you, I suddenly have serious doubts about the New England Patriots and their fate in a somewhat less than predictable season in both conferences, not just the AFC.
Bill Belichick put it this way in a post game interview on WEEI: "...we didn't do a good job in any area." I'm sure there are not a few teams saying exactly the same thing in some of their games this year. But many teams are experiencing more than the usual "ups and downs" to this point in the season.
But something really unusual, almost historical has happened in the AFC East division; 4 teams, the whole division, deadlocked at 3-3. The whole division tied at 500! That hasn't happened since the league went to the current divisional format in 2002. And all 4 teams have suffered heart breaking losses while also producing impressive wins along the way.
For example: The Jets destroyed the defenseless Colts this week, only 2 weeks after being shutout by the Niners. That same week, The Patriots ran over the Bills, who won an emotional game against the surprising Cardinals this week. The Dolphins have won and lost some very close games except for being blown out in week 1 by the Texans and then doing the same to the Raiders in week 2.
The Buffalo Bills have won and lost by a lot of points each week until yesterday, when the defense seems to have awoken from the dead and kept it close till the end, pulling off the OT win. And then there's the Patriots, drubbing the Titans in week 1, only to lose 2 close games to the Cardinals and Ravens, blowing out the Bills and Broncos the next 2 weeks, and finally losing in the fourth quarter to the Seahawks in the rain.
Also telling is the interdivision play, where the Jets and Patriots have won those contests so far against the Dolphins and Bills.
Where are these teams going and what will happen in this baffling division from here on out? Theories abound. The Patriots have been accused of having the easiest schedule in the league, but based on performances across all divisions, that may not be the most accurate assessment now. Teams that appeared weak after 2011, have broken the mold with the new year, and in some cases a whole new look and attitude. It's just a matter of perspective, but every schedule and team is tough and the Patriots still face some good teams down the stretch this year. I know the coaching staff feels the same way.
It's still fairly early in the season, two games shy of mid way; and yet I feel equally compelled to give my opinion of the fate of the four front runners in the East.
I have to set the Patriots at the top, considering what most likely will be 2 more tough losses before the season ends. Then come the Jets, who will likely finish the season just 1 game over 500; and quite possibly tied with the Dolphins at the number 2 spot and conceivably winning the tie breaker to squeak into the playoffs as a wildcard.
And last but certainly least come the Bills, never able to get into any kind of rhythm and falling to the basement at a dismal 5-11 or if they get lucky 6-10.
Kind of fitting that the division ends up 11-5, 9-7, 9-7, 5-11... sort of a Palindrome with even spacing top to bottom. How convenient! But once again, the Pats take the title and fight their way through the Playoffs one more time.