We’re about halfway through the 2017 NFL regular season and with the New England Patriots on its bye week, it’s time to take stock of where the team sits across the league, particularly the AFC.
With the Patriots losing two of its first games, it seemed like the team would be grinding it out to make the playoffs. However, despite key injuries to the likes of key contributors in wide receiver Julian Edelman, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and a lack of consistency/availability from cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the team has to really like where it currently sits.
After an opening night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots were looking up at them in the standings for supremacy in the AFC.
However, after a hot start, the Chiefs have fallen back down to earth, losing three out of their last four games, which gives the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers the top spot in the AFC, as both teams are currently at 6-2. This third loss by KC was important due to the fact that if the Patriots and Chiefs are tied at the end of the regular season, the tiebreaker would go to the Chiefs since they won the head-to-head matchup in the season opener.
This means that the Dec. 17 faceoff between New England and Pittsburgh will more than likely play a huge role in determining who has home field throughout the playoffs.
Before the team can think about Pittsburgh, it has to take care of business againt the rest of the schedule. Even with the Denver Broncos struggling, Tom Brady and Co. have always had a hard time playing there. The Oakland Raiders have played in Mexico last season, so it will know the logistics of a complicated trip and have a slight edge on the Patriots.
Last but not least, you cannot count out the division, where teams seem to just play a bit harder than usual.
Even with a long journey ahead, the positive sign is that the Patriots now control their own destiny, which is all you can really ask for during this time of year.