Browns Patriots Football

Quarterback Mac Jones, here against the Cleveland Browns, and the New England Patriots moved into first place in the AFC East without even playing on Sunday.

Do you believe in miracles?

My bad. That’s already been used.

Your New England Patriots — on Oct. 18, 2021 — were 2-4, looking up at 10 other teams in the AFC with a better place in the standings.

Your same Patriots, five weeks later — on Nov. 23, 2021 — are looking up at two teams. Barely.

One team, the 8-3 Tennessee Titans, are fresh off one of the most humiliating losses of this NFL season against the 1-9 Houston Texans — and that’s saying something with the amount of humiliating losses we’ve seen. The Titans just happen to be coming to Foxborough on Sunday.

The other is the 8-3 Baltimore Ravens, who found a way to steal a win without their star, Lamar Jackson (illness).

The bigger news, though, is the AFC East. To earn anything in January and February, it starts at home.

The AFC East “beast,” the Buffalo Bills, are now fresh off their second extremely humiliating loss — first to the lowly Jaguars (9-6), and on Sunday to the average Colts (38-15) — over their last three games.

I hate to say this, the Patriots trek to the AFC East lead, by a half game, has been too easy.

Sure, there is a little Lady Luck involved, with the Titans losing their best player, running back Derrick Henry, for the stretch run, but that’s part of the NFL program.

Deal with it.

Instead, the Titans couldn’t beat, arguably, the NFL’s worst team heading into Week 10, at home.

The Patriots haven’t done anything extraordinary to get into this freakish position — one game out of the first seed and bye — except take care of business.

They beat the living daylights out of the also-rans (Jets and Falcons), and handled the middlers (Chargers, Panthers and Browns) with semi-ease.

But the better news, from the Patriots perspective, is they are improving every time they play.

Mac Jones is looking like this isn’t his first NFL rodeo. and the defense is looking, well, like the best group in the NFL.

That’s not to mention the weekly special teams advantage, the re-born offensive line, the above-average group of receivers, and one of the best running back rooms in the NFL.

Am I shocked that this happened?

Hell no.

I sort of expected something like this, making a run, making the playoffs, and making some noise in January.

I am shocked this has all come together before Thanksgiving?

Obviously, there is a lot of room for movement with eight weeks of football remaining.

But this is crazy.

I don’t know if the Patriots are truly Super Bowl material, but they are in the discussion more than they’ve been in nearly two years and they will be hunted because of their past successes and, of course, their head coach. They also have two games with Buffalo and, of course, this Sunday hosting the Titans.

They are by no means gimmees.

Another week of NFL games has passed and we’re learning now more than ever this year, 2021, is there to be had.

You can email Bill Burt at

Trending Video

Recommended for you