The Patriots were able to take down one of the toughest foes in the AFC in the Baltimore Ravens Monday night by a 30-23 clip at The Razor. Tom Brady was magnificent and, if it is even possible, the defense was better.
While the Patriots did relinquish 23 points to an offense that, to be perfectly honest, isn't very good, 14 of those points came from a punt that bounced off of Cyrus Jones' foot and a fumble by Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater. The Patriots allowed 348 yards of total offense to the Ravens, but were able to force turnovers, block punts, and make life difficult on both sides of the football.
The defense looks to have developed some swagger and nastiness that should only get better against a Denver Broncos team that has had their fair share of struggles offensively. If the Patriots are able to defeat the Broncos at Mile High next week, they will almost certainly wrap up a first-round bye and should get the #1 seed in the AFC.
At this point, the biggest contenders to the Patriots in the AFC are the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Each team has their fair share of issues, but the Pittsburgh Steelers scare me the most. They are one of the few teams that can match the Patriots pound-for-pound on offense and get key stops on defense. However, the Steelers still have to face the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens before they can even start thinking about the playoffs.
The Raiders, Chiefs, and Broncos are currently beating the crap out of each other in the AFC West, so I am not overly concerned about any of those teams knocking off the Patriots, especially if they have to play at Gillette Stadium, which is looking more and more likely with each passing week.
At this point, the only thing that can derail this Patriots team is if there is a signfiant injury to an impactful player or they massively underperform. Tom Brady is playing some of the best foobtall of his career and the defense has quietly been putting it all together after trading Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins.