The Patriots are in exactly that situation — sporting the league's best record — and if they can survive a trap game this week against Cleveland and not lose to both Indianapolis and Pittsburgh thereafter, a 13-win season could be very much within reach. Those 13 wins, in all likelihood, would be enough to give the Patriots the top spot in the AFC, provided each other team loses another time or two.
New England ends the season with Detroit, the Jets at home, Chicago, Green Bay at home, Buffalo and Miami at home. It could be easier, but that looks like at least 4-1. Principal rivals Indianapolis have to play Tennessee twice down the stretch, and Baltimore has an even tougher schedule than they do. On the other hand, while Pittsburgh and the Jets play each other and New England, their schedules otherwise are pretty manageable.
Then, of course, there is the issue of who is actually the best team — schedules aside. Pittsburgh and New England appear to be the teams with the fewest flaws, but it's still hard to totally trust New England's defense or Pittsburgh's offense.
If the Pats can manage wins over the Browns, Steelers and Colts, then they'd 9-1 with wins over two of their biggest rivals. In that case, there'd be even more reason for optimism.
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