The good news for the Patriots is that both of those teams
play in their division.
The Patriots have been far from perfect through the first
quarter of their schedule, but you could argue that they've been better than their 2-2 record
indicates. So that's good news if you're a supporter of New England's tackle football team.
What should be even more encouraging, however, is what we were all reminded of on Sunday afternoon — the rest of the AFC East is a complete, utter and undeniable joke.
There's a three-way tie atop the AFC East now, but that won't last. Make no mistake, this is the Patriots' division to lose, and it may take an act of God for that to happen.
In the span of about three hours on Sunday afternoon, we saw the Bills and the Jets — the two teams expected to give the Patriots any sort of trouble in the division this season — just melt away.
Let's start with the Bills. Oh, the Bills. Shame on any of us for falling for the spin coming out of western New York this offseason. You know, like the spin coming from Buddy Nix, the architect of this underachieving Bills squad.
"New England, the AFC — they don't scare me," the Buffalo general manager told a Toronto newspaper just a little more than a month ago. "I think we can compete with any of 'em, and our intention is to try to win the division."
So far, that ain't true, Buddy. Sure, the Bills are tied for the AFC East lead with the Patriots, but Buffalo's two wins have come against Kansas City and Cleveland. Whoopty. Doo.
We saw the real Bills on Sunday afternoon. They fed off of a rabid Buffalo crowd (and more importantly a sloppy Pats team) early on, and then something happened. The Patriots punched back. And they punched back hard.
When that happened, it was all over for the Bills. They have talent here and there, but they showed Sunday that they just don't have what it takes to be a legitimate contender, at least not yet. Legitimate contenders show fight, and the Bills lacked mightily in that department on Sunday.
The Patriots gashed the Bills on the ground and Tom Brady hit wide-open receivers all day long. (While we're on the topic, there still isn't a member of the Bills secondary within 10 yards of Rob Gronkowski down the seam.)
The next impact play that Mario Williams makes (aside from cashing a fat check) will be the first he makes a member of the Buffalo Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to inspire no one, other than those who say he's not fit to win football games on a consistent basis at this level. Chan Gailey is the head coach of that football team. These are all recipes for an underachieving football team, which is exactly what the Buffalo Bills are for the time being.
Head south a few hundred miles, and you've got yourself the New York Jets, a train wreck of epic proportions. When they lost Darrelle Revis for the season earlier this week, their hopes of a division title all but went with his blown-out knee. On Sunday, the Jets were blasted at home by the San Francisco 49ers.
No shame in that, right? The Niners are a very good football team. The Jets were expected to lose that game. Yet, they weren't necessarily expected to get dump-trucked. That's exactly what Jim Harbaugh's boys did, crushing Rex Ryan and the Jets' souls, stomping a mud hole and walking it dry on the way to a 34-0 win.
Mark Sanchez is a mess right now, but that may actually be the least of the Jets' problems. We saw the most Jets play in the history of the Jets when Santonio Holmes — the Jets' primary offensive "weapon" — went down with an injury, only to throw the ball back toward the middle of the field where San Fran picked it up and took it back for a touchdown.
The offensive line is nothing to write home about, and a Revis-less defense is downgraded immediately. For crying out loud, people, there are people calling for Tim Tebow to start for the Jets! They're way beyond pets' heads falling off territory.
Add it all up, and the Jets aren't a good football team. This isn't the time for Super Bowl guarantees, but rather a rebuilding, that may very well mean Ryan isn't long for New York. That's to be decided.
So you're left with the Patriots and the Dolphins. Are we really at a point where the Dolphins may actually be the second-best team in the AFC East? Maybe not, but they've at least shown some fight this season, which is more than the Jet and Bills could say on Sunday night after losing by a combined 58 points. That is not good.
We're only four weeks into the season, but it's probably safe to start printing up the 2012 versions of these. Barring catastrophic injuries or an apocalyptic asteroid landing on the 50-yard line of Gillette Stadium, this division belongs to the Patriots.
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