The New England Patriots are right on schedule.
After battling through their notorious September struggles, the Patriots have won five straight games and are on pace to cement themselves as the class of the AFC yet again.
But if you ask Stephen A. Smith, New England isn’t among the upper echelon of NFL teams at this moment in time.
During Wednesday’s edition of “First Take” on ESPN, Smith rattled off his top five teams after Week 8 action, and the Patriots shockingly were absent from the list. If you’re befuddled by Smith’s take, his co-panelists, Max Kellerman and former Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody, are right there with you.
Yes, the Buffalo Bills are among the worst teams in the NFL this season, but Smith’s investment in Monday’s matchup at New Era Field seems a bit overblown. New England was forced to start a wide receiver at running back and were without star linebacker Dont’a Hightower, yet it still earned a 19-point win on the road in a hostile environment.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints undoubtedly are top-five teams, but is putting the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Chargers ahead of the Patriots justified? Both teams currently have the same amount of losses as New England, but Tom Brady and Co. largely have looked unstoppable on offense since the Pats’ last loss.
The Patriots will be tasked with a tough customer in Week 9 when Green Bay visits Gillette Stadium for a “Sunday Night Football” showdown, so maybe a win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will force Stephen A.’s hand in readjusting his rankings.