Perhaps this week’s loss has made you forget, but the Buffalo Bills are in a three-way tie for the lead in the AFC East. The New England Patriots have won the division eight straight times, setting an NFL record in the process, but make no mistake, they are vulnerable in 2017.
Remarkably, it’s the Patriots play at Foxborough that’s making them look suspect. The Patriots have always been a difficult out on the road but at home they were unstoppable. In Week 1, they got smoked late in the game by the Kansas City Chiefs before barely beating the rookie-led Texans two weeks later, 36-33. The next week, they lost to the Carolina Panthers 33-30 in their own building. That’s a 1-2 record at home and the third win was by the hairs of their chin.
On offense, the Patriots are still great under Brady even with Julian Edelman on injured reserve and Rob Gronkowski once again hobbled. They still lead the league in yards and are third in points scored. (I won’t mention Mike Gillislee, guys, so we’re good.)
Conversely, the defense on which Bill Belichick has built his reputation has been faltering in 2017. New England’s defense, especially their pass defense, is terrible. They have ten sacks on the year, fifth-worst in the league. They've given up 8.2 Net Yards Per Attempt, tops in the league and 0.7 NYPA higher than the second-worst team. They've given up the most passing touchdowns in the NFL. They're also allowing 5.0 yards per rushing attempt, which is the third-most in the league.
Even with their struggles, the Bills and Patriots have both won three games with two losses. Both of Buffalo’s losses came on the road to top-10 scoring defenses. They have been able to take care of business in Orchard Park and travel to Atlanta to beat the Falcons. With a much easier schedule on the horizon for Buffalo’s offense (they don’t play a top-ten scoring defense again until Week 15), the Bills have the potential to string multiple wins together thanks to the great play of their defense. And Buffalo’s injured pass catchers, Jordan Matthews and Charles Clay, should be back for the stretch run against tough opponents in November and December along with a healthy Cordy Glenn.
Sitting tied with the Bills and Patriots are the New York Jets. Josh McCown hasn’t won three games in a row during his entire career until this week. They are playing on borrowed time. Miami is dead last in yards and points and their offense is going nowhere. They are definitely the worst team in the division, right?
Seriously. Someone has to win the division. It might as well be the Bills. New England has already won it for eight straight seasons. Sooner or later the law of averages has to catch up, right? Trust the process.