It should come as no surprise that the New England Patriots have, once again, started the new NFL season looking like the league’s strongest team.
Coasting to a 7-0 start, the defending Super Bowl champions current stip atop both the AFC East and the AFC as a whole. With all the other division leaders in the AFC currently having at least two losses, it likely the Patriots remain in the #1 seed when the playoffs start, too.
But while there’s no doubt that the Patriots look primed to make a repeat trip to the Super Bowl, there is a slight element of luck as New England’s early-season schedule has been nothing short of a cake walk.
Through seven games this season, the Patriots have played the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Miami Dolphins, the New York Jets (twice, and once with a third-string quarterback), the Buffalo Bills, the Washington Redskins, and the New York Giants.
Not exactly the NFL’s cream of the crop, especially when you took a closer look at the numbers behind these squads.
-The records of the teams the Patriots have played combined is 11-27 (6-26 if you don’t count the Buffalo Bills).
-Patriots opponents are, on average, ranked 26th in the NFL in points per game.
-On average, Patriots opponents this season are scoring 15.5 points per game.
-The Patriots have given up 48 total points this season.
-Opponents have scored an average of 6.8 points against the Patriots.
-Patriots opponents are avergaing 194 passing yards per game this season.
The Patriots certainly have the best coach, quarterback, and an all-time great defense on their hands, but will it be enough when the going gets tough in January and they actually have to square off against legitimate competition? Ugh, honestly… probably. But let the rest of us dream, eh?
Eric is a New York City-based writer who still isn’t quite sure how he’s allowed to have this much fun for a living and will tell anyone who listens that Gotham City is canonically in New Jersey. Contact him on Twitter @eric_ital or via email firstname.lastname@example.org