Could the New England Patriots end up winning the AFC East?

Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

With a 5-4 record, the New England Patriots find themselves firmly entrenched in the playoff picture in the AFC currently. With all of Sunday’s results in the books, they currently are the 7 seed in the AFC through nine weeks of play, and could move up another spot if the Pittsburgh Steelers end up losing their Monday night tilt against the Chicago Bears. It seems like New England will certainly be a part of the Wild Card race, but should they be setting their sights higher?

Just above New England in the AFC East is the Buffalo Bills, who sport a 5-3 record due to them already having had their bye week. The Bills were runaway favorites to win the East this season after Josh Allen broke out last season and led Buffalo all the way to the AFC Championship game. But things haven’t necessarily gone as planned for Buffalo this season, and their most recent loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars this week has certainly raised some eyebrows.

With the Patriots on a three game win streak, and the Bills unexpectedly losing to the Jaguars, the AFC East is now looking like it could be a battle between these two squads. The Bills and Patriots still have two games against each other on the schedule, and those contests are looking like they could become quite important in determining who ends up winning this division. So with that being said, could the New England Patriots actually end up winning the AFC East?

Why the New England Patriots have a decent shot of winning the AFC East

The short answer to that question is yes. With eight games left on the schedule, and two of them being against Buffalo, the Pats control their own destiny in their division, which is realistically more than anyone could have hoped for coming into the season. Banking on them to beat Buffalo in both of those games may be wishful thinking, but if they do, that probably means they are going to win the East.

The problem is that it probably won’t be as simple as that. Buffalo still possesses a stronger roster than New England, but they certainly don’t appear to be as invincible as once thought. They still also have an extra game to play too which gives them the inside track as of right now.

The Patriots also have a tougher remaining schedule in front of them. Aside from the two games against with Buffalo, the Pats have some tough games against the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, and Tennessee Titans on their second half slate. The Bills have games against the Colts, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers still to play, but they also have two games against the lowly New York Jets as well.

Expecting either team to simply win out is unrealistic as well. The Bills have mauled their opponents at times, but they have also struggled against some opponents that they would be expected to beat. They lost winnable games against the Steelers and Jaguars, and their Week 8 matchup against the Miami Dolphins was actually rather close, but the Bills pulled away in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots remain a bit too inconsistent as well. The defense and run game have stepped up in their two most recent wins, and while rookie quarterback Mac Jones continues to stand out among the rest of the rookie quarterbacks this season, he goes through bouts of inconsistency too often.

All biases towards the Patriots aside though, they probably should be leading the East right now. They dropped very winnable games against the Dolphins, Buccaneers, and Dallas Cowboys before reeling off a three game win streak, and that could end up coming back to bite them. The Bills have struggled a bit so far, but up to this point, it hasn’t really affected them.

Next. Brandon Bolden continues to step up for the offense. dark

But the New England Patriots control their own destiny in the AFC East, and they have just as good a shot as the Bills to come out on top in the division. The two upcoming games against the Bills could end up becoming mightily important, but the Pats obviously have to keep continuing to win against their other opponents too. Regardless, the Patriots have proven to be playoff contenders, but it may be time for the team to set their expectations higher.