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Samsonite Make Your Case: Division Dangers
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Death, taxes and the Patriots dominating the AFC East. That once again appears to be the direction we're headed as the Patriots get set to close the season with five of their last six games against division opponents.
Despite the plethora of AFC East games still to play, New England is in complete control with a three-game lead over second-place Buffalo and four games over Miami and the Jets. But even though it appears as if the division is a foregone conclusion, there's still a possibility that the Patriots could stub their toe against one of their rivals and potentially put the No. 1 seed in the AFC in danger.
Over the years the Patriots have rarely run the table in the division despite the fact that they've won the AFC East eight straight years and 14 times overall under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Only twice - in 2007 and 2012 - has New England managed to go unbeaten within the AFC East, so doing so this year would be out of the norm.
With that in mind this week's Samsonite make Your Case question asks: Which remaining AFC East game is the most dangerous for the Patriots? Read
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
It doesn't appear as if the Patriots will drop any of their remaining games against AFC East teams, but the one possible exception could be Monday night in Miami.
First, the Patriots always seem to struggle in Miami, even with Tom Brady. Brady is just 7-8 on the road against the Dolphins in his storied career, so for whatever reason he doesn't always play his best in the Miami heat.
Also, the Dolphins game falls on a Monday night, the week before the potential showdown for the No. 1 seed with Pittsburgh. That creates the possibility of a trap game, and with the game taking place in a venue that hasn't been kind over the years it wouldn't be a stretch to envision a difficult game.
Of course it won't likely matter because the Patriots are simply the better team, but stranger things have happened.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
All signs are certainly pointing toward the Patriots running the table in the division for just the third time under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. But if there is to be an upset it would be on the road against Buffalo.
This comes with the following qualifier - Tyrod Taylor must be the quarterback. Otherwise, no chance. Taylor is not a great quarterback and it's clear the Bills need to move on, but he is mobile and the Patriots have had some struggles with mobile quarterbacks this season.
Playing in Buffalo hasn't been an overly daunting task for the Patriots over the years, and the Bills are trending in the wrong direction, but Taylor might feel he has something to prove after being benched recently, and his legs represent a concern for the defense.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.