The 8-0 New England Patriots currently sit atop the AFC alongside the Cincinnati Bengals who are also, surprisingly, undefeated at 8-0. The Broncos, who were 7-0 heading into this weekend, ended up losing to the Colts in Indianapolis Sunday afternoon. There is no denying that what and Cincinnati and Denver have done is impressive, but I still would put New England as the clear favorites to represent the AFC in Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50.
The buzz surrounding the Patriots right now is that they have a very real chance of going undefeated for the rest of the regular season, just like the 2007 Patriots team did. I personally believe that the Patriots will slip up and lose one game during the regular season. However, with that being said, if the Pats didn’t lose a game, would I be surprised? Nope – not even for a second. To this point in the season, I think the Patriots’ toughest opponent is the injury bug, which has bitten them pretty badly over the last couple weeks. So without further ado, lets take a look at the rest of the Patriots’ schedule and find the top 5 teams who have a shot of knocking of the defending Super Bowl champs.
#5 Eagles @ Patriots – Week 13 – 12/6/15
Chip Kelly and the Eagles head into Foxborough in early December to see if they can try to hand Brady and company a loss. Looking at the Eagles this season, their defense is mediocre at best and Byron Maxwell, their high profile free agent acquisition, hasn’t panned out for them. Offensively the Eagles were supposed to have one of the most potent offensive attacks in all of the NFL. However, in my opinion, Sam Bradford isn’t the right QB for their offense and quite frankly, Chip Kelly’s time management and play calling has been suspect. My guess is that the Belichick coaches Kelly under the table and this one gets out of hand in the second half.
Chance of losing: 20%
#4 Bills @ Patriots – Week 11 – 11/23/15
Sexy Rexy got the Bills back on track this weekend (I mean kind of, they played the Dolphins). Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins both played well but I’m still not jumping on the Bills bandwagon. I think this is a team that as no discipline and fails to produce when they need to make a play in crunch time. The only thing that I’m worried about is that the Patriots have their minds on their marquee matchup with Denver the following week and aren’t as focused as they should be for Buffalo. With that being said the Patriots never take any team for granted and this should be no different. Oh and by the way, the Patriots don’t lose at home.
Chance of losing: 25%
#3 Patriots @ Giants – Week 10 – 11/15/15
Next week the Patriots head into MetLife stadium and are trying to beat a team that has had their number in the past – the hated New York Giants. Believe it or not Eli Manning has been hot throwing the ball lately and the Giants sit at the top of the NFC L-East. Thinking about this game, the Patriots offense should be okay even though the Giants can get after the QB pretty well. This game will be decided when the Giants have the ball. On paper the Giants offensive weapons at WR should have a field day against the Patriots secondary but when you take a closer look that might not be the case. New England has given up 143 points in their 8 games thus far, but unbelievably, 70 of those points have been given up when the Pats have a 99% chance of winning late in games. That is unreal. Lets hope the Patriots get over the hump against a team who has burned us in the past.
Chance of losing: 40%
#2 Patriots @ Jets – Week 16 – 12/27/15
The Jets get their second crack at the Patriots late in December. The Patriots could be sitting at 14-0 and the Jets could be battling for their playoff lives. When these two teams matched up the first time, Tom Brady exposed the Jets “lethal” secondary, even though his receivers dropped 10+ passes. This game should scare Patriots nation a little bit because Todd Bowles is a great defensive mind and seems to be a pretty damn good head coach in the NFL. MetLife stadium will be a hostile environment with the playoffs on the minds of the Jets faithful, so Brady and the offense will have a more difficult time calling out audibles and adjustments. Every time these two AFC East rivals play it seems like the final score is decided by less than a touchdown. Expect that to be the case for this one as well.
Chance of losing: 45%
#1 Patriots @ Broncos – Week 12 – 11/29/15
This is it. This could very well be the last time we have a Brady vs. Manning showdown. The rivalry that has dominated the NFL over the last decade could be seeing its final curtain call. The Broncos suffered their first loss against the Colts but make no mistake about it, they are a very good team. They will probably have the #1 ranked defense heading into the matchup, but in his career Brady is 8-0 vs. the #1 ranked defense in the league. Manning and the Broncos offense aren’t anything special. They run the ball decently and have a mediocre passing attack with Manning on his last legs. It should also be noted that the Pats have a pretty damn good defense themselves. The Patriots now have a top 10 defense in yards/game, points/game, rush yards/game, passer rating allowed, sacks, interceptions, and completion percentage. The game being at Mile High stadium in Denver doesn’t exactly favor the Patriots, seeing as they haven’t played well there in the past. This will probably be the toughest test of the regular season and boy oh boy should it be a good one. With all that being said, I still like Brady over Manning once again.
Chance of losing: 49% (I refuse to go 50/50)
To recap, the Patriots have a very realistic shot to go 16-0, however, I think that they drop a game and finish 15-1. The Titans, Dolphins, and Texans all should be easy victories, and even some of the games here should be “sure thing” victories. My gut tells me that the Patriots will lose to either the Giants or the Jets, however there is a very good chance I could be wrong about that. If the Patriots weren’t so hampered by injuries I might be saying otherwise. But with Dion Lewis gone for the year, a very thin O-Line and a dicey secondary, I think the Patriots will lose during the 2015 regular season.