The New England Patriots currently sit atop of the AFC and are on a five game winning streak as they enter their bye week this weekend.
Needless to say there were very few people who could have predicted this the last time New England lost a game which was a vicious 41-14 mauling at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Since then they have ran riot over the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears and lets not forget last weeks impressive 43-21 win over the Denver Broncos.
There were those around the NFL who were questioning if it was the end of Tom Brady and the Brady/Belichick era after they went 2-2 at the start of the season.
Now sitting top of their conference with the biggest winning streak in the NFL, it seems that the tales of New England's demise were greatly exaggerated.
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Many people are now looking at the Patriots as possible #1 seed contenders in the AFC and some even envision them as future Super Bowl participants.
I however look into the future and see the Patriots failing to secure the number one seed and see them as unlikely to reach the Super Bowl this year.
Mainly because I still view Denver as the team to clinch home field advantage and the Patriots to get no further than the same hurdle they've fallen at in the last two years.
As great as it would be for the franchise to reach another Super Bowl and possibly get Brady his fourth ring, they face a major problem.
New England really the favourites?
New England are on form, yes, they're looking good for the Super Bowl, yes but out of the top four teams in the AFC and their two real competitors in the AFC East, they undoubtedly have the toughest next five games.
The Patriots face tough trips to the Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers while welcoming the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions to Foxborough.
The Lions and Colts are top of their respective divisions whilst the Dolphins lie third in the AFC East with a 5-3 record and a win over the Patriots already this season.
As for the teams around them, the #2 team in the AFC - the Broncos, welcome the Bills and Dolphins to Denver where they have looked unstoppable.
They now face two consecutive games on the road at the Oakland Raiders then the St Louis Rams which SHOULD be two easy victories.
The Colts toughest games will surely be the visit of the Patriots and a trip to the inform Cleveland Browns whilst the Bengals horrendous performance against the Browns tonight makes them look like less of a challenger.
The Pittsburgh Steelers however - who were fifth in the AFC before the Browns and Bengals game pose a very dangerous threat as the season moves on.
Of course the Patriots will face some competition in their division as both the Dolphins and Bills have shocked the NFL this season and could pose late season threats to New England's AFC East dominance.
However you choose to look at the run in for the rest of the regular season and the play-offs, it goes without saying that the Patriots will need to be at their absolute best if they hope to be in Arizona come February.
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