Three weeks ago tonight, I awoke from a brief slumber at 1:10 a.m. in a York, England, hotel to watch the Patriots host the Bears in Monday Night Football (back on this side of the pond, Tuesday Morning Football for me). Why? You may ask. For that, I don't have a good answer, other than being an overly attached die hard fan.

What does this have to do with anything happening currently? That has a simpler answer. Remember in that Monday Night game, the Pats got blasted by Da Bears, Zappe replaced an uninspiring Mac Jones at QB and the team fell back below .500 against a Chicago team that could barely score at that juncture of the season.

But oh how quickly things change. Three weeks later, and off their bye week no less, the Pats have vaulted into the AFC playoff picture after overtaking the Chargers for the 7-seed thanks to L.A.'s loss last night in San Francisco.

Miami now leads the AFC East, the Jets in second and the vaunted Buffalo Bills now just 1-game in front of the Patriots for third place in the division and the 2nd Wild Card spot.

With the Bills stumbling in back-to-back games, the AFC East is up for grabs. Miami should be viewed as a true contender with Tua back in the fold and throwing for 300 yards or 3 TD every week. The Jets can feel good having beat Buffalo in Week 9, while the Bills should frankly still be the favorites to finish atop the standings when all is said and done.

So, where are the Patriots in all this? They have the toughest remaining schedule of the four teams, coupled with the worst record at the moment. While a clearer path to the top has certainly opened up over the past couple weeks, does anyone believe the Pats have what it takes to make a run at 1st place?


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