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What Should Patriots Fans Derive From The Games Preceding Their Upcoming MNF Battle?

Heading into a Monday Night battle with the Bears, the Patriots saw many of their rivals play. I look at the games that transpired on Sunday and what they mean for the Patriots moving forward.

Divisional Games – The Patriots’ AFC East Rivals

Jets 16, Broncos 9

The Jets put up a defensive clinic in a game that brought the Jets to 5-2, a record that doesn’t even make sense for them. However, the reality for the Patriots is that even if they win on Monday, they are a game behind the Jets and will go into East Rutherford facing the best Jets team they’ve faced since the early Mark Sanchez years.

The Jets did look somewhat weak offensively, and while Michael Carter keeps the position dangerous, Breece Hall’s potential absence could simplify things greatly for New England. Defensively, they certainly played well. However, against an already struggling Denver offense who were starting Brent Rypien in place of Russell Wilson, they weren’t up against a huge challenge.

This remains a winnable game for the Patriots, but is also somewhat of a must-win game in a very talented AFC East.

Dolphins 16, Steelers 10

The Dolphins nudge ahead of the Patriots for the time being, but certainly looked vulnerable at home against a struggling Steelers team in a game that they were really close to losing. The Patriots are looking like they can take revenge in Week 18, but first they need to keep pace with them until then.

Other AFC (or Interleague) Games – The Patriots’ Competition In The AFC Playoff Picture

Chiefs 44, 49ers 23

Any realistic Patriots fans will not see the Chiefs as a realistic team to chase for playoff seeding. However, if the Patriots do make the playoffs, the Chiefs will be an intimidating foe. The 49ers had the best statistical defense in the NFL coming into this game regarding both points and yards allowed. The Chiefs made a mockery of it, and after a 10-0 deficit, went on a 44-13 run to end the game. They have a high-powered offense and a defense that needs work but still can make big plays. A terrifying opponent for the Patriots.

Chargers 23, Seahawks 37

The narrative of the AFC West being the most stacked division in the league is fading. The Broncos look shaky, the Raiders won but still are full of holes, and now the Chargers are close to .500 after a good start to the season. LA is definitely a team that the Patriots could end up battling for playoff position, so this is a significant result, and with a win on Monday, the Pats can draw even with the Chargers.

Ravens 23, Browns 20

Coming in, both teams were fairly close to the Patriots in terms of their records. With this win, the Ravens move ahead, and the Patriots give themselves a chance to pull well ahead of Cleveland. However, looking at how effective the Browns’ offense was in that game, away from home against a team that handily beat the Patriots, last week’s win at Cleveland looks quite impressive.

Jaguars 17, Giants 23

The Jaguars become the Giants’ latest victims in a thrilling game. As Trevor Lawrence’s squad has been showing signs of improvement from last season, including in this game, it was an important result that kept Jacksonville at arm’s length regardless of tomorrow’s result.

Bengals 35, Falcons 17

The AFC North picture is becoming muddy. With the game that Joe Burrow had today, with 481 yards and three touchdowns, the Bengals’ passing offense looked as good as it has all season, albeit against a weaker defense. It will be something for the Patriots to keep an eye on, as a late-season game against Cincinnatti could be huge for the Patriots’ playoff push.

Raiders 38, Texans 20

This was a battle of teams well behind New England, but the Raiders certainly have the talent to make things interesting later on, and the Patriots will have to play them later in the season. Carr and Adams had a decent connection in the game, which bodes well for the offense, and Josh Jacobs had a massive game where he rushed for three touchdowns. A win over Houston that they couldn’t put away until late (and actually trailed for a lot of it) doesn’t say much, though, and the Raiders have a ways to go. The Texans should not be a threat for the Patriots in the playoff picture.

Colts 10, Titans 19

The Titans look like the class of the AFC South, with Derrick Henry continuing his great form and the defense putting up a clinic. The Patriots should consider themselves lucky to avoid the emerging team in the regular season. The Colts could be a competitor for the Patriots in the AFC race, especially with an upcoming game between the two in two weeks. They looked good defensively, but Matt Ryan and the offense have a ways to go, even with Jonathan Taylor back.

Go Pats!

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