No Need To Look Too Far Ahead

Before anyone inks in a 16-0 regular season for the Patriots and an eventual rematch with the Colts at Gillette Stadium in January, they might want to at least consider using a pencil with a working eraser.

After their Week 10 bye, the Patriots face the suddenly resurgent Bills in what is always a tough divisional road environment. That leads into New England's toughest three-game stretch of the season.

The trip to Buffalo is followed by a Sunday night game against Philadelphia and a Monday night tilt at Baltimore. Both are very winnable, but certainly not cakewalks. The Ravens game is followed by a short week leading into what promises to be an entertaining clash against Pittsburgh -- one of the few teams capable of derailing Colts-Patriots II in 11 weeks.

--The only other AFC team capable of throwing a wrench into the mix is San Diego. The Chargers continue to underwhelm following Sunday's historic collapse of the usually stout run defense in Minnesota, but San Diego is still loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.

The Chargers get a Colts team at home next Sunday that could -- understandably -- experience a Patriots hangover. Indianapolis has to be careful, because a slip or two down the stretch and the Colts could find themselves playing on wild-card weekend while the Steelers watch from the comfort of their living room couches while enjoying a bye.

--The next most overly-hyped regular-season tilt will take place Sunday at Giants Stadium. The Giants have reeled off six consecutive victories since starting 0-2, and will be fresh off their bye. A win against Dallas would pull them into a tie atop the NFC East.

But how much have the Giants really evolved since their 45-35 season-opening loss at Dallas? Yes, their six wins have come by a combined score of 155-79, but they have also come against teams with a combined record of 13-36.

The bet here is the Cowboys again expose the inability of the Giants' linebackers to stick with running backs and receivers on underneath routes, and by Sunday night have all but sewn up the division race.

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