The Patriots technically were the away team for Sunday’s Week 11 game against the Raiders in Mexico City, and it felt that way for New England in front of 77,000 fans at Azteca Stadium … until the Patriots (8-2) stormed out to an early lead on their way to a 33-8 blowout of the Raiders (4-6).
One safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, remains solid, but their better, more-venerable safety, Morgan Burnett, can’t shake the injury bug. Meanwhile, Casey Heyward has been an elite corner for the Chargers since signing there last year. Micah Hyde was an offseason steal at safety for the Bills.
The Packers have had some bright spots in the front-seven with with Daniels and Clark anchoring for their young inside linebackers. It has transformed the run defense from terrible to good in two years, but at the same time, the pass rush has gone tumbling down.
Overall, the combined record of 2017 AFC teams is 68-78 compared to 78-68 in the NFC. The NFC fields the team with the league’s best record — Philadelphia (8-1) — and four seven-win clubs in New Orleans, Carolina, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Rams. New England (7-2) and Pittsburgh (7-2) are the AFC’s lone seven-win teams. All four AFC divisions have a negative point differential. The opposite is true in the NFC.
“The division is tough this year. Everyone’s playing well,” Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly told Sporting News after Carolina’s 45-21 beatdown of Miami on Monday night. “When the teams are winning, you try to keep pace. They’re trying to do the same things we are.”
All three teams are similar in their game plans. The Saints, Panthers and Falcons all boast MVP-caliber quarterbacks, but the defenses and the running games are the real keys to success.