1. New England Patriots
It's impossible to ignore the New England Patriots at this point. At 8-4, they sit atop the AFC East much as they have for the better part of the last two decades. Only this time, the team looks very different.
Rookie quarterback Mac Jones is putting together a strong case to be named Offensive Rookie of the Year and has legitimately been playing very good, efficient football in recent weeks.
But Jones is hardly the player carrying them to victory. The Patriots have arguably the best defense in the NFL to thank for that.
New England hasn't allowed more than 13 points in a game in nearly a month. Over their last four games, they've given up an average of 6.5 points per game.
That includes matchups against the previously-AFC-best Tennessee Titans this past Sunday and a Cleveland Browns team that was fresh off a 41-16 blowout victory over the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago.
The notion that they haven't played good teams can be put to bed. They have —and they've won.
The Patriots will really be put to the test with matchups against the Bills, Colts, and Bills again awaiting them over the next three weeks. If they emerge from the other side with a 2-1 or even 3-0 record in those games, the Patriots might just steal the No. 1 seed in the AFC East.
It's the nightmare Jets fans and the rest of the AFC East didn't want to believe. But the Patriots are back, and they've put the entire NFL on notice.