Even a bye week can offer encouragement.
At 1 p.m. on Sunday, and with the gloom from the Miami massacre still lingering, there was not much reason for excitement for Patriots fans about their team.
By the time Monday transitioned to Tuesday at the conclusion of the final Week 4 game, the Patriots hadn't played a snap, but reasons for optimism abounded, and hopes for a playoff return had reignited.
As Sean Crowe at the Bleacher Report said, this is because no team in the AFC took advantage to make a push for the front of the conference. The Patriots sat at home, while the teams looking to snatch New England's crown exposed themselves.
Denver's defense stinks. Pittsburgh almost let a rookie from Delaware (Delaware???) beat them. The Bills are, until further notice, still the Bills. The Chargers don't know if they're these Chargers or those Chargers. The Colts and Jaguars so far have been enigmas. And for some reason, I'm not really afraid of this guy. Or him.
New England still does have work to do, and the clock is ticking for Cassel to prove himself. But the AFC is more open than its been in years, which bodes well for certain Bradyless teams.