Bill Belichick is the greatest NFL coach of all time, and it's not going to be a debate at all when he finally retires.
Belichick has won more Super Bowls (six) than any other coach, but he's also 41 victories away from tying Don Shula for the most victories in coaching history, a record that I used to think was unbreakable.
So with his resume as a backdrop, it means something when I say this year's coaching job is one of his best, if not the best.
At 7-4, after ripping off five straight victories, Belichick's Patriots are atop the AFC East, a spot they have owned for most of his tenure in New England, and they are in the chase for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
If you would have said that after four weeks of the season, people would have thought you were nuts. But, in vintage Belichick fashion, he has put a slow start behind him and has his team surging at the right time.
The Patriots are up to No. 7 in my Power Rankings after dominating the Atlanta Falcons on the road last week. If not for an overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the streak would be at seven games. If not for a fumble inside the 10 in Week 1, they would have also defeated the Miami Dolphins. The only game where New England wasn't in it came in a Week 3 loss to the Saints.
The Patriots are winning with a power running game, a physical, smart defense, and rookie quarterback Mac Jones taking care of the football and managing the game as he develops his game.
Watching the Patriots play defense, with all their different looks, is a coaching treat that you know has Belichick's hands all over the game plans. The confusion they cause for opposing quarterbacks makes the whole thing work.
Getting this team to 7-4 without a star quarterback, since Jones has a long way to go to get to that, has to make Belichick privately a little proud — even if he would never admit it.
New England hasn't exactly ripped off five victories against a tough schedule, so some will say to slow the roll. The next four games will decide how good the Patriots truly are and can be. They play home against Tennessee, at Buffalo, at Indianapolis and then home against the Bills before closing with the Jaguars and Dolphins. If they win five of those six, especially if they split with the Bills, there's a real chance they can be the top seed in the AFC.
That would be another testament to his coaching greatness. Belichick has made his fair share of mistakes like the rest — yes, I've been critical of some of them — but he's proving once again that when he's finished there will be no doubt as to who the best of all time will be.
|They won two games on the road against division teams without Kyler Murray. That's good enough to move them up to this spot. Colt McCoy played well.||3||9-2-0|
|They move up on their bye week because so many teams lost around them. They face a tough one against the Packers this week.||4||7-4-0|
|They lost a road game at Minnesota in the closing seconds. The injuries have really impacted them in a big way. They still have a cushion in the division, but they will be challenged by the Rams this week.||2||9-3-0|
|That had to be a major letdown as to why they lost to the Texans at home. Or was it a sign that the offense might have major issues going forward?||2||8-4-0|
|In blowing out the Giants, they looked like the team we expected to see this season. The defense looked much better in that game.||2||8-3-0|
|Winning on the road without Lamar Jackson is impressive - even if it wasn't pretty. The schedule gets a lot tougher in the coming weeks, starting this week with Cleveland.||2||8-3-0|
|They've moved to the top of the AFC East with their five-game winning streak. Now comes a tough one with the Titans.||2||8-4-0|
|They have turned their season around, and it's the defense that has led the way. They have been playing well on that side of the ball the past three weeks.||2||7-4-0|
|Now that Justin Herbert is back throwing it around, they can play with anybody. The coaches wised up by getting back to featuring Herbert throwing it down the field.||2||6-5-0|
|With Jonathan Taylor carrying the offense, they can be real threat come playoff time. They can run it as well as anybody and the defense is getting better.||4||6-6-0|
|They are starting to look like a big disappointment if they don't get it going. That won't be easy at New Orleans Thursday night.||8||7-4-0|
|They didn't do enough on offense in the loss to the Chiefs. Dak Prescott has to be better, even without some of his best offensive players.||7||8-4-0|
|They came out of their bye with an impressive road victory against the Raiders. That's the Bengals we saw in October, a team that can certainly be a playoff team.||4||7-4-0|
|The injuries on defense crippled them against the Chargers. The good news is the offense showed some life in the passing game.||1||5-5-1|
|They still aren't playing well, but at 6-5 they are doing enough to stay in the playoff hunt. They face a huge division game with the Ravens this week.||3||6-6-0|
|Beating the Packers in dramatic fashion Sunday keeps their division hopes alive, but the reality is they are likely chasing a wild-card spot. The offense can be dynamic.||3||5-6-0|
|They've won two straight to get back on track as a possible playoff team. The schedule is brutal down the stretch, but they are playing much better.||3||6-5-0|
|By winning two straight games - only a close loss to the Chargers prevents it from being four straight - the Eagles are in the thick of the division race. Jalen Hurts is playing outstanding football right now.||8||5-7-0|
|They've lost three straight games to fall to 5-5. Their Thursday night game against the Bills will be a real challenge as they try to get it turned around.||7||5-7-0|
|Winning on the road against Carolina keeps them in the playoff chase. Taylor Heinicke is playing well.||7||5-6-0|
|Cam Newton brought some energy, but he didn't bring a victory. Losing to Washington is a bad loss for this group.||6||5-7-0|
|They just don't look like the same team we saw a month ago. Three straight losses can do that to a team as they scramble to try and right things.||6||6-5-0|
|They've won two straight games to keep their playoff hopes alive. Now they face another winnable game against Carolina at home.||2||5-7-0|
|They come off their bye with a huge division game against the Chargers. They have to be better on offense to really make a playoff push.||3||6-5-0|
|This just isn't their season. Even getting Russell Wilson back can't solve their issues. They are bad on defense.||3||3-8-0|
|Two straight losses has them falling out of playoff contention, as if they were really in it anyway. They have way too many holes.||3||5-6-0|
|The offensive line is so bad that it just bleeds over to the entire offense. That's been a problem for this team for a long time.||3||4-7-0|
|This season is basically over. Now comes the question of who gets fired after the season, Matt Nagy or Ryan Pace or both?||--||4-7-0|
|They showed some good things in beating the Titans on the road. That means they haven't quit, which is a good thing for coach David Culley.||2||2-9-0|
|So much for the progress they were making. The offense is a disaster. They can't score points.||1||2-9-0|
|When Zach Wilson is ready, he needs to play. Forget about the other quarterbacks and build for the future.||1||3-8-0|
|They competed at Cleveland with a backup quarterback, which is a good sign. They might play backup Tim Boyle again Thursday.||--||0-10-1|