It was very easy to pick the New York Jets to win Sunday night's showdown against the New England Patriots. In fact, picking the Jets to beat the Pats had probably never been so easy.
The reasons why the Jets were going to win were self-evident. They were coming into the game on a three-game win streak, during which the studly defense we've come to associate with the Jets was very much on display.
The Patriots, on the other hand, were coming into Sunday night's contest on a two-game losing streak. As if that wasn't enough, they were dealing with some kind of offensive funk the likes of which New England hadn't seen in a long time.
So all things considered, this was a game the Jets were supposed to win.
Naturally, they lost. Tom Brady went back to being Tom Brady, and the Pats offense found its old rhythm as a result. The Jets, meanwhile, went back to looking mediocre defensively, and Mark Sanchez looked like, well, Mark Sanchez.
Ultimately, the Pats walked away with an easy 37-16 victory, much to the chagrin of that insufferable windbag Fireman Ed and the rest of the MetLife Stadium faithful.
The Pats also walked away with sole possession of first place in the AFC East. Conceivably, the Jets could still make a run at the division crown, as there are still seven weeks of football left to be played.
But that's not going to happen. The race in the AFC East is done. Finished. Finito. And the Pats have won it.
That the Pats have a one-game lead and a tiebreaker over the Jets are just a couple reasons why the AFC East race is well and truly over. Take a look at New England's remaining schedule, and you'll see the other reason. From here to the end of the season, the Pats' schedule is remarkably easy.
The Jets don't exactly have to run the gauntlet in their own right, but they are facing an uphill battle. Besides which, we must keep it in mind that Rex Ryan's Jets aren't much for consistency. They'll win more games than they'll lose, but they are not going to become a juggernaut any time in the near future.
They can be beat, and they will be beat.
Is the AFC East race over?
So will the Patriots, for that matter, but not quite so many times as the Jets. As long as Tom Brady can continue to look like Tom Brady, it's going to be hard to bet against the Pats, not to mention hard to beat them.
For what it's worth, we're probably not going to see the Pats play as well defensively as they did on Sunday night. They still have more than their fair share of weaknesses, and these weaknesses have been worsened by the blasted injury bug.
But the injury bug's bite won't be lethal. Once again, things are too easy for the Pats in the last seven weeks of the season. They are not a great team, but they are certainly good enough to avoid mucking it all up.
Meanwhile, the Jets will scrap for a wild card berth. Since the AFC West and AFC South don't seem very interested in providing competition, and because the Buffalo Bills look worse and worse every week, the Jets should be able to get one.
When they do, it won't be long before someone says, "Can't wait!"