Eric Decker talked about the state of the AFC East earlier this week.
"I think we're there, to be honest," Decker said on NFL Network this week. "We're set up with a tough schedule… a playoff team's schedule. You got to win your division games. With Brady being suspended four games, I think it makes that division up for grabs. I believe in this team that we're ready to make the run now."
Quarterback play is a great equalizer in the NFL. Brady being lost for a quarter of the season is a wild card. Nobody knows how this will play out because nobody knows how Jimmy Garoppolo will actually play. If Garoppolo is the real deal, the Pats might not skip a beat. If he is miserable, the Pats could find themselves in a deep hole by the time Brady actually takes the field.
A tough schedule really does not mean a lot when it comes to the division race. Fourteen of the sixteen games are either in common with or against division foes.