A common thing that people mentioned in the tiebreakers threads was that the Patriots weren't clutch and weren't winning the games that "really mattered."
I have a different theory - it's harder for other teams to adjust to the Patriots after having never played them in the past few years than it is for the Patriots to adjust to their opponents, even if they haven't seen them in a while.
I credit the Patriots' coaching staffs and scouting departments. There's a reason that the Pats usually (knock on wood) prepare better than most of the opponents that they don't face regularly.
Let's hope the pattern continues this week.