Which team is currently the favorite in the AFC?

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) calls signals at the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, in Foxborough, Mass. Alex Smith outplayed the Patriots' Tom Brady in their season opener last week, serving notice that he isn't going anywhere as Kansas City's starter.(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Alex Smith calls signals at the line of scrimmage during the first half against the New England Patriots, in Foxborough. –AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through TwitterFacebook, email, his Friday chat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.

I agree that some of the concerns about the Patriots are legitimate. But is it reasonable to think they’re the favorite in the AFC East now that the Chiefs have lost? They’re only a game out of the top spot. If it’s not them, who is it? We panic awfully early around here sometimes. – Robert P.

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Well, with the acknowledgment that we’re not even halfway through the schedule, I think you still have to consider the Chiefs the favorite. They’re 5-1 after Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, who along with the Patriots are the only two 4-2 team in the AFC. And remember, because Kansas City beat the Patriots, any potential tiebreaker goes their way. So their lead is really two games.

Of course it wouldn’t shock me if the Patriots are the top seed – or certainly a top-two seed – come playoff time. But it’s also clear  they still have significant issues to resolve. They did a better job of protecting Tom Brady Sunday – the Jets didn’t sack him once – though I’d credit a lot of that to Brady’s savvy in the pocket rather than Nate Solder and Co. preventing a rush. They made Kony Ealy look like someone they should have kept.

And it’s clear that Stephon Gilmore isn’t the lone source of the miscommunication problems among the defensive backs. He was out with a concussion Sunday, and there were still a couple of bewildering blown coverages. I’m starting to think this isn’t out of character, but instead who they are.

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The Patriots will be in the mix for a first-round bye in December, provided Brady hasn’t been folded, spindled and mutilated beyond repair. But until they’ve allowed fewer points than the Browns (Cleveland has allowed 157, the Patriots 159), they’re no favorite. That’s still the Chiefs, with plenty of time for that to change.

What do you guys think? Through six weeks, which team is the favorite in the AFC East? I’ll see you in the comments.

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