On Sunday, New England (8-0) whipped Washington 52-7 to ensure they'll enter their game against Peyton Manning and the Super Bowl champions next weekend on a historic tear.
Indianapolis hasn't been as brutally efficient, but the Colts are still perfect at 7-0 after disposing of Carolina 31-7 on Sunday.
The rematch is on.
"Everybody's been talking about it for a long time, except us," Manning said. "I guess now it's safe to talk about it."
It may well be, but the Patriots have preferred to talk about what little they've done wrong.
The Patriots have scored at least 34 points in each game and have won each by at least 17 points. They've outscored opponents by an average of 41.3 to 15.9. A more dominant first half would strain the imagination.
"It's a long season," quarterback Tom Brady said. "It's not even November yet and we've got a lot of room for improvement left."
So true. Brady's passer rating for the season actually went down to 136.2, still it's 15.1 points better than the single-season record.
The holder of that record? Manning.
It's not as if he and the Colts haven't been dominant either. In their win Sunday over Carolina, Manning broke Johnny Unitas' team record for career scoring passes. Joseph Addai rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns and caught a TD pass, showing that the Colts are firing on all cylinders heading into their next game.
But the Patriots are simply on another level.
At the rate they're going, they'll score 662 points, shattering the NFL single-season record of 556 set by Minnesota in 1998.
Brady completed 29 of 38 passes for 306 yards and no interceptions. He's been picked off just twice all season, although he did lose a fumble Sunday. He extended his NFL record to eight games at the start of a season with at least three touchdown passes.
The 52 points New England scored were their most since they scored 56 against the New York Jets in 1979.
"I don't know of a weakness that they have," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said.
Also Sunday, the NFL played its first overseas regular-season game. The New York Giants beat Miami 13-10 at Wembley Stadium outside London.
In other games stateside, it was: Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 13; Detroit 16, Chicago 7; Jacksonville 24, Tampa Bay 23; New Orleans 31, San Francisco 10; Tennessee 13, Oakland 9; Cleveland 27, St. Louis 20; San Diego 35, Houston 10; Philadelphia 23, Minnesota 16; Buffalo 13, New York Jets 3.
Kansas City, Seattle, Arizona, Dallas, Atlanta and Baltimore were off.
On Monday night, Green Bay visits Denver.
Patriots 52, Redskins 7
In Foxborough, Mass., linebacker Mike Vrabel was a force on both sides of the ball in the biggest rout in a season filled with them. He caught a touchdown pass and forced three fumbles by Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell that led to 17 points.
Halfway into the season, Brady already has a career-high 30 scoring passes.
Colts 31, Panthers 7
In Charlotte, N.C., a slow start and a short week couldn't stop Manning and the Indianapolis Colts from becoming the first team since the 1929-31 Green Bay Packers to win their first seven games three straight seasons.
When Carolina quarterback Vinny Testaverde was lost at halftime with an ankle injury, the Colts' defense shut down David Carr the rest of the way.
Manning completed just 14 of 30 passes, but shook off early problems to eclipse another one of Unitas' records. His second TD, a perfectly thrown 59-yard pass to Reggie Wayne late in the third quarter was the 288th of his career, one more than Unitas.
Giants 13, Dolphins 10
In Wembley, England, the NFL's first regular-season trip overseas was every bit as sloppy as it was predictable.
Eli Manning threw for only 59 yards but ran for New York's lone touchdown to lift the Giants over the still-winless Miami Dolphins.
The Giants (6-2) allowed only 254 yards and held the Dolphins out of the end zone for the first 58 minutes for a victory that only the winners could view as anything remotely beautiful.
Miami (0-8) kept 0-16 very much in play for the season on this, the 35th anniversary of their perfect, 17-0 season in 1972.
Steelers 24, Bengals 13
In Cincinnati, the Bengals backed down from 4th-and-1 and took the safe field goal. Pittsburgh made them regret the decision.
Hines Ward caught a pair of touchdown passes, and the Steelers turned Marvin Lewis' conservative coaching decision into a pivotal moment for their seventh straight win in Cincinnati.
The Steelers (5-2) solidified their hold on first place in the AFC North and pushed the last-place Bengals to the precipice. The Bengals are 2-5 for the first time since 2004, Carson Palmer's first season as the starting quarterback.
Trailing 14-3, the Bengals drove to a fourth-and-1 from just inside the 2-yard line with 2:16 left in the first half. They called a timeout to talk it over, then settled for Shayne Graham's 20-yard kick.
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Lions 16, Bears 7
In Chicago, Jon Kitna passed for 268 yards, Kevin Jones ran for 105 yards and a touchdown, and the Lions showed they're serious contenders in the NFC.
Detroit is 5-2 for the first time since 2000 and making a strong bid for its first playoff appearance since 1999. The Lions have endured six straight seasons with at least 10 losses and won just three games last year, coach Rod Marinelli's first.
Kitna completed 24-of-35 without an interception. Roy Williams caught eight passes for 77 yards, and Shaun McDonald added six catches for 64 yards.
Jaguars 24, Buccaneers 23
In Tampa, Fla., Quinn Gray threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Matt Jones that put the Jaguars (5-2) ahead for good with 11:37 to go. Gray completed 7 of 16 passes for 100 yards, without an interception.
Jeff Garcia threw a 58-yard TD pass to Joey Galloway to help Tampa Bay (4-4) rally from a 14-point deficit and Michael Bennett's 19-yard TD run put the Bucs ahead 20-17.
Saints 31, 49ers 10
In San Francisco, Drew Brees passed for 336 yards and hit Marques Colston with three of his four touchdown throws in the Saints' third consecutive win.
It was the fifth straight loss for San Francisco (2-5).
Reggie Bush had 113 total yards for the Saints (3-4), who jumped to a 24-point halftime lead with a steady offensive effort including catches by nine receivers and four scoring drives longer than 72 yards. Brees went 31-of-39 and wasn't sacked for the fourth consecutive game.
Alex Smith went 22-of-43 for 190 yards with several noticeably bad throws and Frank Gore twisted his ankle again in the second half, finishing with just 41 yards rushing.
Titans 13, Raiders 9
In Nashville, Tenn., LenDale White ran for a career-high 133 yards, Rob Bironas added two field goals, and Vince Young survived his worst game as an NFL starter, completing only 6 of 14 passes for 42 yards.
The Titans (5-2), starting a three-game homestand, saw their defense carry most of the load. Tennessee came up with five sacks and two turnovers, the last an interception by Chris Hope with 2:35 left.
Oakland (2-5) lost its third consecutive game despite getting to the Titans 26 in the final minutes. Albert Haynesworth sacked Daunte Culpepper, who threw wide on third down and watched Mike Williams drop his pass on fourth-and-14.
Browns 27, Rams 20
In St. Louis, Derek Anderson threw three touchdown passes, two to Braylon Edwards, and the Browns erased an early 14-point deficit for their first road win.
The long-struggling Browns (4-3) matched their win total from last season and have won consecutive games for the first time since Weeks 5 and 6 of the 2003 season, a span of 46 games.
Chargers 35, Texans 10
In San Diego, two days after the last evacuees left Qualcomm Stadium, the tailgaters and the NFL were back.
Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes -- two to All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates
-- cornerback Antonio Cromartie had a monster game for the Chargers (4-3).
Cromartie recovered a fumble for a touchdown and had two interceptions, one of which he returned 70 yards for another TD.
Eagles 23, Vikings 16
In Minneapolis, Donovan McNabb threw for 333 yards and a touchdown and showed plenty of the mobility he appeared to have lost after major knee surgery.
McNabb took advantage of the league's worst pass defense, completing 23 of 36 passes and buying plenty of time with his legs to get his Eagles (3-5) back on track.
Adrian Peterson gained 70 yards on 20 carries for the Vikings (2-5), but was bottled up for most of the day by Philadelphia's sure-tackling, hard-charging defense.
Bills 13, Jets 3
In East Rutherford, N.J., J.P. Losman came on in relief of an injured Trent Edwards and connected with Lee Evans on an 85-yard touchdown pass with 3:38 remaining.
Rian Lindell kicked two field goals, including a 40-yarder with 10:06 left that gave Buffalo a 6-3 lead. The Bills (3-4) have won three of their last four.
New York (1-7) has lost five straight, a slump that started with a 17-14 defeat at Buffalo.
[The Associated Press]
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