BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots improved to 5-1 on Sunday with their 35-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and sit alone atop the AFC.

Boomer Esiason of The NFL Today and WFAN joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Monday morning, and said the Patriots are in a class of their own in the conference. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who the Patriots will take on at Heinz Field on Sunday, stand as their biggest competition, but they’re now dealing with an injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben will undergo surgery on a torn meniscus on Monday, which likely means Landry Jones will be taking snaps for the Steelers come Sunday.

What should have been a matchup between the two best teams in the AFC and a likely offensive shootout is now looking like anything but.

“I just don’t know that Landry Jones is the guy to put up huge numbers, which is what it’s going to take to beat the Patriots,” Esiason said. “This is a big disappointment. I thought we’d have a shootout at Heinz. This is a big disappointment.”

As for the AFC, Boomer said the conference is “murky” after the Patriots.

“I would have to say that Kansas City showed me something yesterday,” Boomer said of the Chiefs win over the Oakland. “The Raiders are fun to watch, just not the team [in the AFC West]. Pittsburgh will be in the mix assuming Ben can come back in a couple of weeks.

“New England is the best team, no question about that. Then you would have to say Buffalo, Denver and KC is right there,” he said. “Baltimore is a team that keeps disappointing. It’s just a really murky situation.”

The Buffalo Bills won their fourth straight game on Sunday, and are right behind the Patriots in the AFC East at 4-2. The two will clash again in two weeks up in Buffalo, as the Patriots look to avenge their Week 4 loss at Gillette.

“I’m not saying they’re as good as the Patriots, but we’ll find out when they go to Buffalo in a few weeks. But they’re a legitimate team right now,” Esiason said of the Bills. “The Bills can beat anybody on their schedule; I don’t think they can beat the Patriots if Tom Brady is healthy. They’ll put up too many points against that Bills defense. The Patriots stand alone as the class of the conference.”

Boomer also touched on Tom Brady’s ridiculous start to the season, whether or not the Bengals are a dirty team, and the QB situation in Dallas:


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