Power Rankings preview: Bills or Patriots?

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
4:30
PM ET
It was not a great weekend for the AFC East. The division lost two of its three games in Week 8.

Here is how those results could impact this week's NFL Power Rankings:

New England Patriots (5-2)

Last week: No. 2

Results: L, 25-17 against Pittsburgh

Analysis: The Patriots were outplayed by another AFC contender in the Pittsburgh Steelers. New England won't drop far. There is no shame in losing to Pittsburgh on the road. But the game continues to confirm New England's biggest flaw. If quarterback Tom Brady is slowed or kept off the field, the defense isn't good enough to carry the Patriots. Brady will have great games more often than not. But counting on him every week to be superb is a big burden, especially come playoff time.

Projected ranking: No. 3-5

Buffalo Bills (5-2)

Last week: No. 7

Results: W, 23-0 against Washington

Analysis: The Bills are in first place near the midpoint of the season and control their own destiny. They played one of their most complete games in Week 8 with a 23-0 shutout of the Washington Redskins. Yes, Washington was banged-up, but it is hard to keep any team from scoring in the NFL. Buffalo also registered nine sacks. The Bills will be hard to beat when the defense plays like this. But here is the million-dollar question: Should the Bills be ranked higher than the Patriots? Buffalo has the same record and won the head-to-head battle in Week 3. I have an idea of what I'm going to do. But I'm interested to see how the overall voting turns out Tuesday.

Projected ranking: No. 4-6

New York Jets (4-3)

Last week: No. 13

Results: Bye

Analysis: The Jets were inactive in Week 8 but come off the bye on a two-game winning streak. New York has a huge game Sunday against the rival Bills which could be elimination games for one of these teams. I don't expect much movement for the Jets this week. Maybe the Jets will move up a spot or so, because teams tend to climb a little during the bye.

Projected ranking: No. 11-13

Miami Dolphins (0-7)

Last week: No. 31

Results: L, 20-17 against Giants

Analysis: You kind of feel sorry for Miami now that the team is putting forth maximum effort. The Dolphins blew a fourth-quarter lead for the second week in a row to lose to the Giants. A strong case can be made that Miami played well enough to win its last two games against the Giants and Denver Broncos. But this team simply isn't good enough to finish games, and it deserves its power ranking near the bottom of the league. The Dolphins have now lost 10 in a row dating to last season.

Projected ranking: No. 30-32

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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