Ultimate power rankings: AFC East


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
It's hard to argue with rankings put together from appropriate statistical data.

That's why Page 2's power rankings since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger look dead on to me. Print it out. Fold it into eighths and stick it your back pocket for ammunition when you walk into your local chat-and-guzzle establishment.

Here's where the AFC East ranked:

4. Miami Dolphins

10. New England Patriots

18. Buffalo Bills

28. New York Jets

How sad. The team that forced the merger with Joe Namath's dramatics ranks so low (one spot ahead of the Cleveland Browns, no less; although all-time NFL analysis would propel the Browns way up the ladder because of the Jim Brown-Otto Graham days).

The Jets have a .435 winning percentage and lead the NFL with 12 seasons of four wins or fewer since the merger. They've also had 14 coaching changes, tying them with the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts.

The reason the Dolphins place so high is the long and successful tenure of Don Shula. His gaudy 257-133-2 record and 26-year tenure impact two of the categories used: winning percentage and number of coaching changes. The Dolphins have gone through six in the 13 years since Shula retired, but that averages out to a respectable one new head coach every 5.6 years since Shula took over in 1970.

That the Patriots rank 10th despite all of their mediocrity before Bill Belichick and Tom Brady came along illustrates just how dominant they've been.

The Bills ranked tied for 10th on the Super Bowl chart, helping them overcome a .474 winning percentage. Teams that went to fewer Super Bowls were listed higher, and teams that won a title were listed lower because of the formula that awarded 50 points for a victory and only 25 points for getting there.