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Tuesday, September 6, 2011
AFC East Power Rankings analysis

By James Walker

ESPN.com released its NFL Power Rankings on Tuesday before Week 1 of the regular season.

Here is how things turned out for the AFC East division:

New England Patriots

Walker's vote: No. 1

Cumulative vote: No. 2

Analysis: The Patriots were the near-consensus No. 2 team behind the Green Bay Packers. I was the only panelist who went out on a limb and didn't vote for the reigning Super Bowl champs. The Patriots are stacked. They also have a favorable schedule in the first month of the season and could get off to a fast start. Three of New England's first four opponents (Miami, Buffalo, Oakland) failed to post winning records in 2010.

New York Jets

Walker's vote: No. 7

Cumulative vote: No. 7

Analysis: The Jets were all over the place with our panel. ESPN.com columnist Ashley Fox voted New York No. 4, while ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton rated the Jets No. 9. I was somewhere in between, voting the Jets No. 7. They are strong contenders but still have some kinks to work out. Sunday night's matchup against the Dallas Cowboys will be an interesting matchup between two talented teams still working to get on the same page.

Miami Dolphins

Walker's vote: No. 23

Cumulative vote: No. 24

Analysis: The Dolphins finished about where I expected. It's hard to get a good feel for this team, which has some talent but also some questions. The Dolphins were rated as low at No. 28 (NFC West blogger Mike Sando) and as high as No. 21 (Clayton). Chad Henne and Co. have a chance to make a huge statement in Week 1, hosting the Patriots on "Monday Night Football." Many in our AFC East community are predicting a Dolphins upset.

Buffalo Bills

Walker's vote: No. 30

Cumulative vote: No. 30

Analysis: As we predicted last week, the Bills were rated ahead of the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals. But it could be a tough go for the rebuilding Bills in this competitive division. Buffalo struggled in the preseason. The Bills went 1-3 and scored more than 10 points once in four exhibitions. The Bills will travel to play the reigning AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.