Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Power Rankings: Pats, Bills freefall
By James Walker
Two weeks ago the New England Patriots were the unquestioned No. 2 team in the NFL, according to ESPN.com's Power Rankings. But that seems like a long time ago now that other teams are hot and New England lost two in a row.
We now have a three-way tie in the AFC East. Our panel was not very kind to the division.
Here is how that reflects in this week's NFL Power Rankings:
New England Patriots (5-3)
Power Ranking: No. 12 (down seven spots)
Walker’s vote: No. 8 (down five spots)
Analysis: The Patriots took one of the biggest drops in this week's Power Rankings. New England went from being a top five team to No. 12 after their loss at home to the New York Giants. I voted New England the highest on the panel at No. 8. But I don't like what I’m seeing. The Patriots have lost two in a row and they're not the precise, turnover-free team we are used to seeing from head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots are in danger of losing three in a row for the first time since 2002 with Sunday's rivalry game against the New York Jets.
New York Jets (5-3)
Power Ranking: No. 11 (up two spots)
Walker’s vote: No. 9 (up two spots)
Analysis: The Jets continue to climb up the Power Rankings. New York is the hottest team in the AFC East. The Jets won their third straight game in impressive fashion by beating the Buffalo Bills. New York has its swagger back at the right time. November and December will determine which division teams emerge and get into the postseason. The Jets received two top-10 votes from our panel this week. A win over New England would put the Jets back in the top 10 and in first place in the AFC East.
Buffalo Bills (5-3)
Power Ranking: No. 14 (down seven spots)
Walker’s vote: No. 15 (down nine spots)
Analysis: Like the Patriots, the Bills also dropped seven spots from No. 7 to No. 14 after getting drilled by the Jets, 27-11. I dropped the Bills from No. 6 to No. 15. It's dramatic. But when I was ranking teams, I thought 14 teams were better right now than the Bills. Teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and Chicago Bears are playing better. The Cincinnati Bengals and Jets beat Buffalo head-to-head. I also voted the Dallas Cowboys one spot ahead. We will find out if Buffalo can beat Dallas on the road this weekend. I like what Buffalo accomplished in the first half of the season. But the Bills still have something to prove. They are 2-3 in their last five games.
Miami Dolphins (1-7)
Power Ranking: No. 31 (same)
Walker’s vote: No. 30 (up one spot)
Analysis: I'm surprised Miami's first win of the season had zero impact in the Power Rankings. The Dolphins crushed the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-3, but still came in at No. 31. I voted Miami No. 30. Miami is playing solid football the past three weeks. The Dolphins had higher-ranked teams in Denver and the Giants on the ropes for three quarters, in addition to beating Kansas City. Miami has a chance to win two in a row for the first time this year with a home game against the struggling Washington Redskins.