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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: AFC East

By James Walker

Here is how the AFC East did in ESPN.com's latest NFL Power Rankings:

New England Patriots (9-3)

Results: W, 31-24 against Indianapolis

Power Rankings: No. 6 (same)

Walker’s vote: No. 6 (same)

Analysis: The Patriots were cruising to a 31-3 lead before letting the winless Indianapolis Colts back into the game. Still, New England improved to 9-3 and currently holds the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But that wasn't nearly enough to move the Patriots up. The five teams ahead of New England all won. But the Patriots need to continue winning to try to get home-field advantage in the AFC.

New York Jets (7-5)

Results: W, 34-19 against Washington

Power Rankings: No. 11 (up four spots)

Walker’s vote: No. 12 (up four spots)

Analysis: I had a feeling New York would make a significant jump this week. The Jets aren’t winning pretty, but they’re winning. Several teams ahead of New York lost this past week. More importantly, the Jets are right in the thick of the playoff race. New York needs some help but could get it soon. The Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) hold the final wild card but play the first-place Houston Texans (9-3) this weekend. The Jets should be able to handle the Kansas City Chiefs at home on Sunday.

Buffalo Bills (5-7)

Results: L, 23-17 against Tennessee

Power Rankings: No. 20 (down one spot)

Walker’s vote: No. 22 (down one spot)

Analysis: Few teams have gone in the tank like Buffalo. The Bills dropped one more spot this week to No. 20 after their fifth straight loss. I’m surprised they didn’t fall lower. Buffalo finished two spots ahead of the Dolphins this week, which I thought was curious. Miami is clearly the better team right now and won the head-to-head meeting by a wide margin. The Bills again will be underdogs this week when they travel to play the San Diego Chargers.

Miami Dolphins (4-8)

Results: W, 34-14 against Oakland

Power Rankings: No. 22 (up four spot)

Walker’s vote: No. 20 (up four spots)

Analysis: Miami is playing great football and made one of the biggest jumps this week. It put a dent in another playoff hopeful this past Sunday by pounding the Oakland Raiders. The Dolphins are out of the playoff race, but they aren't playing like it. The Dolphins will try to stay hot in December to avoid their third consecutive losing season.