AFC East: 2013 NFL Week 17 Power Rankings

Power Ranking: No. 16 Miami Dolphins

December, 24, 2013
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A weekly examination of the Dolphins' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 20 | Last Week: 14 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

It’s been a wild, roller-coaster year for the Miami Dolphins. Yet Miami remains in postseason contention with one game remaining.

How much did Sunday’s 19-0 loss hurt Miami in ESPN.com’s latest NFL Power Rankings? The Dolphins (8-7) dropped two spots to No. 16, according to our expert panel.

There are no excuses for this ugly loss. The Dolphins were playing their best football coming into the game and faced a Buffalo team without its starting quarterback (EJ Manuel) and one of its top receivers (Steve Johnson). Rookie receiver Robert Woods also was ejected in the third quarter for throwing a punch at Miami safety Reshad Jones, but the Dolphins couldn’t take advantage.

It’s difficult for the Dolphins to get much respect in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings when they were swept by Buffalo this year. But Miami has a chance to finish above .500 for the first time since 2008 with a win Sunday over the New York Jets.

Power Rankings: No. 22 New York Jets

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
1:00
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A weekly examination of the Jets' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 32 | Last Week: 22 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Coach Rex Ryan said the Jets are an "ascending" team. Not in our Power Rankings, they're not.

Despite a fairly dominating win over the Cleveland Browns, the Jets (7-8) remained in the No. 22 spot. Evidently, the ESPN.com panel of voters is tough to please, but as we noted last week, the Jets appear to have settled into the low-20s range. All things considered, that's not bad based on their Week 1 ranking of 32nd.

If Jets owner Woody Johnson reads our Power Rankings, how could he not be impressed with Ryan's job performance?

Power Rankings: No. 23 Buffalo Bills

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
1:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Bills' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 30 | Last Week: 25 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

After their first back-to-back wins of the season, the Buffalo Bills moved up two spots in our weekly ESPN.com Power Rankings.

The Bills are now ranked No. 23, which is just shy of their high-water mark of the season (No. 20). Still, it's a good late-season run for a team that was No. 26 and at risk of sinking lower two weeks ago.

Already eliminated from the playoffs, the Bills' final task this season will be to potentially deal a blow to the New England Patriots' playoff position on Sunday. The Patriots are vying for the No. 2 seed in the AFC, but a loss could potentially drop New England's seed and force it to host a wild-card playoff game.

The Patriots come in at No. 5 in this week's rankings.

Power Rankings: No. 5 New England

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
1:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Patriots' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 6 | Last Week: 7 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The New England Patriots moved up two spots following their resounding 41-7 road win over the Baltimore Ravens. They leapfrogged the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints.

All of ESPN.com's voters slotted the Patriots at No. 5, except one, who had them at No. 6 and put the Cardinals in the No. 5 spot.

The Patriots finish the regular season against the No. 23 Bills, and as we've discussed in this space throughout the second half of the season, they are capable of beating anyone in the NFL ... and also losing to anyone in the NFL.

That's part of what has created such a wild ride for the team in 2013.

But as has been the case over the past decade-plus, the bottom line is this: They're in the mix to be No. 1 when it truly counts.

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