AFC East: 2013 NFL Week 18 Power Rankings

Power Rankings: No. 25 Buffalo Bills

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Bills' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 30 | Last Week: 23 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

There was some progress.

Despite finishing with a 6-10 record and in last place in the AFC East -- the same way they ended last season -- our ESPN.com Power Rankings contend that the Buffalo Bills are in a better place now than they were at the start of the season.

The Bills' preseason Power Ranking placed them at No. 30. Their final Power Ranking has them at No. 25. There's a good consensus among our voters, too: All six voters placed the Bills between No. 24 and No. 27.

The No. 25 mark, however, is still off the Bills' high-water mark of the season, which came in Week 9, when they were ranked No. 20. That's understandable, too. The Bills went 3-5 in the second half of the season and have plenty of questions entering next season.

We'll have to wait and see where the Bills are ranked next preseason, but for the next several months, No. 25 will be their spot.

Power Rankings: No. 5 New England

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Patriots' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 6 | Last Week: 5 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The New England Patriots finish the regular season where they started it in the Power Rankings: at No. 5.

That speaks to an overall theme of "consistency" with this franchise in Bill Belichick's 14-year tenure. As is always the case, there are ups and downs in every season, but the Patriots generally keep meeting expectations, which is hard to do.

Five of the six voters had the Patriots fifth. One voter had them sixth, with the Cardinals ranked ahead of them in the No. 5 spot.

From a big-picture standpoint, the Patriots were as high as No. 4 this season. Their biggest dip came in late October, when they were ranked No. 9 following a loss to the Jets and a comeback win over the Dolphins.

I'd venture a guess that there are only a few teams in the NFL with such little fluctuation over the course of the 16-game regular season.

That's a credit to the day-in and day-out approach of the staff and the players. The Patriots were in every game with a chance to win. Now they need three more wins to accomplish the ultimate goal to be No. 1 when it truly counts.

Power Rankings: No. 19 New York Jets

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
12:30
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Jets' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

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

The Jets' Power Ranking was a mini-story all season because, as you probably know, Rex Ryan used the team's Week 1 ranking (32nd) as motivation, showing it to the players on the eve of the opener. During good times, that dead-last ranking was mentioned in interviews, mostly by Ryan and linebacker Calvin Pace, both of whom used it as fodder to mock critics. Funny, but it never came up during their three-game losing streak. We here at ESPN.com are glad that our power poll became part of the fabric of the Jets' season.

Based on the final ranking, you'd have to say the Jets were a success in 2013. Of course, it depends on your perspective. They climbed as high as 12th, coming off their upset of New Orleans in Week 9. So if you want to take the half-empty view, you might say they plummeted seven spots over a 3-4 finish.

How do we feel? We'll go with the old Bill Parcells saying: You are what your ESPN.com Power Ranking says you are.

Or something like that.

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