A weekly examination of the Patriots' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 6 | Last Week: 4 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Patriots remain in the No. 4 spot for the third straight week. They trail the Seahawks, Broncos and Saints in the rankings. A look at the voting shows that they received two third-place votes, one fourth-place vote, one fifth-place vote and two sixth-place votes.
Are they really the fourth-best team in the NFL?
I think it's generous right now, especially after the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski to a season-ending knee injury. But that doesn't mean the chances of being No. 1 when it counts most are necessarily eliminated.
The Patriots are in the hunt, and that's all most teams can ask for at this time of year. This is a week for them to recalibrate and, first and foremost, clinch the AFC East championship (which happens with a victory). Then the focus could intensify on potential playoff positioning.
The Patriots' remaining games are on the road against the Dolphins (16) and Ravens (14) before the season finale at home against the Bills (26).