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Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Power Rankings: Patriots on top; Jets lag

By Tim Graham

The New England Patriots have regained authority in ESPN.com's Power Rankings.

The New York Jets, meanwhile, tumbled for a second consecutive week. They'd held a 14-spot lead over the Miami Dolphins for much of the season, but now the difference is half that.

The Buffalo Bills gave the AFC East three victories in Week 14, but they slipped for the first time in a month.

ESPN.com's influential Power Rankings consortium is comprised of senior writer John Clayton, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC West blogger Mike Sando.

1. New England Patriots

Previous rank: 2

My take: Who can argue with this placement after what we've seen? The Patriots dismantled their second straight division leader and returned to the top spot for the first time in six weeks. They'd been ranked No. 2 for the past four polls. With the way Tom Brady is conducting the offense, they look unbeatable.

9. New York Jets

Previous rank: 6

My take: The Power Rankings panel is forgiving. Last week, I wondered how the Jets could be justified in the top 10 after the Patriots utterly wiped them out. Rest assured, I don't think the Jets deserve it upon watching the Dolphins embarrass them at the Meadowlands. The Jets haven't scored a touchdown in back-to-back games and have failed to score a TD in three of their seven home games.

16. Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: 18

My take: For the sixth straight edition of the Power Rankings, the Dolphins moved at least two spots in the opposite direction from the week before. They moved up despite a mainly pathetic offensive performance because the Jets played worse. The Dolphins' defense seems to get better by the week, while their offense deteriorates.

28. Buffalo Bills

Previous rank: 27

My take: All right, this ranking makes zero sense. The Bills defeated the Cleveland Browns and dropped a spot, while the Browns remained at No. 21. The Bills were leapfrogged by the Arizona Cardinals, who beat the Denver Broncos, a team in crisis and rated lower than the Bills in last week's poll. So beat a team that's worse than Buffalo, rise up the standings. Beat a team that's six slots ahead and fall.