Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Power Rankings: Patriots back in top 10
By James Walker
Thoughts of the New England Patriots' demise were greatly exaggerated.
Most people wrote off New England after its two-game losing streak and being underdogs heading into last weekend's game against the New York Jets. But Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick were masterful again in a convincing 37-16 victory.
Here is how that game and others in the AFC East impacted ESPN.com's latest Power Rankings:
New England Patriots (6-3)
Power ranking: No. 8 (up four spots)
Walker's vote: No. 8 (same)
Analysis: I refused to write off the Patriots and kept them in the top 10 last week, despite their struggles. New England dropped a whopping seven spots after back-to-back losses to two quality teams in the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots bounced back with a huge road win over the Jets that completed a season sweep and most likely clinched the AFC East division. New England has the NFL's easiest strength of schedule the rest of the way and should get hot down the stretch. The Patriots will host the Tyler Palko-led Kansas City Chiefs next on "Monday Night Football."
New York Jets (5-4)
Power ranking: No. 14 (down three spots)
Walker's vote: No. 12 (down three spots)
Analysis: The Jets had their three-game winning streak halted by the Patriots. It was a big loss, but New York has to rebound quickly with Thursday night's game against the Denver Broncos. I still like this Jets team. They have their flaws, particularly on offense. But the Jets are a tough matchup for anyone when they're clicking. The key game to watch for New York will be in two weeks against the Buffalo Bills. The Jets will be going for the sweep in what could be a playoff eliminator for one of these teams.
Buffalo Bills (5-4)
Power ranking: No. 17
Walker's vote: No. 19
Analysis: The Bills continue their dramatic slide down the Power Rankings. Buffalo was a fixture in the top 10 last month but is playing ugly football the past two weeks. Buffalo has been outscored 71-18 in losses to the Jets and Dallas Cowboys. November and December is when the good teams separate from the pack and make a push for the playoffs. The Bills aren’t stepping up but early wins still keep them in the hunt.
Miami Dolphins (2-7)
Power ranking: No. 29 (up two spots)
Walker's vote: No. 27 (up three spots)
Analysis: The Dolphins are the hottest team in the AFC East and moved up two spots. They won their second straight with a 20-9 victory over the Washington Redskins. We’ve said all season that Miami has the talent to give teams trouble. The Dolphins’ biggest issue was execution. Now that the team is executing well, it is playing closer to its potential. Miami is suddenly a dangerous opponent on Sunday for the Bills.