Ding! Ding! Ding! Brian Billick wins the Power Rankings common-sense, big-picture comment award for Week 7.
In a conference with only three teams owning winning records and nine games left to play, the AFC is still up for grabs. The Patriots (4-3) are doing their part by beating the two division teams they've faced so far - the Bills (3-4) and the Jets (3-4).
With a win against the Rams this Sunday, New England will be right back to where they were in 2011 and atop the division. Not a bad place to be at all, especially heading into their Bye week.
A few other games to keep an eye on are: Miami Dolphins (3-3) at NY Jets, New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos (3-3) and San Diego Chargers (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (1-6). The Bills, Texans (6-1) and Ravens (5-2) have their Bye.
I'm no fan of International NFL games, but when the Patriots win it's all good.
MJD Shutdown Corner (Yahoo! Sports) ranks them 6th: The people of New England realize that wins are still a good thing, right? Maybe a three-point margin of victory isn't what everyone had in mind for a home game against the Jets, but wins are wins. Exactly three teams in the AFC have winning records right now, and the Patriots are one of them. The Jets save their best shot for the Patriots twice a year. Maybe you'd rather not make Mark Sanchez look like Dan Marino, but what, you expected to magically have a dominant secondary this week?
NFL.com experts rank them 7th.
Ryan Van Bibber (SB Nation) ranks them 7th: Tom Brady needed overtime to beat the Jets, but this looks like another team ready to work past early season ups and downs.
Pro Football Talk ranks them 7th: The Pats are blowing fourth-quarter leads like it’s Super Bowl XLVI. Or Super Bowl XLII.
WEEI ranks them 7th: The Patriots pass defense is horrendous and the team’s inability to close games is certainly alarming, however if the past has taught us anything, Bill Belichick‘s team will improve. The Pats are 16-2 the last two years once November hits and are undefeated in December. This team has to get better in a lot of different areas but they have plenty of time to do so in a mediocre division.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 7th: They're atop the AFC East, but barely, with that overtime victory against the Jets. They look a little off.
National Football Post ranks them 7th: There is plenty to clean up in New England, but the Pats are still one of the favorites in a weak AFC field.
Pro Football Weekly ranks them 7th: Managed to not blow another fourth-quarter lead, barely.
Don Banks (SI) ranks them 8th: I know there must be plenty of you out there who miss Dr. Z and his weekly power ranking missives from "The Flaming Redhead," aka, his wife, Linda. As do I. I can't really compete with that, of course. My wife is a curly-haired brunette, but she does offer some NFL insights from time to time. She's convinced her Patriots never play all that well in those red-white-and-blue throwback uniforms, a point I try to counter by noting they have a winning record wearing the retro-cool Mr. Pat Patriot on their helmets. No matter. She knows what she knows. And she prefers the Flying Elvis look and logo. Case closed.
ESPN ranks them 8th: New England plays the Rams after losing its first two games against NFC West teams, Arizona and Seattle.
Peter King (SI) ranks them 8th: I don't like putting them two spots ahead of Seattle and one spot ahead of Baltimore -- two teams that have beaten the Patriots in the last month. And I didn't love what I saw in the win over the Jets. But it goes back to feeling the Patriots would beat either team today on a neutral field in Wichita.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 8th: Big playmaker: WR Wes Welker. The Patriots really haven’t been able to hit home runs with Tom Brady this season, so it’s back to Welker as their wideout source of long gains, either on deep patterns or with yards after the catch.
Brian Billick (Fox Sports) ranks them 9th: Some are saying the Patriots are just an average team right now, but I see a team that has three losses by a combined four points, and last I checked, Tom Brady is still the QB.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 9th: The Patriots survived the Jets -- that's the best way to put it. Among the league's best teams, they are the weakest -- making them the perfect nine-hole hitter. Did you know Kevin Elster once knocked in 99 runs from the ninth spot in the Texas Rangers' order? The Pats share something in common in with those little Texas Rangers in that they both let a championship slip right through their fingers last season. Let's hope the 2012 incarnation of New England doesn't falter as badly as Texas did this season. With the Rams in London, then the Bills and Colts at home, there's no reason the Patriots can't be 7-3 before facing the Jets again.
Cold Hard Football Facts ranks them 10th: Boy, did the Pats need that one. Maybe Bill Belichick was toying with Rex Ryan, but the Jets taking New England to overtime almost put New York atop the AFC East. Come on, Bill, the AFC is in bad enough shape as it is.
AVERAGE RANK: 7.6 (+1.1)