Cue "The Jefferson's" theme song: Well we're movin' on up. To the high side. To that de-luxe ranking in the top five...
Big win Sunday! The Patriots beat a legit opponent and a quality quarterback (hear that 'experts'?) and were rewarded with a bump up in the rankings a notch or two. New England now holds sole possession of first place in the AFC East. They face a hot Seahawks (3-2) team in Seattle Sunday. A win out west, against a team with the best-ranked defense in the league, would be sure to bump them up even higher next week.
The rest of the division sits at 2-3. The Jets made a valiant effort on Monday Night Football, only to lose to the undefeated Houston Texans - who didn't look as scary as their 5-0 record suggests. NY faces the Indianapolis Colts (2-2) at home this week.
Pro Football Talk ranks them 4th: Despite being 3-2, this could be the best Pats team since the last Pats team that won a Super Bowl.
National Football Post ranks them 5th: With the production in the running game, the Patriots might be the toughest offense in the NFL to game plan for.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 5th: Reports of Welker's demise as their "slot machine" were greatly exaggerated. His ability to make the quick catches underneath is keeping Tom Brady in rhythm, as usual.
NFL.com experts rank them 5th.
Pro Football Weekly ranks them 5th: NFL’s top offense balances up-tempo with power run game.
ESPN ranks them 5th: New England's offense looks like the 2007 version. Patriots' last two games: 83 points, 10 touchdowns, two field goals.
The AP Pro32 ranks them 5th.
Don Banks (SI) ranks them 5th: Whenever you conjure up memories of the 1978 Patriots -- the most productive rushing team in NFL history with 3,165 yards -- you know you've done something significant in the ground game. New England just ran for 247 yards against the Bills and 251 more against the Broncos, its first back-to-back 200-yard rushing games since the days of Chuck Fairbanks, Sam "Bam" Cunningham and Horace Ivory. And I'm pretty sure the Patriots can still do a little damage in the passing game, too.
WEEI ranks them 5th: As long as the defense remains opportunistic, the Patriots will continue to roll. The defense has forced key turnovers in crucial moments throughout the season. A solid give-away/take-away ratio is usually a great indicator of how good a team really is and the Pats and the Falcons top the NFL with a +10.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 5th: Does anybody think they won't cruise to the division title? They have righted things in a big way.
Brian Billick (Fox Sports) ranks them 5th: The Patriots had 251 yards rushing on Sunday against the Broncos and converted 64.7 percent of their 17 third-down attempts. When the offense is rolling like that, you are lucky to even be within striking distance. It will only get better when TE Aaron Hernandez returns to the lineup.
MJD Shutdown Corner (Yahoo! Sports) ranks them 5th: The Patriots are thinned out at receiver and tight end because of injuries, but the offense seems as beastly as it's ever been. Steven Ridley is on pace for 1,568 yards, which would pretty much make him the Patriots' best running back since Curtis Martin. And the guy behind him on the depth chart, Brandon Bolden, actually has a better yards-per-carry average. Tom Brady with quality young running backs almost seems unfair.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 6th: Bill Belichick made his intentions clear on Sunday: He will employ whichever running back feels right -- not just game to game, but play to play. Steven Ridley gained over 100 yards again, and yet Brandon Bolden, Danny Woodhead and even Shane Vereen got some run in a win over the Denver Broncos. It will be interesting to see how many carries Ridley gets this week in Seattle -- that's not a team you can afford to turn the ball over against.
Joel Thurman (SB Nation) ranks them 6th: Back in first place with the No. 1 offense in the NFL. Looking at their schedule, I can see them winning every game until December.
Peter King (SI) ranks them 7th: Remember when Wes Welker was being phased out? Last three games: 30 catches, 375 yards.
Cold Hard Football Facts ranks them 7th: Why should opponents fear the 3-2 Patriots? It looks as if they now have a rushing attack. New England is averaging 165.4 rushing yards per game and is tied for No. 1 in CHFF's Offensive Hog Index.
AVERAGE RANK: 5.3 (+0.9)