Oddest thing. The Patriots continue to grind out wins - three in a row and four out of their last five - but the Power Rankings continue to knock them down a few percentage points.
One of the weirdest rationales for this can be found from SB Nation. They discount the Pats last three wins because they were against the Bills, Rams and Jets. Fine. But Denver is moved up two points because Manning is 'playing some of his best football' these last few weeks. Which defensive powerhouses is he referring to? Oh, right, the Panthers, Bengals and Saints. Sound reasoning there buddy. Plus they're slotted three spots ahead of New England, the team that gave Denver their last loss. Manning-love is a hard habit to break I guess, and its only going to get worse once you take a glimpse at the rest of the Bronco's schedule.
Any-hoo, the Patriots (6-3) resting between six and nine in most of the national rankings still sounds about right to me. Maybe a win Sunday over the newest phenom, Andrew Luck and the Colts (6-3), will stop the slide. I'm not holding my breath.
Let's look around the AFC to check out the competition in Week 11.
Thursday night Miami (4-5) will be in Buffalo (3-6) for an AFC East division matchup, with both teams coming off a loss (heh, heh) after a short week. The New York Jets (3-6) travel to St. Louis (3-5-1) to take on the Rams.
The Houston Texans (8-1) will hogtie the Jaguars (1-8) in Jacksonville. The league-darling Broncos (6-3) host the Chargers (4-5) at Mile High, and Sunday night's matchup will be Baltimore (7-2) at Pittsburgh (6-3) with Byron Leftwich replacing Ben Roethlisberger. Lucky break for the Ravens.
Lots of great football ahead. Go Pats!
Shutdown Corner (Yahoo! Sports) ranks them 6th: If anyone was still wondering why the Patriots made the low-risk trade to acquire Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday's white-knuckle 37-31 win over the Buffalo Bills should clear things up. New England allowed 481 yards of offense and 35 first downs and gave the Bills an opportunity to win the game on the final possession. The players and coaching staff will need to be much better this week with Andrew Luck and the Colts coming to town.
Pro Football Weekly ranks them 6th: Welker has had his fair share of big drops this season.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 6th: The defense continues to be a major problem. That unit isn't good enough to win a title -- not even with Tom Brady. The defense has to improve.
WEEI ranks them 6th: It’s hard to see this Patriots team make the Super Bowl if the defense continues to play this poorly. There are too many good quarterbacks in the AFC who are capable of exposing the Pats D in the playoffs. One positive about this defense is that it is very opportunistic. New England leads the league in turnover ratio with a +16.
Don Banks (SI) ranks them 7th: The Pats know how to make it exciting, eh? Even at Gillette. You can't really leave early to beat the traffic on Route 1, or you just might miss Devin McCourty making a game-saving interception in the end zone or something. This week, in the game I'll cover in Foxboro, we get our first Andrew Luck-Tom Brady matchup, in a battle of No. 12-wearing quarterbacks with franchises on their shoulders. We can only hope it lives up to the Colts-Patriots rivalry of the past decade-plus.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 7th: Bill Belichick has to shore up the New England Patriots' defense. The unit produced three takeaways on Sunday -- huge turnovers -- but this defense still gets destroyed, particularly the back four. New England will win the AFC East, but as we look ahead towards the playoffs, big plays allowed in the passing game might be this team's undoing. Sound familiar?
Pro Football Talk ranks them 7th: If this team keeps blowing fourth-quarter leads in the regular season, it may not have to worry about blowing another fourth-quarter lead in the Super Bowl.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 8th: With Brandon Lloyd outside and Rob Gronkowski off the line, Welker has a lot of room to work in the slot. He could end up leading the league in receptions for the fourth time, but it still may not be enough to convince the Patriots to pay him in 2013.
Patriots Football Weekly ranks them 8th.
National Football Post ranks them 8th: The Patriots put up big offensive numbers against the Bills—again.
NFL.com experts rank them 8th.
The AP Pro32 ranks them 8th.
ESPN ranks them 8th: The Patriots have won five of their past six games and have scored more than 30 points four times during that hot streak.
Joel Thorman (SB Nation) ranks them 9th: Winners of three in a row, but that came against the Jets, Rams and Bills. Games against the Colts, Jets and Dolphins are all winnable before they face Houston in Week 14.
Peter King (SI) ranks them 9th: Still a generous defense, but as long as the Patriots keep scoring in the 30s every week, the wins will keep coming. They'll get in trouble for it in January, though. Opposing passers have produced more touchdowns than Tom Brady, 19-18.
Brian Billick (Fox Sports) ranks them 9th: The Bills game was closer than I expected, but the Pats never trailed and are now winners of three in a row for the first time this season. The Patriots were able to force three turnovers while not committing any of their own . . . the difference in the game.
Cold Hard Football Facts ranks them 11th: The Pats are on a three-game winning streak and haven't lost after Week 9 since 2009. That said, it may be a difficult streak to sustain with a defense that is No. 28 in Defensive Passer Rating.
AVERAGE RANK: 7.7 (- .04)