We're No. 1.3! We're No. 1.3!
There may still be a couple of openings for the latecomers to jump aboard the bandwagon (I'm looking at YOU Patriots Football Weekly and Cold Hard Football Facts), but for the most part the Patriots have been hoisted high on top of the Rankings this week. Rightfully so after the spectacular way they schooled the No. 1 seed in the AFC Monday night for another prime-time, beat-down. Good things come in threes, as the saying goes, so I'm looking for the Patriots' third showing of prime-time dominance Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) at Gillette. As good a reason as any, eh?
Let's check out the Week 15 competition around the AFC. The NY Jets (6-7) travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans (4-9). The Buffalo Bills (5-8) host the Seattle Seahawks (8-5). Miami Dolphins (5-8) play the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) at Sun Life Stadium.
One of the biggest conference games is between two division leaders, the Denver Broncos (10-3) and the Baltimore Ravens (9-4) in Baltimore. The Indianapolis Colts (9-4) travel to Houston to play their division rival Texans (11-2). Finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) will play the Cowboys in Dallas (7-6).
Peter King (SI) ranks them 1st: Patriots' scoring output in their last six games: 242 points. Seahawks' scoring output in first 12 games of season: 242 points.
Pro Football Talk ranks them 1st: Finally, the rest of the PFT power rankings poll agrees with the boss. Nice to see you guys finally come around.
USA Today ranks them 1st: Prime-time players. After dominating the Texans on Monday, host the 49ers on Sunday night.
Don Banks (SI) ranks them 1st: We really should have seen the 28-point beatdown of Houston coming. The Pats absolutely hate playing second fiddle to anyone -- especially their easily slighted veteran quarterback -- and the on-their-way-up Texans qualified as the NFL's flavor of the month. And besides that, New England hasn't lost a December home game since 2002, is 21-0 in the second half of the regular season the past three years, and is now 7-0 since being nipped on the road in Seattle in Week 6. It was all there. Supreme motivation. Check. Historical patterns. Check. Prime time butt-kicking of potential AFC title game opponent. Check.
Pro Football Weekly ranks them 1st: Brady works his magic as Pats make a statement on "MNF."
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 1st: Hall of Fame watch: QB Tom Brady. If he gets another ring at age 35, there will be some calling Brady—who has already been to five Super Bowls and won three—the greatest of all time. His work against the Texans was just more Canton-worthy evidence.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 1st: Is there any doubt who is the league's best team right now? Tom Brady and an improving defense are it.
NFL.com experts rank them 1st.
Shutdown Corner (Yahoo! Sports) ranks them 1st: The Patriots have claimed the top spot in Shutdown Corner's power rankings after they dismantled the previous No. 1 team, the Texans, 42-14 on "Monday Night Football." That blowout win was a loud statement to the rest of the conference that the AFC will go through Foxboro.
Joel Thorman (SB Nation) ranks them 1st: Your new No. 1. The Patriots have now won seven straight. They're scoring 36 (!!) points per game, they're in the top 10 rushing and passing the ball, and they just beat our previous No. 1 team by four touchdowns. If you're into testing teams to see how good they really are, the Patriots play another elite defense in San Francisco next week.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 1st: Tell me the New England Patriots didn't look like the best team in pro football Monday night. The 10-3 record might not say it -- two other teams sit at 11-2 -- but I've seen enough. How about you?
ESPN ranks them 1st: It seems like old times. Tom Brady is looking like the front-runner for MVP, and the Patriots are looking like the favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Brian Billick (Fox Sports) ranks them 1st: With their 10th consecutive 10-win season, the Patriots sent a very clear message on Monday night. They are the class of the NFL and are just now hitting their championship stride.
National Football Post ranks them 1st: Brady and the Pats put on a clinic last night when they whipped up on the Texans.
WEEI ranks them 1st: The Patriots defense did what it had to do. Improve. Bill Belichick‘s D held the Texans to just 14 points. The only other team in the league that was able to hold Houston to fewer points was the Bears. Under Tom Brady, the Pats have won a remarkable 20 straight home games in the month of December. Super Bowl caliber teams get better in December and that’s just what New England is doing once again.
Patriots Football Weekly ranks them 2nd.
Cold Hard Football Facts ranks them 5th: Yeah, this team is in that mode. You know, the mode that has led the Patriots to a 38-3 record in December since 2002. The big win goes a long way in keeping the No. 2 seed in their hands and brings them one step closer to home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
AVERAGE RANK: 1.3 (+ 1.5)