The good news is that last week the Patriots were only mostly dead. Lucky for fans, they found their heartbeat at just the right time -- at home, in prime time, against the undefeated Bengals. Now it's on to Buffalo and the first of two ever-important division games in a row.
Sunday's matchup will decide first place in the AFC East. A Miami win at home against Green Bay would keep them in the mix as contenders, while the last place Jets are playing Denver. Odds are they will be keeping a firm hold on the bottom of the division for now. Plenty of good games to keep an eye on this week.
Around the AFC East:
Miami (2-2) vs. Green Bay (3-2) -- NY Jets (1-4) vs. Denver (4-1) -- New England (3-2) at Buffalo (3-2)
Notable AFC Matchups:
San Diego (4-1) at Oakland (0-4)
Indianapolis (3-2) at Houston (3-2)
Cincinnati (3-1) vs. Carolina (3-2)
Pittsburgh (3-2) at Cleveland (2-2)
Baltimore (3-2) at Tampa Bay (1-4)
Tennessee (1-4) at Jacksonville (0-5)
Nate Silver (FiveThirtyEight) ranks them 5th using its Elo Ratings.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 7th: The reports of Tom Brady’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. When he’s getting help from formation, blocking and other personnel, playing quarterback at a high level gets easier. That Bengals breakout was needed. What’s next: at Buffalo, a battle for first place in the AFC East.
Pat Kirwan (CBS Sports) ranks them 7th: So I guess the Patriots and Tom Brady aren't over the hill. They just dropped a cool 43 points on the formerly undefeated Bengals. It's time to stop listening to all the predictions that Brady is going anywhere except back to the playoffs.
Andy Hart (Patriots Football Weekly) ranks them 8th using the Wilson-Hart power index.
Hank Gola (NY Daily News) ranks them 9th: All it took was one game for all to be right again.
Peter King (The MMQB) ranks them 9th: Maybe the craziest bookend week of the Belichick Era. It began with a 41-14 loss at Kansas City that may not have been that close, and wound its way through a week of press-conference mayhem, went "on to Cincinnati" and the Patriots dominated the last unbeaten team in football Sunday night, 43-17. Football is a funny game.
Joe Fortenbaugh (Nat'l Football Post) ranks them 9th.
Patrick Imig (Cold Hard Football Facts) ranks them 10th using their Quality Stats rankings. The Week 5 performance halted Brady's streak of six games with less than 250 yards passing. It also served notice that Brady's demise and frustration with the organization have been greatly exaggerated. New England churned out 82 plays, rushed for more than 200 yards and embarrassed the previously unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals, a team that sat atop our Quality Stats Power Rankings for two weeks (though one was result of a bye).
USA Today ranks them 10th: Blah, blah Brady. How about the run game's 220 yards, or the three takeaways, or the job Darrelle Revis did on A.J. Green?
Mark Maske (Washington Post) ranks them 10th: So which is the real Tom Brady in 2014? The efficient QB of Sunday night against the Bengals or the one who looked like a shadow of his former self six days earlier? The answer probably is something in between. Brady spent years elevating Patriots’ offenses with less-than-overwhelming talent around him. He probably can’t do that any more at age 37, at least not on a consistent basis. But he still can play well, especially when he receives the sort of help he received against Cincinnati. One can only guess that the Patriots by now are on to Buffalo.
The AP Pro32 ranks them 11th.
Tom Layberger (Masslive) ranks them 11th: All those who thought the Pats would drop below .500 with a loss to Cincy raise your hand. Come on, don't hold back. Get those hands high in the air. The Patriots did not simply rebound. Rather, they entirely turned the tables following a Monday night flameout at K.C. See what a dominant running game can do?
Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports) ranks them 11th: Two important things need to be mentioned, in addition to the Tom Brady love: Rob Gronkowski looked like himself on Sunday night, and the Patriots are a different team when they can run the ball like that.
ESPN Experts rank them 11th: The Patriots gained 505 yards of offense and dropped 43 points on the previously undefeated Bengals. Getting time to throw proved reports of Tom Brady's demise were somewhat exaggerated.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 11th: If one more announcer says, "So the sky isn't falling after all" ... First off, the sky was never falling. And theoretically, the sky can't fall. If it could, we would demand that New England go back to the Pat Patriot uniforms and the Red Sox retire Marty Barrett's No. 17. People hissed at the No. 18 ranking last week. We gave the Pats a solid surge here for wasting last week's top team, but No. 11 is as far as we go. New England had failed to impress in any game this season before Sunday night, and was finding the going rough when there was no Matt Cassel around to gift-wrap four interceptions. All that said, what an impressive win. The Pats shut out Cincinnati on third down (0-for-7) and put up over two bills on the ground. Next up: at Buffalo, with first place in the AFC East on the line.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 12th: So much for the thinking Tom Brady is done. He put that to rest against the Bengals.
Josh Sanchez (Fansided) ranks them 12th.
Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) ranks them 12th: The real Patriots fall somewhere between 41-14 and 43-17.
Chris Burke (SI) ranks them 12th: Yes, yes, Tom Brady still has something left and all. But the real excitement for New England out of Week 5 should come from seeing Rob Gronkowski lookin' all Gronky with a 100-yard game and from shut-down cornerback Darrelle Revis corralling A.J. Green.
Danny Kelly (SB Nation) ranks them 13th.
Dan Schneier (Fox Sports) ranks them 15th: Only in the NFL can a team get blown out by a team with a losing record and then follow it up by blowing out the only remaining undefeated team. Brady took advantage of the short and intermediate passing zones early and often against a Bengals linebacker corps that didn’t have the personnel to cover both Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright. The Patriots made big plays on special teams and defense, and both seem to be the constant in their wins this season.
AVERAGE RANK: 10.2 (+4.2)