The New England Patriots took care of business on Sunday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs and the pollsters rewarded their performance- some more than others.
It should be no surprise that the lone undefeated team, the Los Angeles Rams, still hold the top spot in this week’s power rankings, while there appears to be a three-horse race for second place among the Patriots, New Orleans Saints (on a bye week), and...the Chiefs?
One intrepid power ranker even decided to put the Patriots behind the Minnesota Vikings for good measure.
But of the Patriots-Saints-Chiefs trio, only one placed the Patriots behind the Chiefs and I actually appreciate the sentiment. They give the Chiefs credit for taking the Patriots to the wire at Gillette Stadium without Eric Berry or Justin Houston.
In reality, the Patriots and Saints are the real favorites for the #2 spot and the Saints are coming off a bye week. New Orleans has the best offense in the league and one of the worst defenses, in a more extreme version of the Patriots’ performance this season. I’d personally take the Patriots over the Saints, but pollsters are still penalizing the Patriots for losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Detroit Lions, while the Saints only lost their opener to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Saints have a brutal stretch over the next six weeks, with games on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, and Cincinnati Bengals, while they host the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, and Atlanta Falcons. We’ll find out if they’re truly deserving of one of top rankings over the coming weeks.
Around the AFC East:
2nd - MMQB Staff (SI): Perhaps the Patriots’ three-week climb back toward the top is proof that we shouldn’t be so quick to move teams up or down. But they can’t reclaim their preseason spot at No. 1 until the Rams lose.
2nd - Experts (ESPN): Playoff chances: 89.4 percent. It looks like the only thing that could derail the Patriots’ playoff chances would be an injury to Tom Brady or his WR corps. Brady is completing 72 percent of his passes with 9.3 yards per attempt to WRs in his past three games, compared with 57 percent and 5.5 yards per attempt during his first three games.
2nd - Joe Giglio (NJ.com): The AFC still goes through the Patriots. Defense is still suspect to big talent and speed, but Tom Brady and his offensive weapons can score with anyone.
2nd - Nate Davis (USA Today): Sony Michel has little shot of overtaking Saquon Barkley in ROY race, but he does lead all first-year backs with 80 rush yards per game.
2nd - Expert Consensus (Bleacher Report): We’ve figured it out. The Patriots stumble in September to troll the media. Give us something to talk about. Or they might just be bored after owning the AFC for the last decade-and-a-half.
Either way, every time people start hand-wringing about the Pats, they wind up with egg on their faces and crow on their plate.
As the Pats demonstrated quite clearly in taking down the AFC’s last undefeated team in Week 6, they’re just fine—thank you very much. After a 1-2 start, the Pats have reeled off three straight wins, scoring at least 38 points in each.
This offense could be downright scary, as Sobleski pointed out:
”The Patriots proved they’re still the team to beat in the AFC after a Sunday night takedown of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are loaded on offense yet play little to no defense. New England may not feature the league’s best defense. However, it can at least stop someone once or twice. Plus, the Patriots offense is only going to get better as Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman become more comfortable.”
The AFC’s big bad is still both.
What a game.
2nd - Joshua Schrock (NESN): Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs shredded New England’s defense, but Brady saved the day by engineering a game-winning drive to once again assert the Patriots’ dominance in the AFC.
2nd - Rebecca Toback (SB Nation): The Patriots proved on Sunday that we were all crazy for doubting them during their 1-2 start to the season. New England beat Kansas City on Sunday Night Football in the shootout we all expected. It was a thriller that has the Patriots climbing up the Week 7 NFL power rankings and landing at the No. 2 spot, right ahead of the Chiefs. The Chiefs fought hard and almost staged an impressive comeback, but you can never count out Tom Brady and he proved to be the guy you want leading a game-winning fourth-quarter drive.
2nd - Staff (AP Pro32).
3rd - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): There were so many things to like about Sunday night’s game, but let’s not overlook kicker Stephen Gostkowski. He hit all nine kicks (five field goals, four extra points) and there was no doubt that he’d hit the game-winner as time expired. There’s something to be said about having a reliable kicker.
3rd - Mark Maske (Washington Post): Remember that 1-2 start to the season? It’s a fading memory now. The Patriots have totaled 119 points while winning their last three games. The return of Julian Edelman and the addition of Josh Gordon have fixed the problems at WR. Now comes a trip to Chicago to face a Bears defense that ranks among the league’s best but couldn’t stop Brock Osweiler on Sunday in Miami.
3rd - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): They showed they could play with anybody in the league by beating the Chiefs. Getting the running game going is big for the offense.
3rd - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Go ahead and make those reservations for Atlanta in early February.
5th - Bryan Fischer (Athlon Sports): Lost amid the furor of that wild win over the Chiefs was the fact that the Pats rushed for 173 yards. Given the limitations on defense, that’s a trend that will only help make this offense more dangerous and allow them to win shootouts and physical battles all the same.
Week 7 Average Rank: 2.5 (+1.9)
SB NATION SAMPLING:
2nd - Brandon Lee Gowton (BleedingGreenNation): Still the kings of the AFC. Bill Belichick is now 6-2 against Andy Reid.