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Week 14 Patriots Power Rankings

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Check out what the ‘experts’ are saying about the Patriots heading into Week 14

Minnesota Vikings v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Mama was right. Patience is a virtue.

Not only was patience an effective game plan vs. the Vikings on Sunday, but it works as a rule in general for Pats fans, NFL talking heads, and the sports writers who cover the team. Everyone doing their own version of Trent Dilfer’s “They’re not good anymore” and pushing the panic button at 1-2 — back in September! — would do well to heed Mom’s advice in the future.

Those who patiently decided to wait out the dire reports of imminent doom at Gillette are being vindicated. Whatever tension there may have been between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were worked out privately or shelved. It neither caused the team to spectacularly implode (the media’s hoped-for response) nor fade into mediocrity. Turns out all the attention was focused on the wrong locker room, the wrong quarterback and the wrong head coach. The unrest was going on for real in Green Bay, with all the power plays, firings and implosions the media kept threatening would happen in Foxborough. Not so fast. Remember Mama’s advice.

This week the Patriots head to Miami for what Tedy Bruschi used to call a “hat and t-shirt” game. With a win, the AFC East division title can be wrapped up and brought back as a souvenir. The Dolphins are only one game behind the Ravens and still alive for a playoff spot, so the Pats can’t let up on the gas. They won’t. It’s December, Pats win by 14.

GO PATS!

Around the AFC East:

(9-3) New England Patriots at (6-6) Miami Dolphins

(4-8) Buffalo Bills vs. (3-9) New York Jets

AFC Matchups:

(10-2) Kansas City Chiefs vs. (7-5) Baltimore Ravens

(9-3) Houston Texans vs. (6-6) Indianapolis Colts

(7-4-1) Pittsburgh Steelers at (2-10) Oakland Raiders

(9-3) Los Angeles Chargers vs. (5-7) Cincinnati Bengals

(6-6) Tennessee Titans vs. (4-8) Jacksonville Jaguars

(6-6) Denver Broncos at (2-10) San Francisco 49ers

(4-7-1) Cleveland Browns vs. (6-6) Carolina Panthers

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2nd - Expert Consensus (Bleacher Report): There are a couple of constants about the New England Patriots late in the season. The first is they don’t lose much. The second is that even when they do, it certainly isn’t at Gillette Stadium. Sure enough, both were on display in Week 13, as the Patriots dominated the second half to pull away from the Minnesota Vikings and inch closer to winning their umpteenth straight AFC East title. The game was classic Patriots—methodical, efficient offense and an opportunistic, bend-but-don’t-break defense. Death by a thousand cuts. To Gagnon, the Patriots are doing what they always do—peaking at the right time: “New England always starts slow, gets hot, suffers a weird aberrational loss just before the home stretch and then becomes unbeatable. Seriously, it’s happened in each of their last three Super Bowl seasons, and it looks as though that’s happening right now. The Pats are so well-coached, they’re balanced and they’re benefiting from a lot of depth up front and at the skill positions. That keeps snap counts low, which is why they’re getting healthier just as everyone else in football is running out of gas.” Of course, the Patriots have little interest in just winning the division. Anything less than a trip to Super Bowl LIII would be considered a failure in Beantown. And that means that the next step after winning the East is sewing up one of the top two seeds in the AFC bracket and a first-round bye. The biggest obstacle to that goal comes in two weeks, when the Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.

2nd - Mark Maske (Washington Post): While Coach Bill Belichick yelled from the sideline Sunday at Vikings WR Adam Thielen, the Patriots reminded everyone that they’re still the team to beat in the AFC. They haven’t been consistently great this season, but they still have Tom Brady. No one else does, and now, the Chiefs are in flux.

3rd - MMQB Staff (SI).

3rd - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): Call Sunday’s victory a gut-it-out win. The offense milled about without putting points on the board ... until it mattered. Tom Brady engineered two late scoring drives, with Josh Gordon paying off the first and fullback James Develin completing the second, while the defense battened down the hatches, closing off in the fourth quarter whatever leaks sprung early in the third. The Pats stopped Kirk Cousins on downs when the game was in doubt, then secured an interception late to preserve the two-score victory. Top moment: Brady, who reached 1,000 career rushing yards with a 5-yard scamper early, pulled a savvy self-preservation act late. Needing to kneel down at the end of the game, Brady made sure to step forward, then point to the ref as if to show he reached the line of scrimmage. Hall of Famers know their stats, apparently -- even the oddities.

3rd - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): It’s December, so here come the Patriots. The defense is improving by the week.

3rd - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots went back to dominating at home with Tom Brady seeing things fully loaded around him for run and pass. But how about that defense coming through so big, too?

3rd - Nate Davis (USA Today): Tom Brady exposed as me-first guy. See his forward-leaning kneeldown in order to protect 1,000 career rushing yards? (We kid, we kid.)

4th - Experts (ESPN): We’re (almost) No. 1 in: Kickoff return average. Led by Cordarrelle Patterson, who has returned 19 kickoffs for 580 yards (30.5 avg.) and one touchdown, the Patriots are topped by just one other team (the Titans) in kickoff return average. Patterson’s 95-yard kickoff return for a TD against the Chiefs was one of the signature plays of the Patriots’ season, and Tom Brady has nicknamed him “The Experiment” because of all the things the team has explored with him on offense, in addition to his kickoff return expertise.

4th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): The Patriots have been a different team at home. They’re 6-0 at home and 3-3 on the road with three double-digit losses to questionable teams (Jaguars, Lions, Titans). Meanwhile they have four double-digit wins at home and close wins against the Texans and Chiefs, and they’re both first-place teams. What seed the Patriots end up with could determine if we’re spending another Super Bowl Sunday with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

4th - Joe Giglio (NJ.com): Don’t be surprised if the Patriots are back on the Super stage in February.

4th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): After making it to 1,000 career rushing yards, Tom Brady will be sending his ski boots to Canton.

4th - Staff (AP Pro32).

5th - Bryan Fischer (Athlon Sports): It always feels like the Patriots really start to ramp things up when the calendar turns to December and that could be the case once again after an impressive victory over the Vikings that showcased the versatility of the offense against a tough front. Congrats to Bill Belichick on his 250th win with the franchise, sure to be just one of several more in Foxborough.

5th - Ryan Van Bibber (SB Nation): My favorite team is the best team. That’s a pretty good way to start the power rankings this week.

I put the Patriots up there too, and it’s mostly just an appreciation for the purely transactional relationship Bill Belichick has with winning. It’s how I prefer to interact with waiters or investment advisors — just take my money and give me the most I can get for what I’m paying for. It’s not always terribly fun, but it works.

5th - Russell S. Baxter (FanSided): Recap: The Patriots ... made it five in a row [vs. Vikings] with an impressive win when it came to both sides of the football. Tom Brady did throw as many TD passes (1) as INTs. But he also totaled 311 yards through the air and completed 75 percent of his tosses (24-of-32). Bill Belichick’s backfield by committee continues to get the job done as the club rolled up 160 yards on the ground, with James Develin scoring twice. And the Pats limited the Vikings to 278 total yards.

Next Week: The club heads to South Florida to face the 6-6 Miami Dolphins ... [Pats are] 1-4 in its last five road games in this series dating back to 2013.

Playoff hopes: The team is closing in on a 10th straight division title (extending their own NFL record), which the Patriots will have with a win over the Dolphins. That means this talented club would be in the playoffs for a 10th consecutive year – making New England the first franchise in the league to achieve that feat.

Week 14 Average Rank: 3.6 (+0.7)