BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots didn’t play last weekend, enjoying their well-earned bye week. But that doesn’t mean their spot in the power rankings was secure.
When teams go idle, they run the risk of dropping in the power rankings, as other teams can take the field and showcase their abilities. The Chiefs — who demolished the Raiders on Sunday — certainly did that, and as a result, they’ve jumped past the Patriots in some rankings.
At the same time, the week off somehow boosted the Patriots in some rankings, as you’ll see below.
The Patriots were the fourth-ranked team heading into their bye, but they emerged one spot lower, with the Chiefs using their 48-9 win over the Raiders to seize the No. 4 position.
“New England has the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense (allowing just 15.4 points per game) and the No. 3 total defense (just 310.0 yards per game allowed). The numbers are even better during the team’s seven-game winning streak: Opponents have averaged just over 10 points per game, with the Pats forcing at least one turnover in every one of those contests,” Dan Hanzus wrote. “Come January, Belichick might be in possession of the only defense in football that counts as a true difference-maker. This could prove to be advantageous.”
After the Chiefs and Patriots, the next AFC team is the Colts, at No. 8. They’ll host the Patriots on Saturday night.
The Patriots dropped a spot during their bye week, getting leapfrogged by the Chiefs. Hard to compete with a team that wins by 39 points when you don’t have your own game.
ESPN’s FPI rankings have the Patriots with the No. 1 defense and No. 3 on special teams, but they’re No. 16 on offense.
Tom Brady and the Bucs are in the No. 1 spot, ahead of Arizona (No. 2) and Green Bay (No. 3).
The Ringer: 3rd
The bye week didn’t hurt the Patriots in The Ringer’s rankings, with the Patriots actually moving up a spot from last week.
The Pats are behind the Bucs and Packers but ahead of the fourth-ranked Chiefs.
Sports Illustrated: 6th
The Patriots dropped out of of the top five during their bye week in SI’s rankings, where the Chiefs are now at No. 2.
“Their rematch against Buffalo the day after Christmas is the lone remaining hurdle on a schedule that will finish with games against the Jaguars and Dolphins,” Conor Orr wrote. “Don’t sleep on this Saturday night tilt against the Colts, which could see Bill Belichick’s defense tested more seriously than it has been in months.”
USA Today: 3rd
Here’s an interesting twist: The Patriots actually moved up a spot during their bye week, going from No. 4 to No. 3. Nate Davis seems optimistic regarding the Patriots’ chances to win in Indy: “The last time they lost to Indianapolis was 2009, when Bill Belichick’s failed gamble on fourth-and-2 led to Peyton Manning’s game-winning TD. Sunday, New England will try to run its streak over the Horseshoes to nine in its first encounter with the Jonathan Taylor-Carson Wentz tandem.”
The Chiefs are at No. 4, while the Titans (8), Colts (9) and Chargers (10) fill out the top 10 for AFC teams.
CBS Sports: 3rd
The Patriots moved up a spot here, despite an idle Week 14.
“They come off their bye as the top seed in the AFC facing a tough road game at Indianapolis against the Colts,” Pete Prisco wrote. “Bill Belichick for NFL Coach of the Year.”
Here, the Patriots are only behind the Packers and Bucs, and they’re two spots ahead of the fifth-ranked Chiefs.