BOSTON (CBS) — It wasn’t all that long ago that the New England Patriots were considered the cream of the crop in the AFC, regarded as one of the best teams in the NFL with legitimate Super Bowl hopes. How are they viewed now that they’ve lost two straight games, dropped from second to sixth in the conference, and lost their grip on the AFC East?
That’s the question this week as we cruise around the internet to see where the Patriots stand in power rankings.
As a reminder, the Patriots ranked between third and sixth in all major power rankings prior to playing in Indy in Week 15.
Here’s where they stand heading into Week 17.
The Patriots dropped a spot after their loss to Buffalo, with the Bills jumping up two spots to sit at No. 7.
“In the end, maybe the difference between the top two teams in the AFC East is that one has Josh Allen and the other doesn’t,” Dan Hanzus wrote. “Back-to-back losses to the Colts and Bills make you wonder if New England is simply a step behind the true Super Bowl contenders in the AFC.”
Among AFC teams, the Patriots rank behind the Chiefs (No. 2), Colts (No. 5), and Bills (No. 7).
The Patriots dropped a whopping four spots after losing to the Bills, after staying at fifth following the Colts loss.
The Chiefs rank No. 1 in ESPN’s power rankings, with AFC teams Indianapolis (No. 6), Buffalo (No. 7) and interestingly Tennessee (No. 8) sitting above the Patriots well.
The Ringer: 10th
The Patriots have dropped out of “The Top Shelf” tier and placed among “The Contenders” by The Ringer’s Danny Kelly.
The Chiefs (No. 1), Colts (No. 6), Bills (No. 7), Bengals *(No. 8), and Titans (No. 9) rank higher than the Patriots in the AFC.
Sports Illustrated: 9th
Sports Illustrated was the least impressed with the Patriots two weeks ago, ranking them sixth when other outlets had them as high as third. So they haven’t fallen too precipitously.
“Two straight losses have taken some shine off the Patriots’ season, after people were calling them the best team in the AFC for a bit,” Mitch Goldich wrote. “I don’t think they ever were, though of course it’s easier to say that now. Anyway, I’ll put them one spot below the Bills, whom they lost to this week, and one spot ahead of the Titans, whom they beat convincingly in late November.”
USA Today: 8th
The Patriots dropped a spot with USA Today, and the Bills jumped up from No. 10 to No. 7.
“Matt Judon landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and QB Mac Jones has been on the reserve/rookie jitters list all month,” Nate Davis wrote. “New England, which hosts Jacksonville next, is still likely to limp into postseason, but [the] team has bled off significant momentum.”
CBS Sports: 10th
The Pats were ranked third by CBS two weeks ago but have fallen off a cliff after their two straight losses.
“They have gone from the top seed to a wild card team in two weeks,” Pete Prisco said. “There has to be concern about their passing game.”