It's here! No, not the NFL season. Even better, it's Power Ranking Season.
Despite teams not being anywhere close to their final regular-season composition, power rankings are already flying around like a stray frisbee on a college quad. For all the drama that power rankings can stir up, Peter King's first 2022 NFL power rankings ahead of OTAs are actually non-controversial and, all things considered, fair.
The New England Patriots come into the rankings at No. 17 - and this actually makes sense. The Patriots originally had the 21st overall draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, which means they ended the season as the No. 12-ranked team in the league. King's power rankings indicate a regression for the 2022 New England squad, which has been consistent with general predictions about the team's season.
In some contexts, this prediction has merit to it.
The Patriots' 2021 season ended in a 47-17 wild-card massacre at the hands of the division rival Buffalo Bills.
On paper, New England seems to have tried to fix some of the holes the wild-card game exposed in both the offensive and defensive personnel, but questions remain as to whether this was enough. These changes have come mainly in the form of adding agility on either side of the football; this has best been exemplified through acquisitions such as Patriots second-round draft pick Tyquan Thornton, a receiver out of Baylor University who ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine.
Yet, with the overall landscape of the NFL, and especially the AFC, becoming far more competitive, it makes sense that New England's perception by the general media has seen a dip.
In comparison, the Patriots' division rivals have seen a corresponding uptick. The Miami Dolphins, fresh off their acquisition of All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill, rank at No. 16 just ahead of New England. The New York Jets rank No. 27, and the Buffalo Bills lead the rankings at, sure enough, No. 1.
It's certainly easy to get caught up in the hype (or lack thereof) being generated by these power rankings. But at the end of the day, there's a lot of time left between now and the regular season. The beauty of power rankings is that they're always changing.
At least the Patriots hope so.