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Patriots Power Rankings Roundup Heading Into Their Week Fourteen Bye

The Pats’ improvement to 9-4, following a gritty victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night allows New England to maintain the top spot in both the AFC East and the AFC overall.

As the New England Patriots attempt to build on their Week Thirteen victory over the Buffalo Bills, a great deal of self-evaluation will be made as the team heads into its much needed bye-week. While head coach Bill Belichick and his coaching staff do not place great value on assessments from outside sources, weekly NFL Power Rankings may provide a glimpse into the Pats place in the League’s grand scheme.

Heading into Week Fourteen of the 2021 NFL Season, the Pats will continue to make improvements in all three phases of the game.

Using seven prominent national outlets for our power rankings roundup — Sports Illustrated, NFL.com, ESPN, CBS Sports, Pro Football Network, Sporting News, and USA Today — the Patriots ranged from 4th to 5th in the league.

Here's a roundup of the 2021 power rankings heading into Week Fourteen (including the comments from each outlet), along with Patriot Maven’s analysis.

Sports Illustrated

Rank: #5 (previous week: #5)

“Has a 14–10 victory ever felt more dominant? Watch the Patriots in winds that gusted up to 55 miles an hour, as Buffalo kept it close, and as rising quarterback Mac Jones threw only three passes—including a single attempt in the first half—and, still, the outcome of an important AFC contest never seemed in doubt. Just as Tom Brady proved in winning the Super Bowl last season with—and in—Tampa, the whole Brady-Belichick credit debate was never fair to either, let alone telling in regard to their spectacular, two-decade run. The answer, all along, was both of them, as evidenced, once again, by the twist Belichick put on his team’s seventh-straight win, not to mention his brilliant off-season that repositioned the Patriots. We could argue whether the Rams deserve this slot more, or whether the Chiefs do. But it would be foolish—now, or at any point in the near future—to doubt what Belichick has up his, well, um, the shoulder parts of his cut-off sweatshirts. With Jones playing capably, the defense playing better and a bye week ahead, here comes New England, in fast pursuit of what would be an all-time Super Bowl match-up. Do we even need to say who would play in that scenario? It’s not time to lock it in yet, but it sure seems like one of the more likely possibilities.” -Greg Bishop

ESPN

Rank: #4 (previous week: #5)

(ESPN’s Rankings by: NFL Nation, ESPN)

“Entering Monday night's game against the Bills, big-money free-agent signing [Jonnu Smith] had totaled 25 catches for 259 yards and one touchdown. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has referred to this as a foundational year for Smith and all newcomers. At the same time, when the team signed Smith to a four-year, $50 million contract in free agency -- with $31.25 million guaranteed -- it created a level of expectation that Smith is still striving to reach.” --Commentary by Mike Reiss

CBS Sports

Rank: #4 (previous week: #4)

“Don't look now, but they are the top seed in the AFC. What a great coaching job this year by Bill Belichick.” -Pete Prisco

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NFL.com

Rank: #4 (previous week: #5)

“The man's rare sideline smile told the story: This was the kind of night that keeps Bill Belichick in the game. With frigid cold and gusting winds, Belichick took the ball out of his quarterback's hands (three pass attempts for Mac Jones) and won with a pounding run attack and a defense that bent but did not break. The 14-10 victory over the Bills pushed the Pats' winning streak to seven games and gave them sole possession of the No. 1 seed in the AFC with five weeks in the regular season. Tom Brady might be gone, but the Pats' continued ability to win contests like this goes right back to the legend in the hoodie on the sideline.” -Dan Hanzus

Pro Football Network

Rank: #4 (previous week: #4)

“No team has played better over the past month, but I still wonder about the Patriots’ ceiling. They had a particularly difficult matchup on Monday Night Football – they weren’t just facing the Buffalo Bills, but the weather as well.

I wondered how the Patriots’ passing attack would look with winds reaching 50 mph. It turns out, they didn’t have much intent on finding out. Through three quarters, Mac Jones had only thrown 1 pass, which he made look nearly impossible. I went into the game believing we probably wouldn’t learn much, and the weather made sure of that.” -Dalton Miller

Sporting News

Rank: #4 (previous week: #4)

“The Patriots are the best team in the top-heavy AFC thanks to their recent defensive-fueled strong body of work with the best coach in the game, Bill Belichick. They flexed even more by beating the Bills in Buffalo on Monday night.” -Vinnie Iyer

USA Today

Rank: #4 (previously week: #4)

“With three throws in victory Monday night, rookie QB Mac Jones became the ultimate game manager! Enjoy a week at the beach, Mac, and a nice domed stadium (Indianapolis) after your break.” -Nate Davis

SI Patriot Maven Analysis:

Rank: #4 (previous week: #4)

“For all of the forthcoming armchair analysis regarding their 14-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Week Thirteen, there is one conclusion not to be overlooked as the team heads into its bye week. New England continues to win thanks largely in part to their preparation; week after week. In a matchup, which was to have favored the home team, Bill Belichick and company had their team prepared to play through the elements with an unorthodox strategy. Still, the game plan was simple: run the football and make your opponent stop you. The Pats were successful in doing their part, the Bills were not. As such, New England heads into their rest week atop the division and the conference.” -Mike D’Abate