As the New England Patriots attempt to build on their Week Three loss to the New Orleans Saints, a great deal of self-evaluation will be made as the team prepares for a tough matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. 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 Four of the 2021 NFL Season, the Pats are in need of improvement 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 19th to 23rd in the league.
Here's a roundup of the 2021 power rankings heading into Week Four (including the comments from each outlet), along with Patriot Maven’s analysis.
Rank: #22 (previous: #16)
“It’s not that surprising that New England has scuttled its way through life in the NFL after Tom Brady. After all, Brady can go to a new team, with elite wideouts and a stout defense, and attempt to win again, having not only reloaded but landing in a better situation. The team he left, even with Bill Belichick, must reconfigure—and must reconfigure despite having built around Brady, using draft picks and capital and cap space, for years. There’s a lot to like about rookie quarterback Mac Jones. There’s not a lot to like about the Pats’ playoff chances.” -Greg Bishop
Rank: #19 (previous week: #19)
(ESPN’s Rankings by: NFL Nation, ESPN)
“Mac Jones has completed 81 of 120 passes for 737 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. Jones is growing into the job, and there have been some predictable rookie growing pains -- such as his first interception against the Saints on Sunday. He has been solid in the shorter passing game, but he hasn't been able to consistently connect down the field. Overall, teammates are bullish on him as their leader, and that should bode well for his development. "Tough kid, poised, kept throwing punches," starting center David Andrews said. -- Commentary by Mike Reiss
Rank: #20 (previous week: #19)
“What the heck was that against the Saints? They looked flat as can be. Mac Jones still has a long ways to go. Here comes Tom Brady.” -Pete Prisco
Rank: #23 (previous week: #15)
“The Patriots were the NFL's gold standard for so long that it's almost jarring to see how ordinary Bill Belichick's team has become. New England authored no flashbacks to former glories on Sunday, a listless 28-13 loss to the Saints that featured three Mac Jones interceptions. This uneasy period of self-reflection comes at an awkward time for the organization: Tom Brady makes his return to Gillette Stadium on Sunday night with a great chance to set the NFL's all-time passing-yardage mark. Brady continues to cast a huge shadow over the organization -- this week is going to feel like a total eclipse. "The Patriots have done nothing but win for a long time," Jones said after losing to New Orleans. "We have to get back to that." The rookie has opted into a world of impossible expectations.” -Dan Hanzus
Pro Football Network
Rank: #20 (previous week: #16)
“Mac Jones’ Rookie of the Year candidacy took a massive hit on Sunday when he threw his first 3 interceptions of the season. His “success” early in the NFL season was a mirage. New England’s passing attack hasn’t sniffed explosiveness so far in 2021.” -Dalton Miller
Rank: #21 (previous week: #17)
“The Patriots have done their best to hide Mac Jones with the defense and running game. But when those fall apart, the rookie can unravel. The caretaking vs. playmaking won't work over the long haul this season.” -Vinnie Iyer
Rank: #22 (previously week: #20)
“They're 0-2 at home for the first time since Bill Belichick took over in 2000 ... and staring down the barrel of 0-3 with prodigal son TB12 on his way back to Foxborough.” -Nate Davis
SI Patriot Maven Analysis:
Rank: #20 (previous week: #16)
“Sunday's matchup against the Saints shined the spotlight on the Pats most pertinent problems. Once again, Mac Jones was under constant duress, with the pressure getting to the rookie a bit more on Sunday than in his previous two starts. Jones would finish the day completing 30 of 51 passes for 270 yards. He had one touchdown pass, with three interceptions, and was sacked twice. Still, the story of the day for the Patriots was their inability to execute when it was needed most. The Patriots were largely ineffective on offense, showed a lack of consistent aggression on defense, and made mistakes on special teams, as well. With Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Bucs headed to Foxboro this Sunday, the task at hand certainly does not get any easier. Bill Belichick can pull them out of this, but it will take total buy-in from the players, along with significant improvement in all areas of execution to do so.” -Mike D’Abate