As the New England Patriots attempt to place their Week One-loss to the Miami Dolphins in the rearview mirror, a great deal of self-evaluation will be made as the team prepares for another inter-division matchup with the New York Jets 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 Two of the 2021 NFL Season, the Pats have dropped a bit below the equator when it comes to their national perception throughout the league. Despite their 0-1 start, the prowess and potential shown by quarterback Mac Jones (in his NFL debut), as well as the strength of New England’s defensive front, have New England avoiding the cellar of team rankings.
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 15th to 20th in the league.
Here's a roundup of the 2021 power rankings heading into Week 2 (including the comments from each outlet), along with Patriot Maven’s analysis.
“Mac Jones finished with a CPOE better than that of Kyler Murray on Sunday. While he was similarly plodding like Tagovailoa, he avoided a costly turnover. The Patriots were able to scheme their two prized tight ends open even if the offensive game plan was on the conservative side. Christian Barmore could develop into Bill Belichick’s next great defensive tackle.” -Connor Orr
“Finishing 29-of-39 for 281 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, Jones was arguably the Patriots' best player in a season-opening loss to the Dolphins. Opposing players were impressed. "He didn't really make any mistakes. He was poised," Dolphins defensive back Jason McCourty said. "Even watching him in the huddle, getting guys in, yelling, commanding. ... He gave his team a chance to win." -Mike Reiss
“Mac Jones did some good things against Miami, but just not enough to win his first game. He now heads to the road to face the Jets in a winnable game.” -Pete Prisco
” Bill Belichick is notoriously fickle with his running backs, so you can only imagine the sleepless nights Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson suffered after each lost fumbles in a one-point loss to the Dolphins. Harris' fumble, which occurred late in the fourth quarter with the Pats in field-goal range, is the type of miscue that could cost him his hard-earned bell-cow role. The biggest positive came at quarterback, where Mac Jones looked fully capable of leading Josh McDaniels' offense going forward. The first-round pick settled into a nice groove as the game progressed and showed off impressive touch and accuracy on several throws. It will be a long week of practice for Pats players, but this team has significant potential for improvement.” -Dan Hanzus
Pro Football Network
“Mac Jones made his NFL debut against his former college teammate and went toe to toe with an impressive Miami Dolphins defense. He completed 29 of his 39 passes for 281 yards, displaying outstanding efficiency for his first-ever start. New England’s defense stepped up, holding the Dolphins to just 17 points. However, they must convert on more drives and not settle for field goals.” -Dalton Miller
“Are the Patriots trying to win with smoke and mirrors? Nope. Just the running game, conservative passing game with rookie Mac Jones, defense and special teams. But that also gives them a hard ceiling in trying to compete with the AFC heavyweights and little margin for error, which played out against the Dolphins.” -Vinny Iyer
“RB Damien Harris squandered a 100-yard day with a fourth-quarter fumble New England couldn't recover from. Good luck getting out of Belichick's doghouse, Damien …” -Nate Davis
SI Patriot Maven Analysis:
While learning from a position of strength (a win) is preferable to learning from a loss, the Patriots will enter week two with a robust list of areas for improvement. The Pats exhibited poor ball security (fumbling the ball four times, losing two to Miami) and erratic discipline when it came to ill-timed, costly penalties. Each was far too prevalent on Sunday. Still, the Pats can parlay a strong showing from quarterback Mac Jones into greater offensive production, particularly in the red zone. Coupled with a vastly improved defensive front, New England should be poised to put out a much more efficient and productive product in Week Two.