I don't envy ESPN.com's blue-ribbon Power Rankings panel this week. They're obligated to take a tiny bit of information, apply it to several months' worth of preseason projections and determine who's better than whom from No. 1 through No. 32.
As a result, the New England Patriots shot six spots up the chart and past the New York Jets. The Miami Dolphins surprisingly dropped a significant distance despite winning on the road. The Buffalo Bills inched upward despite losing at home.
Direct your praise or complaints to the panel: ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC West blogger Mike Sando.
4. New England Patriots
Previous rank: 10
My take: Fourth seems a little ambitious to me at this stage. Sando rated them second only to the New Orleans Saints. Sure, the Patriots were impressive against the Cincinnati Bengals, looking great on offense and tacking on defensive and special-teams touchdowns. But one game doesn't answer the Patriots' concerns in the pass rush, and we shouldn't expect their young cornerbacks to remain consistent.
11. New York Jets
Previous rank: 9
My take: Monday night's game was open to interpretation and could give a voter reason to go any number of ways. Despite how poorly the offense performed and how undisciplined they were as a whole, the panel took into account the fact the Baltimore Ravens are pretty darn good. A one-point loss -- even at home -- dropped the Jets only two spots. But Sando and Clayton weren't so forgiving, rating them 15th and 14th.
15. Miami Dolphins
Previous rank: 11
My take: Strange vote here. The Dolphins won on the road and dropped four spots. Granted, they allowed the lowly Bills to stay in the game until the very end, but the Dolphins were in control and played strong defensively without starting linebacker Channing Crowder and outside linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis. The Dolphins deserved more respect in my book.
30. Buffalo Bills
Previous rank: 31
My take: The Bills are better than the Cleveland Browns! Hooray! Except when they play each other, of course. The Bills climbed a spot by remaining competitive with a playoff-caliber team. Clayton, however, still listed the Bills as the worst team in the league. Kuharsky was their biggest proponent at No. 29. Can't find any fault with this placement for Buffalo.