Patriots state case as NFL's best club

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Are the New England Patriots the best team in the NFL?

They can present one heck of an argument.

The Patriots have won five straight games and own the NFL's best record at 6-1 after dispatching the Minnesota Vikings 28-18 on Sunday in Gillette Stadium.

True enough, the New York Jets beat the Patriots in Week 2, but the Jets were shut out at home by the Green Bay Packers. The Jets' other loss was to the Baltimore Ravens, whom the Patriots beat in Week 6.

In ESPN.com's Power Rankings, the Patriots were the highest-rated team to win Sunday.

The Patriots were rated third last week. The Jets were ranked second.

The No. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers, who dodged defeat to the Miami Dolphins with a fortunate break a week earlier, lost to the No. 14 New Orleans Saints on Sunday night.

About the only negative spin you can put on the Patriots' season so far is a suspect defense and their schedule.

They've surrendered an average of 22.0 points per game, which ranks 21st. But the Patriots are averaging an NFL-best 29.3 points for.

Of the AFC East's top three teams, New England's opponents have the worst combined record at 21-29. New York's opponents are 24-27. Miami's opponents are 25-25.