Power Rankings: No. 7 New England

A weekly examination of the Patriots’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 6 | Last Week: 5 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Patriots drop two spots, from No. 5 to No. 7, after a less-than-convincing 13-10 win over the Jets.

It's always interesting how the rankings fluctuate weekly, as the Patriots' too-close-for-comfort 23-21 season-opening win over the Bills had actually earned them a one-spot bump last week (from No. 6 to No. 5).

Of course, the biggest takeaway this week is that Sunday's opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, check in at No. 30.

So this should be another victory for the Patriots, but as we know, that's not always the way it unfolds. A good reminder is how close the first two games of the season were against Buffalo (now No. 26) and the Jets (now No. 28).

One other thought: While players take a one-game-at-a-time approach, we have the luxury of looking at the big picture at times, and the schedule will get quite a bit tougher after Sunday if we view it through the lens of Power Rankings:

Sept. 29 -- at Falcons (No. 5)

Oct. 6 -- at Bengals (No. 10)

Oct. 13 -- vs. Saints (No. 8)