Power Rankings: No. 6 New England

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

Preseason: 6 | Last Week: 4 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Patriots drop two spots, to No. 6, after their 13-6 loss to the Bengals. I thought it would have been a steeper drop.

But looking closer at the voters' tabulations, all but one had the Patriots locked into the sixth spot. The one outlier had the Patriots ninth, with the 49ers, Packers and Bengals leapfrogging them.

The lowest the Patriots have been ranked this season is seventh, and they haven't had a game against a higher ranked opponent. That changes this week with the No. 2 New Orleans Saints coming to town. For an offense looking to find its identity and who it can turn to in critical situations, the Rob Ryan-coordinated Saints defense isn't the unit I'd want to see on the other side.

Big challenge ahead.