Power Rankings: No. 9 New England

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

Preseason: 6 | Last Week: 8 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Despite a 27-17 win over the Dolphins, the Patriots drop one spot to No. 9 this week. They were leapfrogged by the Packers, who were in the No. 9 spot last week but posted a convincing road win over the Vikings on Sunday night.

Fair enough.

At times this season, the Patriots have looked like a top-10 team in the Power Rankings. Other times, they've looked like a bottom-tier club.

That has made them a bit of a trick-or-treat type team (see what I did there?), but the most important thing for them is that they've made the plays in the critical situations to post a 6-2 record. While there are lingering questions -- can the defense absorb key injury losses, will the offense get on track -- the Patriots' ability to keep stringing together wins remains impressive.

This week serves as a reminder of that as they entertain the 2-5 Steelers on Sunday.

One of the NFL's best franchises in recent years in terms of consistency, it has been a tough start to the season for the Steelers, who rank No. 27 and are coming off a loss at Oakland.