AFC East gains Power Rankings strength

The AFC East has not wavered. It began 2010 as one of the best divisions and has grown stronger as the season has progressed.

In the latest edition of ESPN.com's Power Rankings, the New England Patriots and New York Jets were cemented among the conference's elite teams, while the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills each climbed the chart.

A month or so into the season, the AFC East was solid except for the Bills. Even they are highly competitive now, taking two top-five teams into overtime before losing.

ESPN.com's Power Rankings staff is senior writer John Clayton, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC West blogger Mike Sando.

2. New England Patriots

Previous rank: 2

My take: The Patriots held firm because the No. 1 Atlanta Falcons beat the respected Green Bay Packers. I still have my reservations about the Patriots' defense. They're ranked 31st in total defense, 16th in run defense and dead last in pass defense. But the most important stat is 9-2.

3. New York Jets

Previous rank: 4

My take: The Jets finally won a game in which they didn't need breaks that bordered on divine intervention and moved up a notch, leapfrogging the Baltimore Ravens. Even though the Jets defeated the Patriots in Week 2, I have no problem with the Jets being slotted right behind them two months later. The Patriots have been winning much more comfortably than the Jets. But we'll know for sure on Monday night, won't we?

15. Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: 19

My take: Their convincing road victory over the Oakland Raiders was impressive and made the Dolphins one of this week's biggest Power Rankings risers. The Dolphins are in their season twilight, but based on Sunday's performance they're going to swing until dark.

27. Buffalo Bills

Previous rank: 28

My take: The plucky Bills moved up a third straight week. They've crawled off the doormat to 30th to 28th and, despite a narrow loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, to 27th. The panel gave the Bills credit for coming close against a team that was rated fifth. They can continue their climb with their next two games against the No. 23 Minnesota Vikings and No. 22 Cleveland Browns.