We are down to the final set of ESPN.com’s NFL Power Rankings.
The AFC East went 2-2 in Week 17. Here is how the results impacted the final rankings.
New England Patriots (13-3)
Result: W, 49-21 against Bills
Power Ranking: No. 4 (same)
Walker's vote: No. 3 (same)
Analysis: The Patriots have won eight straight, but that wasn't enough to improve their final ranking. New England finished No. 4 behind a trio of NFC teams: Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots remain the highest-rated AFC team and have an inside track to the Super Bowl with home-field advantage. They should be healthy following the bye. The biggest question is can the defense play well when it counts.
New York Jets (8-8)
Result: L, 19-17 against Dolphins
Power Ranking: No. 19 (down three spots)
Walker's vote: No. 17 (down one spot)
Analysis: The Jets joined the Philadelphia Eagles as the biggest flops in the NFL this season. New York coach Rex Ryan oversold this team as a Super Bowl contender. The Jets were talented in the starting lineup but didn't have the same depth as previous years. This group also wasn’t as close and had a ton of chemistry issues. The Jets are another example that chemistry matters in the NFL. New York unraveled itself with bickering, infighting and underperforming.
Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Result: W, 19-17 against Jets
Power Ranking: No. 24 (same)
Walker’s vote: No. 22 (up one spot)
Analysis: Miami sent longtime defensive end Jason Taylor out in style with a win over the rival Jets. This team isn't far away from turning things around. The Dolphins finished the year 6-3 in their last nine games. If they nail this quarterback and head-coaching search, they will be a dangerous team to watch in 2012.
Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Result: L, 49-21 against Patriots
Power Ranking: No. 25 (same)
Walker’s vote: No. 24 (same)
Analysis: The Bills gave up 49 unanswered points to the Patriots. That should be more than enough reason for Buffalo to do everything it can to upgrade the defense via the draft and free agency. It already cost former defensive coordinator George Edwards his job. The Bills showed flashes this season, particularly early. But they need to add more impact players and depth to be able to survive injuries.