ESPN has released its new NFL power rankings prior to Week 2. The movement in the AFC East was fairly interesting, especially when keeping in mind the immense amount of focus given to the New York Jets throughout the offseason and preseason.
New England Patriots: No. 1
The Patriots have moved into the top position after the New York Giants' Week 1 loss. This was to be expected.
The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers both look like stronger teams so far. However, the Packers lost, which pretty much lowers their ranking by default, with the way ESPN voters operate. The 49ers do not have the recent history that the Patriots have, which kept them down in the votes.
As long as the Patriots remain undefeated, they will remain on top. However, with their easy schedule this year, any loss is likely to cause them to drop.
New York Jets: No. 17
The Jets are being underranked at No. 17. As the second-best team in the division that has the easiest schedule this season, they should be favorites for the top wild-card spot in the AFC.
Nevertheless, this is still a step up from their prior ranking of No. 21.
The thinking of the ESPN voters is most likely that they do not want to change their opinions too quickly after the events of the offseason. Expect the Jets to creep up the power rankings a couple spots at a time as the voters slowly come around.
The lowest reasonable spot for the Jets right now would be No. 12. That spot is currently occupied by the Philadelphia Eagles, who looked horrendous in their first game.
Buffalo Bills: No. 24
This ranking may actually be too harsh, despite the blowout loss in the Week 1. One major reaction around the media to the Week 1 game was a huge drop in the perception of the Bills' quality. This is a backlash of the offseason perception of the Jets.
Losing to a Jets team that has been assumed to be bad makes the Bills look bad. As the Jets continue to prove their legitimacy, that will make the Bills look more legitimate as well.
Expect the Bills to creep back up in the rankings as high as No. 20 in the coming weeks.
Miami Dolphins: No. 30
Given the reasonable amount of talent on the Dolphins defense this season, it is hard to place them as low as No. 30. However, the teams right around them—the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cleveland Browns—both looked better in the preseason and in Week 1.
The NFL is very deep compared to other American sports leagues. The bottom is never really that bad.
While the Dolphins have some good players, a ranking of around No. 30 or No. 31 is reasonable.