It’s a strange world when a ninth-place ranking seems like it’s being generous to the New England Patriots in the eyes of the media.
While there’s still plenty of time left between now and the start of the 2020 NFL regular season — if there even is a season, that is — it’s never too early to start projecting the future and making predictions based off stats, analysis, opinions, and gut feelings.
ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) has been the media giant’s preferred method of rating and ranking NFL teams against one another for quite some time now. While FPI will certainly change throughout the season as more relevant data is accrued, the site just released their preseason ratings for all 32 teams.
According to ESPN, these ratings “are based on each team’s Las Vegas win total; last season’s performance on offense, defense and special teams; the number of returning starters; coaching staff changes; and starting and backup quarterbacks.”
These are a lot of the same factors that have led to many writers and analysts around the web and on television dismissing the New England Patriots in 2020 now that Tom Brady is gone.
But while many Vegas sportsbooks have the Patriots pegged at winning just around eight or nine games and finishing second in their own division, ESPN’s FPI is significantly kinder to New England in their preseason projection: they have the Pats rated ninth overall out of 32 teams.
The teams higher than the Patriots, from one to eight, are the Chiefs, Ravens, 49ers, Saints, Cowboys, Eagles, Seahawks, and Buccaneers.
It’s hard to make an argument against most of those teams being ranked higher than New England on any kind of list right now until we know more about what second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham brings to the table.
Still, it’s got to sting a little bit to see Brady’s new team, the Buccaneers, slotted just ahead of the Patriots in this first preseason list.
Patriots edge out Bills in ESPN’s initial FPI ratings
Bostonians and Patriots fans worldwide can take solace though in the fact that New England ranks higher — albeit just barely — than Buffalo according to ESPN’s FPI. The preseason ratings have the Bills at No. 10 as of now.
Notable teams rated below New England on this current list include Tennessee, Green Bay, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and both Los Angeles squads. Many analysts, writers, and media figures out there would probably love to argue that the Patriots should be below any or all of those teams.
At least for the time being, however, the Patriots and their fans can feel secure that they’re still top-10 in one major sports network’s estimation.