Patriots: Where does NE fit in NFL Power Rankings roundup?

James White #28 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
James White #28 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Sports outlets around the internet have released their pre-season NFL team power rankings for the Patriots, and they’re as divided as we’ve ever seen them.

This is easily the most uncertain season the New England Patriots have entered in decades. With a new quarterback and holes all over the roster, it’s tough to predict whether the Pats will even sniff a playoff berth.

Some (namely Boomer Esiason) believe New England’s ceiling is low, and that 2020 is a total rebuilding year. However, many others think Cam Newton should bring enough talent to the QB position to push the team back to the AFC Championship.

If you don’t want to hear hot takes about your team from talking heads, though, you can read hot takes about every team from various top-32 power rankings from around the internet. From ESPN to reddit, the beginning of September means it’s time for sports outlets to attempt to compare every team before even seeing them take the field.

Thanks to Tom Brady’s migration south, the Patriots and Buccaneers have some of the greatest deviation among different lists. The Tennessee Titans, though, are actually the most disagreed upon; they appear on these lists as high as No. 5 and as low as 22.

Even without Aqib Talib, the Pats’ secondary is the one part of their roster that should remain consistent and be as dominant as they were in 2019. Do any sites see sustained success for the Pats in 2020?

Patriots in 2020 NFL Power Rankings

We’ll start with NFL Network’s list, which comes from seasoned pros of the ranking world. New England is placed right by the center of their tower at No. 15, above the Texans and below the banged-up Eagles. The author of their blurb refers to Cam Newton as a “bridge” to the next QB that the Pats will invest a top draft pick in soon. Given the facts that we haven’t seen Cam Newton play, and that Drew Bledsoe was the last QB the Pats spent a high draft pick on, it seems like a bold take.

Pats Nation is probably happy to see that ESPN placed the team No. 9 in their rankings, if not for one thing; they placed Tampa Bay at No. 8. Perhaps this will serve as an extra chip on the shoulder of the Pats offense — without a snap having been taken, they are deemed worse than their old father Tom Brady. Overall, ESPN’s list is pretty fair, save for a strange decision to put Green Bay at No. 15 after an NFCCG appearance.

Bleacher Report’s rankings have garnered popularity among the community, but the site wasn’t kind to New England in this edition. Their “expert” consensus averages the Pats at No. 19, with one staffer placing them as low as No. 24. Their writeup cites Brady’s departure and the plentiful opt-outs as reasons they’ll be in the bottom half of the league, but it seems too pessimistic for a Belichick-led team to me. We’re under the Browns??, a fascinating website that blends news articles and computerized statistical analysis, throws its hat into the sports ring by designing algorithms to predict the outcomes of sports matches and seasons. Using ELO ratings, a 538 special that measures the strength of teams and players, the website simulated the upcoming season 100,000 times and came to the conclusion that New England will likely be the eighth-best team in 2020. I’m not a computer, but I’ll take that assessment.

Our final power ranking will be the CBS Sports list, and at first, you might be upset to see that they stuck the Patriots at No. 20 with no other explanation than, “Look at the roster.” However, how seriously can we take a site that ranks Green Bay at No. 2, Minnesota at No. 19, Atlanta at No. 13, Arizona at No. 14, and Pittsburgh at No. 5 over Baltimore at No. 6? This list is a nightmare. If the standings look anything like this once we reach Week 17, 2020 truly is the worst year ever.

So, just like in Boston sports media, no one in the nation’s sports media is sure of what they should expect from this New England squad. The one thing no one’s claiming, though, is that the Pats are still a Super Bowl threat. We’ll have to see if Cam Newton can put that idea into anyone’s heads come this time next week.