NFL Power Rankings, Week 2: Patriots, Cam Newton will matter in AFC

Following a solid 21-11 victory over the Miami Dolphins, Cam Newton and the New England Patriots make a slight jump in the NFL Power Rankings.

No Tom Brady.  That’s fine.  The New England Patriots are 1-0 following a 21-11 victory over the Miami Dolphins.  With the win, the team moves up three spots to No. 12 in the Week 2 NFL Power Rankings.

Yeah, yeah, it was just the Dolphins, but it was the way the Patriots won the game that was impressive.  Led by 75 yards rushing from Cam Newton, the running game looked solid and the defense looked like it did last season.

Stephon Gilmore with his new raise intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick and really set the tone in the secondary as the defense got inspired front seven play out of players like Chase Winovich, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Bryan Cowart, Derek Rivers and rookie Anfernee Jennings.

Bill Belichick will need more contributions from his young players to continue to rise in the rankings and compete with AFC teams rounding out the top 10 like the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 1), Baltimore Ravens (No. 2), Tennessee Titans (No. 5) and Buffalo Bills (No. 6).

An offensive playmaker away from really being a threat (We see you Allen Robinson), the Patriots will stay competitive as long as Cam Newton and that power running game is both creative and effective.

Borrowing from Newton’s Auburn playbook, the Pats’ offense kept it simple for their new quarterback by featuring his ability to move the ball with his feet, something the team never had with Tom Brady under center.’s Dan Hanzus credits offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the offense led by Cam Newton as a reason the New England Patriots will matter in the AFC:

“The Patriots aren’t the Patriots of their glory years, but that doesn’t mean they won’t matter in the AFC. They improved to 51-12 at home against AFC East opponents in the Bill Belichick era (seriously) after a 21-11 win over the Dolphins in Foxborough. The craziest stat of the day? Cam Newton rushed the ball 15 times in his Pats debut; it was the highest number of carries he’s ever had in a game that didn’t go to overtime. It’s too early to say if this is how Josh McDaniels’ offense will look every week, but a Cam-led ground-and-pound attack makes a lot of sense.”

Where the New England Patriots stand

In rising three spots to No. 12 in the Week 2 NFL Power Rankings, the New England Patriots are now ranked ahead of old friend Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who come in at No. 13 following a Week 1 loss to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

Just like you can’t overreact to the Pats’ Week 1 win over the Miami Dolphins, the same can be said about a talented Buccaneers team led by Brady.

As a Patriots fan, it sure feels good though.

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With Cam Newton doing his thing and the defense once again looking solid, the Patriots could find themselves back near the top 10 even with a loss to the Seattle Seahawks, depending on how competitive that game is.

If they go down and upset Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, there is no doubt Dan Hanzus would have to consider moving them into the top 10, especially if two teams ahead of them, the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys drop to 0-2.  Both of those teams are coming off disappointing Week 1 losses.

Where the New England Patriots should stand

There is no arguing the New England Patriots coming in at No. 12.

Cam Newton is Cam Newton, but the challenge for Josh McDaniels is to be creative in the passing game.  With old reliable Julian Edelman as pretty much the only reliable target besides running back James White, the Pats have to get something more out of N’Keal Harry and the tight end position.

With how the team operates with young talent, it is a sure bet that Harry and rookie tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene will be factors on offense as the season goes forward.

Next: New England Patriots: 3 keys to surprising Seahawks in Week 2

The New England Patriots also have a versatile running back group that will only get stronger once second year running back Damien Harris returns.

In all, it’s just been one week, but it appears that the more things change for the New England Patriots, the more things stay the same as long as Bill Belichick is involved.  As long as he’s there, the Belichick’s team will matter in the AFC.