NFL Power Rankings, Week 13: Patriots on the heels of Tom Brady, Bucs

New England Patriots (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
New England Patriots (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /

Are Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots on the path to a Super Bowl matchup with Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

It is certainly on the table as the Patriots have risen to the No. 5 spot in the Week 13 NFL Power Rankings following a 36-13 beatdown of the undermanned Tennessee Titans.

In winning their sixth consecutive game, the Patriots have set themselves up nicely for a top playoff seed if they take care of business in the upcoming weeks. But beyond the possibility of a deep playoff run, perhaps even the Super Bowl is the future for Belichick and his team.

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Not only do they look like they have the next guy in Mac Jones, but the Patriots also have a combination of veterans and younger players stepping up to make a pretty good core for the team moving beyond the 2021 NFL season. In all it’s a good place for the team to be, but no one thought they would be in the conversation as a Super Bowl contender this soon.

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In his NFL Power Rankings, Week 13 column, Dan Hanzus writes:

"“The win streak has reached six games for the Patriots after a wipeout of the undermanned Titans. Mac Jones fared well in his first cold-weather outing at Foxborough, but it was the defense that once again played the starring role for New England. The Pats forced four turnovers, including an end-zone pick by cornerback J.C. Jackson, who also had a crucial forced fumble when the game remained in doubt. Said Bill Belichick after the win: ‘You leave any trash laying around, he’s going to pick it up.’ The Pats have announced themselves as a player in the AFC, but a challenging three-game stretch that includes two matchups against the Bills will give us a greater understanding of where this team stands.”"

Where the New England Patriots stand

Ranked ahead of the Buffalo Bills who come in at No.6, the Patriots are only looking up at the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 4), Brady and the Buccaneers (No.3), the Arizona Cardinals (No. 2) and the Green Bay Packers (No.1). There is no disagreement there as all those teams have great quarterback play and have been getting it done on both sides of the ball.

With a win against the Bills on Monday night, the Patriots could find themselves climbing even further up the rankings in a game that presents as their biggest challenge of the season.

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To win that game, Mac Jones will need he can perform on the big stage in cold weather and the defense will have to correct some disappointing run defense against a Bills team out to prove that they are indeed the class of the AFC East.  If the Patriots do get it done, well they stake their claim as officially back and set themselves up nicely as the favorite in the AFC along with the Chiefs.

Beyond that, Mr. Brady and the Buccanneers may have to prepare themselves for a rematch of the Week 4 matchup in which Tom Brady got the best of Belichick in a 19-17 Buccaneers’ victory.