Friday, September 8, 2023

New England Patriots Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a post-draft roundup for the New England Patriots in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 17

On the hot seat: QB Mac Jones

Jones' production dipped in 2022 -- and he missed three games to injury -- after an impressive rookie season, and this is his year to prove the decline wasn't as much about him as the changes around him (e.g., Bill Belichick revamping the offense and assigning longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia to carry out his vision). The Patriots have to decide in May whether they will pick up Jones' fifth-year option for 2025, which further contributes to this being a pivotal year for him. -- Mike Reiss -- Rank: 24

It's hard to know what to expect from a team that looks like it could be fourth-best in the AFC East (arguably a top-two division in the league) in terms of talent. Sure, the Patriots can and will run the ball effectively, and the defense should be a good-to-very-good unit even without Devin McCourty, whose departure will be felt throughout the organization. But where's the offensive firepower? Rhamondre Stevenson can do a lot, and Ezekiel Elliott should help prevent the third-year back from wearing down, but the pass-catching group looks like a solid collection of second, third and fourth options. There's no one player who changes the way teams will defend New England. Even with Bill O'Brien back in the fold, the Patriots' lack of an elite playmaker is far and away my biggest worry about this team entering the season.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 24

The defense should be solid, which will keep them in games. But the big question is Mac Jones and the passing game. Bill O'Brien will help, but how much?

USA Today -- Rank: 21

As much fascination as there presently is about who will be the backup quarterback, if starter Mac Jones doesn't take a few steps forward from his rookie performance — after regressing as a sophomore in 2022 — New England will be dead in the water.

The Athletic -- Rank: 20

Best-case scenario: The celebration for Tom Brady scheduled for the season opener on Sunday is cut short when Brady announces he's unretiring to return to the Patriots, much to Mac Jones' dismay. Such a transaction is presumably not allowed given Brady's ownership stake in the Las Vegas Raiders, but the rules have never much applied to him anyway. With Brady at the helm, all of a sudden an offense that looks to have serious questions along the offensive line and an array of pass-catching weapons that ranks in the bottom five of the league can be functional enough to allow its potentially great defense to lead it to a wild-card berth.

Worst-case scenario: Bill O'Brien is no salve for an offense devoid of juice, and the hardest schedule in the league by projected win totals sinks the season. Bill Belichick is gently nudged into retirement to make room for new head coach Jerod Mayo.

FOX -- Rank: 23

If the Pats played in almost any other division, I think we'd feel much differently about them. The defense figures to be one of the NFL's best once again. Nothing about the offense wows you, but there are some serviceable pieces. And the smart bet is that Bill O'Brien will at least help Mac Jones play competent football. It's not a bad recipe for success — unless you play in the loaded AFC East, where this just doesn't feel like enough to get the job done.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 20

Ezekiel Elliott was a fine addition. He was overpaid and probably overused with the Cowboys, but he's not a terrible back in a certain role. I don't buy for a moment Elliott will into Rhamondre Stevenson's workload that much. Almost all backs are timeshare backs, and Stevenson was never going to get 90% of the work. He'll have a big year, with Elliott playing a nice supporting role.

PFT -- Rank: 19

They used to be the Harlem Globetrotters. They're now in danger of becoming the Washington Generals.

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