Patriots descend deeper into mediocrity in USA TODAY’s power rankings


The New England Patriots lost ground in the USA TODAY power rankings from Nate Davis. New England, which sat at 13th going into Week 1, fell to No. 17 after a 17-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in the season opener.

Patriots running back Damien Harris fumbled the football on the 9-yard line with roughly three minutes left in the game. The mistake cost the Patriots an opportunity to try a go-ahead field goal or score a touchdown. Instead, the Dolphins took the ball and chewed the remaining clock, which ended Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones’ debut in a disappointing fashion.

Here’s what Davis wrote about Bill Belichick’s 2021 squad.

“17. Patriots (13): RB Damien Harris squandered a 100-yard day with a fourth-quarter fumble New England couldn’t recover from. Good luck getting out of Belichick’s doghouse, Damien …”

It’s actually unlikely that Harris ends up in Belichick’s doghouse. Simply, the Patriots need him too badly, and he’s proven himself trustworthy with the ball since entering the NFL as a third-round pick. He has been so competent that the Patriots traded away former first-rounder Sony Michel to the running-back-need Rams before the season started. Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson also fumbled in Week 1. As he was competing with snaps with J.J. Taylor, Stevenson may actually be the one in Belichick’s doghouse.

Either way, the Patriots have plenty upon which they can build between a strong defensive showing and an efficient outing from the rookie QB. It’s likely we’ll see New England climb these rankings in short time, perhaps as soon as Week 2 when the Patriots play the Jets.


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