Updated Oct. 18
It doesn't look right.
You scan the CBS SportsLine Power Rankings looking for the New England Patriots, usually finding them in the top 10, but they're nowhere to be found among the league's elite.
|Deion Branch and the Patriots are seeing their world turned upside down. (AP)|
They're No. 12 in the rankings, which is a far cry from where we're used to seeing them. At 3-3, they're tied for the lead in the AFC East, and it would be crazy to think they won't win that below-average division.
There's not a chance of taking Kelly Holcomb, Vinny Testaverde and Gus Frerotte -- the starting quarterbacks for the other three teams in the division -- over Tom Brady of the Patriots.
So even with all the defensive issues, the Patriots will be there in December.
But this isn't the same Patriots team, which begs an important question: Is the dynasty over?
It's a tad early for that, particularly since they came out of the toughest part of the schedule with a .500 mark, but there is cause for concern. The defense they've been playing sure isn't close to what we've come to expect from a Bill Belichick-coached team.
If that doesn't change, the dynasty, even with Brady, is over.
Can it change? With arguably the best defensive mind ever running things, you bet it can. But any coach will tell you that it's the players, not the scheme.
Therein lies the issue. Maybe there's just too much attrition for even Belichick to overcome. We're not going to say it's time to dig the hole and ready the body because the Patriots have showed way too much resilience in the past. You can never count out the coach and quarterback of this team.
But it sure doesn't seem right seeing them outside the Top 10 in our rankings. Somehow you get the idea it won't stay that way. If it does, the dynasty is dead.
The rankings for Oct. 18: