In hindsight, what was the rest of the NFL thinking?
Letting Bill Belichick get his hands on a quarterback compared to a young Tom Brady without even having to trade up from the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Sooner rather than later, it might be blasphemous that Mac Jones was the fifth quarterback selected in the first round. In the meantime, it looks like Jones is the right person to steer the Patriots out of a one-year irrelevance without Brady and back into the AFC playoffs, where no team wants to line up against Belichick. While the Patriots are rising fast, it seems almost every other team outside of the top three is sinking.
Here are The Post’s power rankings for Week 11:
1. Tennessee Titans, 8-2 (1)
The Titans have won an NFL-best six in a row. More impressively? After slipping past the Saints, the last five wins are against playoff teams from last season, making the Titans only the second team (2003 Eagles) to accomplish that feat. Jeffery Simmons has five sacks in the last two games. Ryan Tannehill ran for and threw for a touchdown.
2. Green Bay Packers, 8-2 (2)
You could look at the Packers’ 17-0 win against the Seahawks (3-0 after three quarters) as Aaron Rodgers struggling without a week of practice in his return from a COVID-19-enforced absence. Or you could look at it as dominant defense holding Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson to 34 total points in the last three games. Running back Aaron Jones was lost to a MCL injury.
3. Arizona Cardinals, 8-2 (3)
Colt McCoy’s magic touch as a backup quarterback for the Giants in 2020 and Cardinals in 2021 disappeared with two first-quarter turnovers, and the Cardinals ran into an emotional buzzsaw in Cam Newton’s first game back with the Panthers. Kyler Murray (ankle) could return next week. DeAndre Hopkins is missed, too.
4. Dallas Cowboys, 7-2 (7)
The Cowboys’ two-week wild ride best epitomizes the wide-open state of the NFL right now. One week after trailing the Broncos 30-0 in the fourth quarter, the NFL’s top-ranked offense walloped the Falcons, 43-3, behind defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s revenge game against a team he coached to the Super Bowl.
5. Los Angeles Rams, 8-2 (4)
The Rams added Von Miller, then lost the next game. They added Odell Beckham Jr., then lost the next game. Who will they add this week? Dan Marino? Barry Sanders? Lawrence Taylor? What a golden opportunity to tie the Cardinals wasted in a blowout loss to the 49ers. Sean McVay’s offense looks broken.
6. New England Patriots, 6-4 (10)
Jones threw three touchdown passes, including two to Hunter Henry, in a 45-7 rout of the Browns. Henry has seven touchdown catches in the last seven games. Can anyone think of the last great quarterback-tight end duo to play in New England?
7. Buffalo Bills, 6-3 (9)
The jokes at the Bills’ expense after a 9-6 loss to the Jaguars can stop now. Turns out they do know how to embarrass a bad team as shown by a 45-17 win against the Jets. An often one-dimensional passing offense showed a new wrinkle with four rushing touchdowns, but the AFC East is no longer theirs for the taking.
8. Kansas City Chiefs, 6-4 (11)
How fitting it was that Patrick Mahomes torched the Raiders for five touchdown passes after it was the Raiders who provided a blueprint for slowing down the Chiefs during a win last season. So, the Chiefs – the rare team without a head-scratching loss – are leading the AFC West after too-soon reports of their demise.
9. Baltimore Ravens, 6-3 (5)
The Ravens, Buccaneers and Steelers – the next three teams listed – all suffered stunning results. The Dolphins made Lamar Jackson look ordinary by blitzing safeties Jevon Holland (21 times) and Brandon Jones (17) more times than any defensive backs in any game since 2016, according to NextGenStats. The Ravens failed to score at least 14 points for the first time in the last 51 games.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 6-3 (6)
The Bucs have lost two straight and are a “very dumb football team,” coach Bruce Arians said. Brady threw two interceptions and the defense allowed a 19-play fourth-quarter touchdown drive to Washington, which avenged its playoff loss. One downfall of fielding an old team is injuries – and the Bucs have too many to list.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-3-1 (8)
12. New Orleans Saints, 5-4 (12)
13. Indianapolis Colts, 5-5 (15)
14. Minnesota Vikings, 4-5 (21)
15. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-4 (13)
16. San Francisco 49ers, 3-6 (22)
17. Las Vegas Raiders, 5-4 (16)
18. Carolina Panthers, 5-5 (25)
19. Cleveland Browns, 5-5 (14)
20. Cincinnati Bengals, 5-4 (18)
21. Philadelphia Eagles, 4-6 (26)
22. Denver Broncos, 5-5 (17)
23. New York Giants, 3-6 (23)
Winners of two of their last three, the Giants have wins over the current No. 6 and No. 7 seeds in the NFC playoffs (Saints and Panthers, respectively). They will draw an angry Tom Brady on “Monday Night Football,” but then the schedule softens, including a slew of offenses that can be contained in the Giants’ defense-first winning formula.
24. Seattle Seahawks, 3-6 (20)
25. Washington Football Team, 3-6 (29)
26. Atlanta Falcons, 4-5 (19)
27. Chicago Bears, 3-6 (24)
28. Miami Dolphins, 3-7 (30)
29. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-7 (27)
30. New York Jets, 2-7 (28)
The Jets have allowed 175 points over the last four games (1-3), which is the second-most in a four-game span by any team since 1970, according to ESPN. The Patriots (54), Colts (45) and Bills (45) made the Jets the first team since the 1966 Giants to give up at least 45 points three times over four games. Yeah, the young defense also is a bad defense.
31. Houston Texans, 1-8 (31)
32. Detroit Lions, 0-8-1 (32)