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So did New England, which received only two first-place selections but wound up just five points behind the Packers in the power rankings that will be updated weekly beginning on Sept. 4. And the Patriots hardly have the difficult chore the Packers or Giants will face to win their divisions.

It wouldn’t be a shock for New England to run away with the AFC East _ that Thanksgiving night game at the Jets could turn into a Patriots party to clinch the division.

Like the Patriots, New England’s offense has the ability to dominate.

“If Patriots improve on D they’ll be back in Super Bowl,” said 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Not headed for the Super Bowl, but in contention for the top overall draft choice next April, will be six teams who sit at the bottom of the AP Pro32 rankings. The panel chose Indianapolis as the league’s worst, but the voters easily could have gone with Jacksonville, Cleveland, Minnesota, St. Louis, or Miami.

It’s possible those six teams won’t win as many as Green Bay or New England gets all season. The Jaguars have little offense _ none if Maurice Jones-Drew has a long holdout. Cleveland is banking on lots of youngsters, including at least four rookies. Minnesota’s best offensive player, Adrian Peterson, comes off a major left knee injury, and its defense gave up the second-most points in the league last year _ the most of any team that didn’t hang it up early, as Tampa Bay did.

St. Louis is in a major rebuilding mode, although coach Jeff Fisher might be worth an extra win. Miami might be more in flux than any NFL team.

And that’s what makes power rankings so much fun.


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