The Patriots absolutely fly up USA TODAY’s power rankings after win over Chargers

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The New England Patriots took a massive leap up USA TODAY’s power rankings after Week 8. A win over the Los Angles Chargers has moved Bill Belichick’s team from 21st to ninth.

That’s the biggest move I can remember seeing for New England in these rankings over the last few years. Apparently. the last two weeks have made a big impression upon USA TODAY’s Nate Davis, who expects the Patriots to take care of business over the next three weeks against the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons.

With a 4-4 record and this stretch looking much less difficult than a few weeks ago, the Patriots could emerge favorites in the AFC.

9. Patriots (21): Admittedly, it’s a weird résumé, though one that’s significantly improved with a 54-point outburst and road win over the Bolts in past two weeks. New England is also this close to a 7-1 record … though Pats should be 7-4 once Week 12 and a date with some old friends from Tennessee rolls around.

New England had issues closing games against the Dolphins, Buccaneers and Cowboys in the early stages of the season. It seems the Patriots are starting to put that issue behind them with their wins over the Texans, Jets and Chargers. But for New England to make a real playoff run, they may need to win all three upcoming games, because the end of their season — with two games against the Bills — should prove difficult.

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Winners and losers from the Patriots' statement win over the Chargers