You knew it was coming. Every Tuesday until eternity or the end of the NFL season, the ESPN.com Power Rankings show up to stir the national debate. In the past, the NFC East has been a dominant presence in the "Rankings," a word that is always capitalized for fear of readers not realizing its significance in their lives.
As expected, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles both dropped a few spots, causing Alex Barron to once again give Roy Williams an apologetic dap. Thanks to panelist Mike Sando, the voting process is no longer shrouded in secrecy. We're hopefully moving toward a time of unprecedented transparency when readers will have John Clayton's cellphone number so they can leave thoughtful messages such as, "What's your fascination with the Redskins this season, John?"
Now let's have a look at the damage:
No. 8 Dallas Cowboys: Clayton had been bullish on the Cowboys for much of the offseason, but he docked them severely for a 13-7 loss to the Redskins on Sunday night with a No. 11 vote. Perhaps factoring in the Cowboys' missing starters on the offensive line, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky had the Cowboys at 7.
No. 14 Washington Redskins: The Skins moved up three spots in no small part because Clayton had them eighth in the league. Seriously. He moved Washington ahead of the Vikings and Chargers on his ballot. Kuharsky and Sando didn't overreact to one game and left the Skins in a holding pattern at 16.
No. 16 New York Giants: The Giants also moved up three spots in the Rankings thanks to the help of AFC North blogger James Walker, who is new to the panel this season. Walker loved the win over the Panthers so much that he moved the Giants to 13. Sando and Kuharsky again took a wait-and-see approach with a No. 17 vote on their ballots, which are tabulated by a private accounting firm in Farmington, Conn.
No. 18 Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles dropped three spots because Sando showed no mercy following that 27-20 loss to the Packers. Kuharsky's 14 vote kept the Eagles in the hunt. After that debacle to open the season, I think the voters were actually kind to the Eagles. Perhaps it's the excitement over Michael Vick that prevented the Eagles from going into a free fall.
Regrettably, the AFC South has moved past the Beast in the rankings this week. Our self-appointed review panel (Tim Graham and myself) will continue to keep a close eye on Kuharsky's voting habits. He had the Jaguars ranked at least three spots higher than any other voter this week, which has caused us to arch our eyebrows slightly. It's worth pointing out, though, that he gave the Texans their lowest ranking after the big win over the Colts.