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Why I stood by Giants in power rankings

12/16/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Our power rankings for Week 16 should be popping onto the site -- with voter-by-voter breakdowns on this blog -- sometime around 2 p.m. ET.

In the meantime, I'll get a head start in addressing the toughest decision I faced in putting together rankings late Monday night. I wound up leaving the Giants in the top spot even after their less-than-impressive showing at Dallas. A few thoughts on why:

The Giants, more than any team in the league, have earned the benefit of the doubt. A road defeat against a talented and desperate divisional opponent isn't unforgivable.

Yes, but what about the Steelers? I was about to rank them first when the replay official initiated a challenge. The evidence wasn't necessarily conclusive, but hey, certainty is in the eye of the beholder.

More seriously, the Steelers were indeed impressive, resilient and resourceful during their final drive against the Ravens. But was that final touchdown a legitimate touchdown? It was if you took referee Walt Coleman's word for it, and his word was the one that counted. But plenty of reasonable people (and some unreasonable ones, no doubt) weren't so sure.

I couldn't quite move the Steelers into the top overall spot after such a close call. The Giants' earlier victory at Pittsburgh also stuck in my mind a bit.

The Titans, likewise, did not seem worthy of moving past the Giants into the top spot. Again, losing on the road against a division opponent is going to happen. That's why I didn't mark down the Titans much. But moving them into the top spot following a defeat didn't seem right.

I could have moved the Panthers all the way to the top spot, but there's no rush. They visit the Giants in Week 16. I'll move down the Giants if they lose that game at home. Until then, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

One other note: I did move up the Falcons into the top 10 after their victory over the Bucs. Quite a few people thought I ranked them too low last week. I promised to move them up if they beat Tampa Bay.

NFC West watch: I knocked the Cardinals out of the top 15 after their least impressive home performance of the season.