Houston's victory over the Indianapolis Colts convinced John Clayton to drop Indy from first to seventh on his ballot, clearing the way for New Orleans even though Green Bay was the new top team in Clayton's eyes. The Saints ranked first on the remaining three ballots.
One week isn't much to go on, but it's all we've got beyond the perceptions -- and misperceptions -- built up over the NFL offseason. The Texans, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs remained lower-ranked than teams they defeated.
The Seahawks' performance against the San Francisco 49ers showed they could function offensively against a strong defensive front seven despite playing with a left tackle acquired about a week earlier. Other in-division victories -- Washington over Dallas, Kansas City over San Diego, Houston over Indianapolis -- also demanded attention. The Pittsburgh Steelers' victory without Ben Roethlisberger stood out, as did injuries affecting starting quarterbacks for Detroit, Philadelphia and Carolina.
What to do?
Let's take a deeper look inside the latest rankings ...
Rising: The Steelers jumped eight spots to No. 10, the largest gain from Week 1. The Texans and Titans each jumped seven spots. The Patriots moved up six and the Seahawks climbed five. The Chiefs improved four spots. The Ravens, Giants and Redskins each moved up three places. The Bucs moved up two. The Cardinals, Bills, Packers, Jaguars, Saints and Rams each moved up one spot.
Falling: The 49ers dropped seven places, the largest fall from last week. The Falcons fell six. The Bengals fell five. The Chargers, Dolphins, Colts and Cowboys fell four spots apiece. The Eagles, Raiders, Broncos, Browns and Panthers fell three. The Jets fell two. The Bears, Lions and Vikings fell one place each.
Unchanged: No rankings were unchanged from last week.
Deadlocked: We broke no ties this week.
Groupthink: Three of four panelists had the Saints first. Three had the Packers third. Three had the Browns 31st.
Agree to disagree: The Steelers generated the largest gap between high and low votes. Clayton had them sixth. Paul Kuharsky had them 15th. Seven other teams produced disparities of at least seven places:
Steelers (9): Clayton sixth, Kuharsky 15th.
Redskins (8): Clayton eighth, Sando and Kuharsky 16th.
Eagles (8): Kuharsky 14th, Sando 22nd.
Chiefs (8): James Walker 18th, Kuharsky 26th.
Titans (7): Sando and Walker eighth, Clayton 15th.
Jets (7): Kuharsky eighth, Sando 15th.
Dolphins (7): Walker 11th, Clayton 18th.
Bengals (7): Clayton 13th, Kuharsky 20th.
Power rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
Ranking the divisions: The AFC South overtook the NFC East as the highest-ranked division on average. The chart below shows how each voter ranked each division on average. Highest votes in red. Lowest votes in blue.
A voter-by-voter look at changes of more than five spots since last week:
Sando: 49ers (-8), Seahawks (+6), Patriots (+7), Texans (+7), Titans (+7), Steelers (+7)
Clayton: Cowboys (-9), Falcons (-8), 49ers (-7), Colts (-6), Patriots (+6), Redskins (+6), Ravens (+7), Texans (+10), Steelers (+11)
Walker: 49ers (-10), Falcons (-9), Chargers (-6), Bengals (-6), Broncos (-6)
For download: An Excel file -- available here -- showing how each voter voted this week and in past weeks.
The file includes a "powerflaws" sheet pointing out potential flaws in voters' thinking by showing how many higher-ranked opponents each team defeated this season.
A quick primer on the "powerflaws" sheet:
Column Y features team rankings.
Column Z shows how many times a team has defeated higher-ranked teams.
Change the rankings in column Y as you see fit.
Re-sort column Y in ascending order (1 to 32) using the standard Excel pull-down menu atop the column.
The information in column Z, which reflects potential ranking errors, will change (with the adjusted total highlighted in yellow atop the column).
The lower the figure in that yellow box, the fewer conflicts.