Power Rankings: How the voters voted

September, 21, 2010
9/21/10
2:00
PM ET
The Minnesota Vikings, so close to knocking off New Orleans with a Super Bowl berth on the line last season, appeared closer to nodding off in Week 2.

Brett Favre needs more than a nap. He needs receivers. This wasn't the first time in recent seasons Favre has appeared finished. Perhaps he can get it going again.

In the meantime, the Vikings fell hard from sixth to 18th in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings, the first double-digit decline since the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped from sixth to 16th early last season.

The Steelers rose five spots this week even without Ben Roethlisberger. They're one of eight 2-0 teams. New Orleans and Green Bay haven't surprised by winning their first two, but the quarterback-deprived Steelers weren't a sure bet. The Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also faced longer odds based on talent, schedules or both.

The Bears stood out as the team our four panelists -- me, John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and James Walker -- couldn't quite figure out. Clayton had them sixth. Kuharsky had them 16th. That worked out to a No. 12 overall ranking.

Let's dig deeper inside the rankings heading into Week 3 ...

Rising (13): The Bears jumped 10 spots, the Dolphins jumped eight and the Bucs jumped seven. The Cincinnati Bengals climbed six, the Steelers and New York Jets each rose five and the Texans jumped four. The Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons each improved three places. The Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns rose two apiece. The Indianapolis Colts rose one spot.

Falling (13): The Vikings dropped 12 spots and the Dallas Cowboys fell nine. The Tennessee Titans declined by six. The Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots each fell five places. The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers each dropped three spots. The Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers fell two. The Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers moved down one place apiece.

Unchanged (6): Rankings did not change for the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins.

Deadlocked: We broke no ties this week.

Groupthink: The Saints were a unanimous choice for the No. 1 overall spot. Three of four panelists had the Packers second and the Dolphins eighth.

Agree to disagree: The Bears generated the largest gap between high and low votes. Clayton had them sixth. Kuharsky had them 16th. Five other teams produced disparities of at least six places:
  • Bears (10): Clayton sixth, Kuharsky 16th.
  • Ravens (9): Kuharsky third, Clayton 12th.
  • Steelers (7): Clayton second, Kuharsky ninth.
  • 49ers (7): Sando 20th, Clayton 27th.
  • Chargers (6): Kuharsky 11th, Clayton 17th.
  • Eagles (6): Kuharsky 12th, Walker 18th.
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 was the highest-ranked division on average for a second consecutive week. 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: Vikings (-12), Titans (-7), Steelers (+6), Bears (+9)
  • Clayton: Vikings (-10), Ravens (-8), 49ers (-8), Cowboys (-7), Patriots (-7), Chargers (-7), Redskins (-6), Bucs (+7), Dolphins (+10), Bears (+14)
  • Kuharsky: Cowboys (-12), Vikings (-12), Steelers (+6), Bears (+9), Chiefs (+9), Bucs (+9).
  • Walker: Vikings (-11), Cowboys (-8), Titans (-8), Giants (-7), Steelers (+6), Bengals (+7), Bears (+8)
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.

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