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Power rankings: How the voters voted

9/29/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Redskins, Panthers and Chargers were the toughest teams to figure in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings for Week 4.

We know this: For the first time in a long time, no one could reasonably consider Detroit the worst team in the league. The Lions' victory over the Redskins made sure of it.

And while the Ravens held the top overall spot, look out for the Giants. Paul Kuharsky ranked them first and no team has enjoyed a higher average ranking -- 2.8 -- since the 2009 rankings debuted in May.

The chart shows team-by-team votes for all four ESPN.com panelists (left to right: me, John Clayton, Kuharsky and Jeff Chadiha).

A look inside the rankings ...

Rising: The Bengals surged 13 spots to a No. 11 ranking as their victory over the Steelers seemed to validate earlier successes. The Broncos rose seven spots to No. 13 after improbably opening the season with a 3-0 record. The Jaguars moved up five spots to 22nd. The Saints, Patriots and Lions each moved up three spots. The Jets and Packers rose two places. The Colts rose one spot.

Falling: The Steelers, ranked No. 1 three times this offseason and again after the regular-season opener, plummeted 10 spots to No. 16 in the latest rankings. The Dolphins fell five spots to No. 24 after their record fell to 0-3. The Falcons remained in the top 10 despite falling four spots. The Bucs, Redskins and Texans each fell three spots. The Titans, Cowboys and 49ers each fell two spots. The Raiders, Seahawks, Cardinals, Chargers and Giants each fell one spot.

Unchanged: Rankings for the Ravens, Vikings, Eagles, Bears, Bills, Panthers, Browns, Chiefs and Rams remained unchanged.

Deadlocked: We broke five ties this week. In each case, the team with the highest vote from an individual panelist prevailed. Tiebreakers favored the Saints over the Vikings at No. 4, the Broncos over the Bears at No. 13, the Jaguars over the Seahawks at No. 22, the Raiders over the Lions at No. 27 and the Chiefs over the Bucs at No. 30.

Groupthink: Three panelists ranked the Ravens first. Three ranked the Patriots seventh. Three ranked the Steelers 15th. Three ranked the Bills 21st. Three ranked the Rams last.

Agree to disagree: The Redskins generated the widest gap -- nine spots -- between highest and lowest votes. Ten other teams generated disparities of at least five spots:

  • Redskins (9): Clayton ranked them 20th, higher than any other voter ranked them. Sando ranked them 29th, lower than any voter ranked them.

  • Panthers (8): Chadiha 19th, Kuharsky 27th.

  • Chargers (7): Kuharsky ninth, Clayton 16th.

  • Broncos (6): Clayton and Chadiha 11th, Kuharsky 17th.

  • Texans (6): Kuharsky 18th, Clayton 24th.

  • Jaguars (6): Sando 19th, Chadiha 25th.

  • Giants (5): Kuharsky first, Clayton sixth.

  • Bears (5): Sando and Clayton 12th, Chadiha 17th.

  • 49ers (5): Kuharsky 12th, Clayton 17th.

  • Cardinals (5): Sando 18th, Chadiha 23rd.

  • Dolphins (5): Chadiha 21st, Clayton 26th.

Power rankings histories: We now offer colorful layered graphs showing where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season. Seriously.

Ranking the divisions: NFC East teams ranked 13.3 on average, down from last week but still higher than any other division's teams. NFC West teams fell below AFC West teams to become the lowest-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 at least six spots since the Week 3 rankings:

Sando: Bengals (+11), Jaguars (+8), Packers (+6), Redskins (-7), Steelers (-10)

Clayton: Broncos (+13), Bengals (+11), Texans (-8), Steelers (-10)

Kuharsky: Bengals (+8), Broncos (+7), Patriots (+6), Falcons (-6), Steelers (-10)

Chadiha: Bengals (+12), Steelers (-7)

For download: An Excel file -- available here or 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 has defeated. For example, the Bengals rank one spot lower than the Packers even though they won at Green Bay.

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.