- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
ESPN's NFL power rankings have a slightly different look for Week 7.
The Colts remained in the top spot and the Rams stayed No. 32. But if you check those ugly mugs atop the how-we-voted chart, you'll see Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. filling in for 2009 father-of-the-year candidate Paul Kuharsky.
Williamson's participation while the Kuharsky family welcomes its newest member arms the rest of us with a needed scapegoat.
Don't like where your team stands in the rankings this week? Hey, blame Williamson.
The chart shows my votes in column one, with votes from John Clayton, Williamson and Jeffri Chadiha thereafter.
The Saints charged into the second spot overall, leaping past the previously No. 2 Giants and still No. 3 Vikings, although the feeling wasn't unanimous. Clayton left the Vikings second overall, with the Saints third. I considered doing the same before moving the Saints into the second spot.
The Chargers actually moved up a couple of spots from last week despite their defeat Monday night.
As much as I'd like to blame Williamson for that one, some of that is on me. I wasn't necessarily going to knock them down significantly for losing to the Broncos, a top-5 team, in a hard-fought game. Also, the rankings are relative, not absolute. Teams immediately behind the Chargers on my ballot didn't quite seem ready to move up the board significantly.
A look inside the rankings ...
Rising: The Steelers and Texans rose five spots apiece. The Patriots and Raiders each jumped four spots. The Cardinals rose three. The Saints, Bears, Chiefs and Chargers each rose two spots. The Broncos, Falcons, Packers, Panthers and Bills jumped one spot apiece.
Falling: The Jets dropped nine spots. The Eagles fell five. The Titans, Redskins, Seahawks, Bengals and Giants each dropped three places. The Dolphins and Cowboys fell two. The Browns dropped one.
Unchanged: Rankings for the Colts, Vikings, Ravens, 49ers, Jaguars, Lions, Bucs and Rams did not change.
Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. The Texans prevailed over the Jets for the 17th spot because they won in Week 6.
Groupthink: All four panelists voted the Giants fifth. Three voted the Broncos third.
Agree to disagree: The Texans generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes -- nine spots -- following their victory over the Bengals. Six other teams generated disparities of at least five spots:
Texans (9): Williamson ranked them 12th, higher than any other voter ranked them. Clayton ranked them 21st, lower than any other voter ranked them.
Packers (8): Sando 11th, Williamson 19th.
Bengals (6): Clayton seventh, Williamson 13th.
Jets (6): Clayton 14th, Williamson 20th.
Patriots (5): Kuharsky fourth, Clayton ninth.
Cowboys (5): Clayton 15th, Sando 20th.
Browns (5): Sando 26th, Chadiha 31st.
Power rankings histories: Check out these colorful layered graphs showing where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
Ranking the divisions: Teams from the NFC North and AFC North ended the NFC East's long run as the highest-rated division on average. Blame the Redskins for that one, NFC East fans. 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 four spots since the Week 6 rankings:
Sando: Texans (+7), Bills (+6), Steelers (+5), Raiders (+4), Seahawks (-5), Eagles (-6), Titans (-8), Jets (-11)
Clayton: Chiefs (+4), Patriots (+4), Eagles (-4), Seahawks (-4)
Williamson: first time voting
Chadiha: Steelers (+4), Giants (-4), Redskins (-4), Jets (-6)
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 ranked one spot below the Steelers even though Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh earlier in the 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.