- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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The Chicago Bears continued their steady climb in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings for Week 13.
As shaky as Chicago once appeared, there's no denying the Bears' revival. Their victory over Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles helped move them into the No. 7 spot, up from No. 12 last week and No. 17 the week before. The Bears were ranked sixth heading into Week 4.
The Atlanta Falcons held onto the top spot with their close victory over Green Bay. The Packers and Bears were tied at No. 7, but Chicago won the tiebreaker based on head-to-head results. The NFC North rivals play again in Week 17.
And now, a closer look at the rankings heading into Week 13 ...
Rising (11): Bears (+5), Miami Dolphins (+4), St. Louis Rams (+4), Houston Texans (+3), San Diego Chargers (+3), New Orleans Saints (+2), Minnesota Vikings (+2), New York Jets (+1), Kansas City Chiefs (+1), San Francisco 49ers (+1), Buffalo Bills (+1).
Falling (13): Indianapolis Colts (-5), Oakland Raiders (-4), Eagles (-3), Washington Redskins (-3), Tennessee Titans (-2), Dallas Cowboys (-2), Tampa Bay Bucs (-2), Baltimore Ravens (-1), Green Bay Packers (-1), Jacksonville Jaguars (-1), Seattle Seahawks (-1), Denver Broncos (-1), Cleveland Browns (-1).
Deadlocked: We broke three ties this week. Chicago prevailed over Green Bay at No. 7 based on head-to-head results, the first tiebreaker. The Giants prevailed over San Diego at No. 10 based on their superior overall record, the second tiebreaker. Seattle prevailed over Minnesota at No. 22 based on its superior overall record.
Like minds: All four voters ranked the Bengals, Lions and Panthers as the bottom three teams.
Agree to disagree: Five teams generated disparities of at least five rankings among voters.
Titans (7): Kuharsky ranked them 16th, higher than any voter ranked them. Walker ranked them 23rd, lower than any voter ranked them.
Seahawks (6): Walker 19th, Sando 25th.
Jets (5): Kuharsky first, Walker sixth.
Rams (5): Sando 16th, Clayton 21st.
49ers (5): Sando 22nd, Kuharsky 27th.
Power rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
Ranking the divisions: Teams from the AFC East overtook their NFC South counterparts as the highest-ranked teams from a 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 five spots since last week:
Sando: Bears (+6), Rams (+6), Colts (-5)
Clayton: Bears (+5), Texans (+5), Colts (-5)
Kuharsky: Chargers (+6), Raiders (-5)
Walker: Dolphins (+6), Raiders (-5)
For download: An Excel file -- available here -- showing how each voter voted this week and in past weeks.
The worksheet labeled "sked" shows remaining schedule strengths based on current power rankings.
The Bengals, Bears and Cowboys each play a league-high four games against teams currently ranked in the top 10. The Colts, Broncos, Chiefs and Cardinals play none. The Bengals' remaining opponents average a 9.5 ranking, highest in the league. The Cardinals' opponents average a league-low 26.2.
The Steelers' remaining opponents have 2.5 median victories this season, the lowest figure in the league. The team does play two teams ranked in the top 10, however.
The file also includes a "powerflaws" sheet pointing out potential flaws in voters' thinking by showing how many higher-ranked opponents each team defeated this season. For example, the Titans and Texans have defeated a league-high four teams currently ranked higher than them. The Bills are the only team ranked lower than 14th without at least one victory over a higher-ranked team.
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.