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Tuesday, October 4, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: How they voted

By Mike Sando

Stability at the top marked ESPN's NFL Power Rankings following Week 4.

The top five teams, led by Green Bay, remained unchanged. The Packers have been No. 1 all the way, and that's not likely to change while they remain undefeated.

Much has changed since our preseason rankings were published Sept. 6, however. A quick look at the five teams whose standings have fluctuated by at least 15 spots in the past month:
And now, a closer look at the rankings heading into Week 5 ...

Rising (10): Tennessee Titans (+7), Cincinnati Bengals (+6), Washington Redskins (+4), San Francisco 49ers (+4), Kansas City Chiefs (+4), Tampa Bay Bucs (+3), San Diego Chargers (+2), New York Giants (+2), Houston Texans (+2), Indianapolis Colts (+1).

Falling (14): New York Jets (-7), Dallas Cowboys (-6), Buffalo Bills (-3), Philadelphia Eagles (-3), Pittsburgh Steelers (-3), Carolina Panthers (-2), Miami Dolphins (-2), Minnesota Vikings (-2), Oakland Raiders (-2), Cleveland Browns (-1), Denver Broncos (-1), Jacksonville Jaguars (-1), Seattle Seahawks (-1), St. Louis Rams (-1).

Unchanged (8): Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints.

Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. Miami prevailed over St. Louis at No. 31 based on the fourth and final tiebreaker (previous ranking). The first three tiebreakers -- head-to-head results this season, overall record this season and which team won most recently this season -- proved indecisive.

Like minds: All five voters ranked the Packers first. Four ranked the Patriots second. Four ranked the Chiefs 28th.

Agree to disagree: Nine spots separated highest and lowest votes for the Chargers and Raiders, the biggest gap this week. A look at the five teams generating gaps of at least seven spots between high and low votes: Power rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.

Ranking the divisions: The NFC North held onto the highest average ranking (13.1) despite dropping from 11.8 last week. The NFC South overtook the AFC East for the second spot. 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: 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: