Tuesday, October 25, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: How they voted
By Mike Sando
Four teams ranked third through ninth in ESPN's previous NFL Power Rankings lost in Week 7.
Three of them remained in the top nine anyway when John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky, Ashley Fox and James Walker joined me in casting ballots this week.
As bad as some of these highly ranked teams looked, voters had trouble finding worthy alternatives following an unimpressive week. The Chicago Bears and idle New York Giants crept closer to cracking the top 10, but voters weren't ready to move them any higher just yet.
"The Giants are the biggest smoke-and-mirrors team in the NFL," said Walker, who ranked them 16th, lower than anyone else ranked them. "They're a 4-2 team that's probably going to be 5-2 after this week, but I can't name two things they do well on a consistent basis."
The Giants nonetheless ranked 11th. They have been between 10th and 12th four times in the past five weeks. They're home against Miami before playing road games against No. 2 New England and No. 4 San Francisco.
New Orleans moved up two spots to No. 3 after the Saints' 62-7 victory over NCAA Division III Indianapolis. Baltimore dropped three spots to No. 6 after losing to Jacksonville. The Chargers remained in the top 10 for a fifth consecutive week despite losing. The Bears cracked the top 10 for the first time since Week 3.
Green Bay remained the only team to hold the No. 1 spot this season, with New England ranking second for the sixth time in eight rankings this season.
A closer look at the voting this week ...
Rising (13): Atlanta Falcons (+5), Houston Texans (+5), Chicago Bears (+4), Jacksonville Jaguars (+4), Buffalo Bills (+3), Dallas Cowboys (+3), Kansas City Chiefs (+3), New York Jets (+3), Pittsburgh Steelers (+3), Carolina Panthers (+2), Cincinnati Bengals (+2), New Orleans Saints (+2), St. Louis Rams (+1).
Falling (12): Oakland Raiders (-6), Tennessee Titans (-6), Tampa Bay Bucs (-5), Washington Redskins (-5), Seattle Seahawks (-4), Arizona Cardinals (-3), Baltimore Ravens (-3), Detroit Lions (-2), Philadelphia Eagles (-2), San Diego Chargers (-2), Cleveland Browns (-1), Miami Dolphins (-1).
Unchanged (7): Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers.
Deadlocked: We broke no ties this week.
Like minds: All five voters ranked the Packers first and the Patriots second. Only one spot separated high and low votes for Indianapolis and New Orleans.
Agree to disagree: The Giants generated the largest disparity between highest and lowest votes. At least seven spots separated high and low votes for the following seven teams:
Power rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
- Giants (9): Paul Kuharsky ranked them seventh, higher than any other voter ranked them. James Walker ranked them 16th, lower than any other voter ranked them.
- Bengals (8): Kuharsky 12th, Clayton and Walker 20th.
- Cowboys (8): Walker 13th, Kuharsky 21st.
- Jets (8): Fox seventh, Clayton 15th.
- Raiders (8): Kuharsky 10th, Sando 18th.
Ranking the divisions: Teams from the NFC North ranked 12.2 on average, up slightly from last week and enough for the division to rank first on average. Teams from the AFC North remained second at 12.9, also up slightly. The NFC West, 0-3 in Week 7, dropped slightly below the AFC South as the last-ranked division. 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.
- Sando: Raiders (-9), Titans (-8), Chargers (-6), Falcons (+6), Texans (+6), Chiefs (+7), Jets (+8).
- Clayton: Texans (+5).
- Kuharsky: Buccaneers (-5), Redskins (-5), Bears (+5), Chiefs (+5)
- Walker: Raiders (-6), Buccaneers (-6), Titans (-6), Seahawks (-5), Falcons (+6), Texans (+7).
- Fox: Titans (-8), Raiders (-7), Redskins (-6), Seahawks (-5), Buccaneers (-5), Falcons (+5), Texans (+5), Chiefs (+5), Bears (+6), Cowboys (+6), Jets (+6).
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.
None of the top five teams this week has defeated a team ranked higher in the standings. Oakland, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville are the only teams with more than one victory over a team presently ranked higher than them. Each owns two such victories.
Baltimore and Buffalo are the only teams in the top 10 with a victory over a higher-ranked team. The sixth-ranked Ravens beat the No. 5 Steelers. The seventh-ranked Bills beat the No. 2 Patriots.
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.