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Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Power rankings: How the voters voted

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Rank Team Mike Sando John Clayton Paul Kuharsky Jeff Chadiha
1 NO 1 2 1 1
2 IND 2 1 2 2
3 MIN 3 3 3 4
4 DEN 4 4 5 3
5 NE 6 5 4 5
6 CIN 7 6 6 6
7 PIT 5 7 8 7
8 DAL 9 8 7 9
9 PHI 11 9 9 8
10 BAL 8 13 10 11
11 ATL 10 10 12 12
12 GB 12 14 14 14
13 ARI 15 11 15 15
14 HOU 17 18 11 10
15 NYG 16 12 13 16
16 SD 13 17 19 13
17 CHI 14 15 20 17
18 NYJ 21 16 18 18
19 SF 18 20 16 19
20 MIA 20 19 17 20
21 JAC 25 21 21 21
22 BUF 22 22 22 23
23 CAR 19 23 23 24
24 SEA 24 24 25 22
25 WAS 26 25 24 25
26 TEN 23 26 26 26
27 OAK 27 27 29 27
28 KC 28 28 28 29
29 DET 31 31 27 28
30 STL 30 29 31 30
31 CLE 29 30 30 31
32 TB 32 32 32 32

The New Orleans Saints are No. 1 in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings for the first time, rising one spot to overtake the Colts.

Both teams remain unbeaten heading into Week 9.

I moved the Saints past the Colts on my ballot and that was enough to swing the voting at the top. Colleague John Clayton left Indianapolis in the top spot and the Colts are certainly qualified. I just felt as though the Saints' recent victories against superior competition made them more deserving this week, particularly after the Colts struggled to beat a 49ers team that broke in a new quarterback and lost its left tackle on the first play.

At the bottom, Tampa Bay became a unanimous choice at No. 32 after the Rams won for the first time this season. St. Louis ranked as high as 29th on one ballot.

The chart shows my votes in column one, with votes from Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Jeffri Chadiha thereafter.

A look inside the rankings ...

Rising: The Ravens jumped four spots to No. 10 after handing the Broncos their first defeat of the season, the largest gain from the Week 8 rankings. The Texans, Eagles and Titans each rose three spots. The Rams rose two. The Bears, Panthers, 49ers, Cowboys, Packers, Saints and Vikings each rose one spot.

Falling: The Giants plummeted seven spots to No. 15, easily the largest drop from the Week 8 rankings. They have fallen from second to fifth to eighth to 15th in recent weeks. The Lions, Cardinals and Jets each fell three places. The Bucs, Colts, Browns, Broncos, Seahawks and Dolphins each dropped one spot.

Unchanged: Rankings for the Chargers, Jaguars, Steelers, Patriots, Falcons, Redskins, Raiders, Bengals, Bills and Chiefs did not change.

Deadlocked: We broke four ties this week. The Cardinals prevailed over the Texans for the 13th spot because they beat Houston. The Jets prevailed over the 49ers for the 18th spot because they have a better overall record. The Bills prevailed over the Panthers at No. 22 because they beat Carolina. The Rams prevailed over the Browns for the 30th spot because they won more recently.

Groupthink: All four panelists voted the Bucs 32nd. Three voted the Chiefs 28th, the Raiders 27th, the Titans 26th, the Bills 22nd, the Jaguars 21st, the Cardinals 15th, the Packers 14th, the Bengals sixth, Vikings third, the Colts second and the Saints first.

Agree to disagree: The Texans generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes -- eight spots -- following their victory over the Bills. Five other teams generated disparities of at least five spots: 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 AFC North overtook teams from the NFC East as the highest-rated division on average. The chart below shows how each voter ranked each division on average. Highest votes in red. Lowest votes in blue.
Breakdown By Division
Voter AFC
East
AFC
North
AFC
South
AFC
West
NFC
East
NFC
North
NFC
South
NFC
West
Mike Sando 17.25 12.25 16.75 18 15.5 15 15.5 21.75
John Clayton 15.5 14 16.5 19 13.5 15.75 16.75 21
Paul Kuharsky 15.25 13.5 15 20.25 13.25 16 17 21.75
Jeff Chadiha 16.5 13.75 14.75 18 14.5 15.75 17.25 21.5
Average 16.1 13.4 15.8 18.8 14.2 15.6 16.6 21.5
Rank 5 1 4 7 2 3 6 8

A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least four spots since the Week 8 rankings:

Sando: Cardinals (-7), Giants (-7), Lions (-5), Jets (-4), Panthers (+5), Titans (+8)

Clayton: Giants (-7), Titans (+4)

Kuharsky: Jets (-9), Giants (-6), Cardinals (-4), Ravens (+5), Eagles (+5), Texans (+7)

Chadiha: Giants (-7), Packers (-4), Cowboys (+5)

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.

A quick primer on the "powerflaws" sheet: