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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
NFL Power Rankings: How they voted

By Mike Sando

An NFC West team other than the one recently appearing in the Super Bowl ranks No. 1 in ESPN's first NFL Power Rankings of the 2013 offseason.

Call us suckers for the excitement of free agency and the trade market, but the Seattle Seahawks' recent aggressive moves apparently resonated with our panelists. John Clayton, AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley and I ranked Seattle atop our ballots. Ashley Fox had the Seahawks second. NFC East blogger Dan Graziano had them third.

That was enough to move the Seahawks into the No. 1 spot and just ahead of the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. The 1-2 punch helped the NFC West stand as the highest-rated division on average despite a No. 29 ranking for the Arizona Cardinals. The St. Louis Rams were 15th.

Seahawks and 49ers fans already have been going at it on the blog. The teams will ultimately settle this debate on the field. For now, here are a few reasons why I gave Seattle a slight edge on my ballot:
And now,  a closer look at the rankings one week into free agency:

Falling (15): New York Jets (-6), Washington Redskins (-5), Minnesota Vikings (-5), Buffalo Bills (-5), Dallas Cowboys (-3), Denver Broncos (-2), Atlanta Falcons (-2), Indianapolis Colts (-2), Carolina Panthers (-2), Arizona Cardinals (-2), New England Patriots (-1), San Diego Chargers (-1), Cleveland Browns (-1), Tennessee Titans (-1), Jacksonville Jaguars (-1).

Rising (13): Kansas City Chiefs (+8), New Orleans Saints (+7), Detroit Lions (+6), Seattle Seahawks (+4), Philadlephia Eagles (+3), Houston Texans (+2), Baltimore Ravens (+2), Chicago Bears (+2), San Francisco 49ers (+1), Cincinnati Bengals (+1), St. Louis Rams (+1), Pittsburgh Steelers (+1), Miami Dolphins (+1).

Unchanged (4): Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders.

Deadlocked: We broke one tie. Denver prevailed over Atlanta for the third spot. The Broncos were ranked higher in the previous poll.

Like minds: Two votes separated highest and lowest votes for Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and Tampa Bay.

Agree to disagree: Twelve votes separated highest and lowest votes for Minnesota. Eleven votes separated highest and lowest votes for Pittsburgh. A look at the five teams generating high-low disparities of at least eight spots on our voters' ballots: 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 West remained the highest-ranked division with a 12.3 average ranking for its teams. That was up slightly from a 12.8 average at regular season's end. NFC South teams were second this time with a 13.9 average ranking, followed by the NFC North (14.2), AFC North (15.1), NFC East (17.4), AFC South (18.8), AFC West (20.1) and AFC East (20.5).

A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least five spots since last season: