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Power Rankings revisited: Week 15

12/20/2010

A weekly review of how teams performed in relation to last week’s Power Rankings (with new rankings scheduled for Tuesday):

ESPN.com's Power Rankings panelists seek each week to bring order and meaning to an unpredictable NFL world.

We'll attempt to do the same after the league veered past unpredictable into the bizarre during a wild Week 15 featuring:

The top two teams from last week, New England and Atlanta, won in less-than-impressive fashion against teams with quarterback issues. The third and fourth teams -- Pittsburgh and New Orleans -- both lost. Four of the five lowest-ranked teams from last week won.

The chart shows how we voted last week, with red lettering identifying teams that lost in Week 15.

The reckoning: Eight games featured lower-ranked teams beating higher-ranked teams. Let's take a closer look at them ...

  • (32) Carolina 19, (27) Arizona 12: Jonathan Stewart became the seventh running back to rush for at least 100 yards against the Cardinals this season.

  • (31) Cincinnati 19, (21) Cleveland 17: Would two more Browns defeats be enough to get Mike Holmgren onto the sideline?

  • (29) Detroit 23, (13) Tampa Bay 20: The Bucs are limping toward the finish line and looking like a team that could lose to anyone, including Seattle in Week 16.

  • (28) Buffalo 17, (16) Miami 14: The Dolphins, more than any team, move up and down wildly on my weekly ballots.

  • (22) Tennessee 31, (19) Houston 17: The Texans have the same record through 14 games as they had in 2003, their second season.

  • (15) Indianapolis 34, (11) Jacksonville 24: Peyton Manning has four touchdowns without an interception over his last two games after throwing 11 picks in his previous three.

  • (9) New York Jets 22, (3) Pittsburgh Steelers 17: The Jets allowed only 76 return yards.

  • (5) Baltimore 30, (4) New Orleans 24: Ravens reach double-digit victories for the second time in three seasons under John Harbaugh.

Still to play: Chicago and Minnesota on "Monday Night Football" (ESPN, 8:20 p.m. ET).

My early favorite for the No. 1 spot: New England.