ESPN's Power Rankings might not be a two-team race at the top for long.
"I'd put Minnesota at the top," said Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who would know.
A former biological sciences major at Stanford, Atogwe knows his stuff. He also speaks from experience. His Rams have faced the top three teams in our power rankings.
"Right now, the Vikings are hitting on every cylinder possible and their defense has always been good," said Atogwe, who ranks tied for third in the NFL with 15 interceptions since the start of the 2007 season. "Having played them, that might have been the only game where I felt we might have been outmatched a little bit with the skill players they had and how effectively they execute."
Atogwe ranked the Colts second and the Saints third.
"The Saints, they have had a number of turnovers that I believe will cost them," Atogwe said. "Indy is pretty traditionally good at taking care of the ball, even though Peyton Manning threw a couple interceptions (Sunday). I think that will be the only thing that separates the two as far as who is better than who."
The case Atogwe made wasn't quite enough to persuade me to move one of the 10-0 teams out of the top spot, but that could change.
A look inside the rankings (the chart shows my votes, followed by those of John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Jeff Chadiha) ...
Rising: The Giants rose five spots to No. 11, the largest gain from last week. The Packers, Jaguars and Titans each rose three spots. The Cardinals, Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles and Lions each rose two spots. The Patriots, Dolphins and Chiefs each rose one spot.
Falling: The Texans fell five spots to No. 18, the largest drop from last week. The Ravens and Broncos each dropped four spots. The Steelers and Bengals dropped three apiece. The Falcons fell two. The Rams, Bucs, Bills, Jets, Panthers and 49ers each fell one spot.
Unchanged: Rankings for the Saints, Colts, Vikings, Bears, Redskins, Seahawks, Raiders and Browns did not change.
Deadlocked: We broke two ties this week. The Saints prevailed over the Colts on the fourth tiebreaker (previous ranking). The Dolphins prevailed over the Texans at No. 17 on the third tiebreaker (which team won most recently this season).
Groupthink: All four panelists ranked the Vikings third, the Patriots fourth, and the Browns 32nd. Three ranked the Bengals seventh, the Cowboys eighth and the Steelers ninth.
Agree to disagree: The Jaguars and Falcons generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes, six spots. Three other teams generated disparities of at least three spots:
Jaguars (6): Chadiha ranked them 12th, higher than any other panelist ranked them. Sando ranked them 18th, lower than any other panelist ranked them.
Falcons (6): Kuharsky 12th, Chadiha 18th.
Ravens (5): Sando 12th, Kuharsky 17th.
Packers (4): Chadiha 10th, Kuharsky 14th.
Texans (4): Clayton and Chadiha 15th, Sando and Kuharsky 19th.
Power rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
Ranking the divisions: Teams from the AFC South ranked 12.8 on average, higher than teams from any other division. Teams from the NFC West ranked 20.4, lower than teams from any other division.
A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least four spots since the Week 11 rankings:
Sando: Panthers (-7), Texans (-5), Broncos (-4), Steelers (-4), Giants (+6)
Clayton: Falcons (-5)
Kuharsky: Texans (-7), Ravens (-4), Chargers (+4), Eagles (+4)
Chadiha: Broncos (-5), Falcons (-5), Titans (+4), Packers (+4), Eagles (+4), Jaguars (+5)
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:
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.