- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Week 14 was tough on the NFL's defending conference champions.
The Steelers opened the week's games with a pitiful prime-time defeat against the previously 1-11 Browns. The Cardinals closed the week's games by committing seven turnovers during an embarrassing defeat to the 49ers.
Way to represent, Super Bowl XLIII alumni.
Pittsburgh, ranked first in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings for Week 1, fell four more places to No. 19 in the Week 15 rankings. The Steelers have dropped 10 places since Week 12. Arizona, ranked ninth in Week 1, fell two spots from last week to No. 8.
The Steelers face the Packers and Ravens over the next two weeks. The Cardinals draw the Lions and Rams.
Overall, no one appears close to pressuring the Saints or Colts for the top two spots.
New Orleans held the No. 1 ranking overall on three of four ballots. I went with the Colts, but what happens if Indianapolis begins resting starters? It won't happen Thursday night against the Jaguars, coach Jim Caldwell said, so it's probably a topic for another week.
The chart shows my votes in the first column, followed by votes from John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Jeff Chadiha.
A look inside the rankings ...
Rising: The Ravens rose four spots, the largest gain from last week. The Browns, Jets and Eagles each rose three spots. The 49ers, Texans and Patriots rose two spots apiece. The Redskins, Bills, Bears, Dolphins and Packers each climbed one spot.
Falling: The Steelers fell four places, the largest drop from last week. The Seahawks dropped three spots. The Bengals, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Panthers and Raiders each dropped two places. The Broncos, Cowboys, Lions, Bucs and Rams fell one spot apiece.
Unchanged: Rankings for the Saints, Colts, Vikings, Chargers, Titans, Falcons and Chiefs did not change.
Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. Chicago prevailed over Seattle at No. 23 based on head-to-head performance.
Groupthink: All four panelists ranked the Vikings third, the Chargers fourth and the Chiefs 28th.
Agree to disagree: The Broncos generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes, six spots. Nine other teams generated a disparity of at least four spots:
Broncos (6): John Clayton ranked them seventh, higher than any other voter ranked them. Paul Kuharsky ranked them 13th, lower than any other voter ranked them.
Jaguars (5): Clayton 14th, Sando 19th.
Bears (5): Clayton 21st, Kuharsky 26th.
Redskins (5): Sando 22nd, Kuharsky 27th.
Packers (4): Kuharsky and Chadiha fifth, Clayton ninth.
Dolphins (4): Kuharsky 11th, Clayton 15th.
Titans (4): Sando 15th, Clayton 19th.
Texans (4): Sando 17th, Chadiha 21st.
49ers (4): Sando 18th, Clayton 22nd.
Seahawks (4): Kuharsky and Chadiha 22nd, Sando and Clayton 26th.
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 NFC East ranked 13.4 on average, higher than teams from any other division. Teams from the NFC West ranked 21.0, lower than teams from any other division.
A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least four spots since the Week 13 rankings:
Sando: Cardinals (-4), Steelers (-4), 49ers (+4), Redskins (+5)
Clayton: Eagles (+4), Redskins (+4)
Kuharsky: Ravens (+6)
Chadiha: Steelers (-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.
Week 14 was tough on the NFL's defending conference champions.The Steelers opened the week's games with a pitiful prime-time defeat against the previously 1-11 Browns.