- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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The San Francisco 49ers, coming off a 621-yard performance and a two-game stretch in which they outscored the opposition 79-3, gained ground on the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings.
But they still ranked only third heading into Week 6.
49ers' Most Yards Total Offense
This was despite my solo efforts to push them to the top. I was the only one of our five voters to rank the 49ers first this week. That was enough to vault San Francisco past Baltimore for the third spot. But if top-ranked Houston and No. 2 Atlanta remain unbeaten, the 49ers might need a convincing victory over the seventh-ranked and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants in Week 6 to gain any additional traction.
Two of our other voters, Dan Graziano and Ashley Fox, joined me in discussing where the 49ers stand for the video included with this item. We also touched on Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, who moved up nine spots after their comeback victory over Green Bay. That was the largest gain for any team from last week.
And now, a closer look at the rankings for this week:
Falling (15): Buffalo Bills (-6), Green Bay Packers (-4), Philadelphia Eagles (-4), Arizona Cardinals (-4), Denver Broncos (-4), San Diego Chargers (-3), Cincinnati Bengals (-3), Washington Redskins (-3), Tennessee Titans (-3), Kansas City Chiefs (-3), New York Jets (-2), Carolina Panthers (-2), Baltimore Ravens (-1), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1), Jacksonville Jaguars (-1).
Rising (12): Indianapolis Colts (+9), Miami Dolphins (+7), Pittsburgh Steelers (+6), Minnesota Vikings (+6), New Orleans Saints (+4), New York Giants (+3), Chicago Bears (+3), Dallas Cowboys (+2), San Francisco 49ers (+1), New England Patriots (+1), Seattle Seahawks (+1), St. Louis Rams (+1).
Deadlocked: We broke four ties this week. San Diego prevailed over Cincinnati, Miami prevailed over Detroit, Indianapolis prevailed over Tampa Bay and the New York Jets prevailed over Carolina. The tiebreakers are, in order, head-to-head results this season, overall record, which team won a game most recently and which team had the higher ranking previously.
Like minds: All five voters ranked Cleveland last, again. One spot separated high and low votes for Houston, Baltimore and New England.
Agree to disagree: Nine teams generated gaps of at least eight spots between highest and lowest votes. Detroit supplanted NFC North rival Minnesota as the most divisive team.
A look at all teams generating high-low disparities of at least eight spots in the rankings:
Lions (10): Graziano ranked them 15th, higher than any other voter ranked them. Jamison Hensley ranked them 25th, lower than any other voter ranked them.
Giants (9): Graziano fifth, John Clayton 14th.
Colts (9): Hensley 18th, Graziano 27th.
Vikings (8): Clayton sixth, Graziano 14th.
Packers (8): Graziano eighth, Clayton 16th.
Seahawks (8): Sando and Clayton 11th, Graziano 19th.
Broncos (8): Graziano 11th, Hensley 19th.
Rams (8): Hensley 13th, Graziano 21st.
Buccaneers (8): Clayton 19th, Fox 27th.
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 West ranked 11.4 on average, helping the division maintain its status as the highest-ranked of the eight. Next came the NFC North (12.1), NFC East (13.4), AFC North (15.0), NFC South (18.4), AFC East (19.2), AFC South (20.7) and AFC West (22.0).
A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least six spots since last week:
Sando: Packers (-6), Bills (-6), Saints (+6), Dolphins (+6), Steelers (+7), Colts (+7).
Clayton: Bears (+6), Steelers (+8).
Graziano: Dolphins (+6).
Hensley: Steelers (+6), Dolphins (+7), Colts (+8).
Fox: Bills (-8), Packers (-6), Cardinals (-6), Jets (-6), Steelers (+8), Saints (+8), Vikings (+8), Dolphins (+8), Colts (+10).
For download: An Excel file -- available 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 defeated this season.
For example, Baltimore outranks Philadelphia even though the Eagles defeated the Ravens.
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.