Tuesday, December 6, 2011
NFL Power Rankings: How they voted
By Mike Sando
Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos keep turning skeptics into believers. Even those not yet convinced have had to acknowledge the Broncos' recent successes.
Denver has climbed steadily in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings from 28th entering Week 9 to 10th this week -- the highest the Broncos have stood since they held the same spot late in the 2009 season. They are up six spots from last week.
"I don't know if Tebow is sustainable, but he is working now," voter Ashley Fox said. "The Broncos are playing with confidence and as a team. Everyone believes. It is impressive."
Any quarterback with 13 total touchdowns, three turnovers and a 6-1 starting record must be doing something right. Speaking of quarterbacks, three other teams once considered in the running for Andrew Luck gained the most in the rankings from last week. Arizona and Seattle joined Denver in jumping at least five spots from last week.
But with the top seven teams from last week winning while the next tier suffered losses, there was minimal movement near the top overall.
A closer look at the rankings heading into Week 14 ...
Rising (9): Arizona Cardinals (+7), Denver Broncos (+6), Seattle Seahawks (+5), Miami Dolphins (+4), New York Jets (+4), Tennessee Titans (+4), Carolina Panthers (+3), Atlanta Falcons (+1), San Diego Chargers (+1).
Falling (12): Philadelphia Eagles (-6), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6), Chicago Bears (-5), Oakland Raiders (-5), Washington Redskins (-4), Kansas City Chiefs (-2), New York Giants (-2), Buffalo Bills (-1), Cincinnati Bengals (-1), Cleveland Browns (-1), Dallas Cowboys (-1), Detroit Lions (-1).
Unchanged (11): Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams.
Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. San Diego prevailed over Miami at No. 21 based on head-to-head results.
Like minds: All five voters ranked the Packers first, Ravens second, Patriots sixth, Texans seventh, Rams 31st and Colts 32nd. I cannot recall such uniformity. The order among the top seven remained the same.
Agree to disagree: Seven teams generated disparities of at least seven spots among voters. Paul Kuharsky moved up the Jets seven spots to No. 8 on his ballot, while John Clayton ranked them only 15th.
Why the big jump, Paul?
"Because I had to move Dallas, Cincinnati, Chicago and Detroit down," Kuharsky explained. "So I judged the Jets to be the best of the small pack of teams that went up to make those moves down happen. It was a market adjustment week."
A look at the seven teams generating disagreements of at least seven spots:
Power rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
- Chargers (9): Walker ranked them 18th, higher than any voter ranked them. Kuharsky ranked them 27th, lower than any voter ranked them.
- Raiders (9): Clayton ninth, Kuharsky 18th.
- Jets (7): Kuharsky eighth, Clayton 15th.
- Titans (7): Sando and Kuharsky 10th, Fox 17th.
- Bills (7): Clayton 18th, Sando 25th.
- Dolphins (7): Kuharsky 17th, Clayton 24th.
- Eagles (7): Kuharsky 19th, Sando 26th.
Ranking the divisions: Teams from the AFC North maintained the highest ranking on average despite slipping from last week. That's partly because some teams from the runner-up NFC North also fell in the rankings after the division went 1-3.
A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least five spots since last week:
For download: An Excel file -- available here -- showing how each voter voted this week and in past weeks.
- Sando: Bills (-7), Raiders (-6), Eagles (-6), Bears (-5), Titans (+5), Panthers (+6), Broncos (+7), Cardinals (+8).
- Clayton: Eagles (-6), Buccaneers (-6), Redskins (-6), Seahawks (+6).
- Kuharsky: Raiders (-5), Buccaneers (-5), Dolphins (+5), Panthers (+5), Broncos (+6), Seahawks (+6), Titans (+6), Jets (+7).
- Walker: Eagles (-6), Buccaneers (-6), Bears (-5), Raiders (-5), Cardinals (+7).
- Fox: Broncos (+6).
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.
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.