NFL Nation: 2010 Week 13 Power Rankings

AFC East gains Power Rankings strength

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
4:32
PM ET
The AFC East has not wavered. It began 2010 as one of the best divisions and has grown stronger as the season has progressed.

In the latest edition of ESPN.com's Power Rankings, the New England Patriots and New York Jets were cemented among the conference's elite teams, while the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills each climbed the chart.

A month or so into the season, the AFC East was solid except for the Bills. Even they are highly competitive now, taking two top-five teams into overtime before losing.

ESPN.com's Power Rankings staff is senior writer John Clayton, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC West blogger Mike Sando.

2. New England Patriots

Previous rank: 2

My take: The Patriots held firm because the No. 1 Atlanta Falcons beat the respected Green Bay Packers. I still have my reservations about the Patriots' defense. They're ranked 31st in total defense, 16th in run defense and dead last in pass defense. But the most important stat is 9-2.

3. New York Jets

Previous rank: 4

My take: The Jets finally won a game in which they didn't need breaks that bordered on divine intervention and moved up a notch, leapfrogging the Baltimore Ravens. Even though the Jets defeated the Patriots in Week 2, I have no problem with the Jets being slotted right behind them two months later. The Patriots have been winning much more comfortably than the Jets. But we'll know for sure on Monday night, won't we?

15. Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: 19

My take: Their convincing road victory over the Oakland Raiders was impressive and made the Dolphins one of this week's biggest Power Rankings risers. The Dolphins are in their season twilight, but based on Sunday's performance they're going to swing until dark.

27. Buffalo Bills

Previous rank: 28

My take: The plucky Bills moved up a third straight week. They've crawled off the doormat to 30th to 28th and, despite a narrow loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, to 27th. The panel gave the Bills credit for coming close against a team that was rated fifth. They can continue their climb with their next two games against the No. 23 Minnesota Vikings and No. 22 Cleveland Browns.
I’m the rebel in the ESPN NFL Power Rankings, sticking with the Jets at No. 1 for the third consecutive week. New York has won and as impressed as I was with Atlanta’s win over Green Bay, I don’t think anything unfolded to warrant a drastic change.

It’s a bit funny, because I came into the season a big Atlanta guy and really love what the Falcons are doing while I said the Jets wouldn’t make the playoffs.

Here is the new list, where my top five all won and stayed in the same order. Chicago was my big jumper in the NFC, moving from 12th to eighth off the impressive win over Philadelphia. But the Bears hardly moved compared to San Diego, a team I moved from 17th to 11th off its strong showing in Indianapolis.

As for the AFC South, sorting out Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee is very difficult right now.

The Texans just crushed the Titans, but the Titans have killed the Jaguars and the Jaguars beat the Texans. When you’ve got a circle like that, you can hash it out in numerous ways. Jacksonville and Tennessee go head-to-head at LP Field Sunday. Which could serve to clarify things. Or might further complicate them.

NFC East blogger Matt Mosley said he’d like to field complaints on my behalf this week. But if you want to get to me anyway, here’s a link to the mailbag.

Please keep in mind I’m just one-fourth of the Power Rankings and these overall results do not match up with my ballot. You can see how I, and the other three panelists, voted here in Mike Sando’s post.

Eagles fall in Power Rankings

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
3:30
PM ET
Each and every Tuesday during the NFL season (and at least 17 times in the offseason), we release ESPN.com's prestigious Power Rankings, which send shockwaves throughout the league. Here's a look at the Week 13 rankings, which were released earlier this afternoon by the town crier in Bristol, Conn.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando has once again pulled back the curtain on our mysterious voting process and given you the opportunity to download all sorts of exclusive material. The NFC East was looking good last week, but three teams lost in Week 12, thus damaging the division's reputation across the league. Let's now go beyond the numbers and see what our four panelists were thinking:

9. Philadelphia Eagles -- The Eagles had soared to No. 6, but a 31-26 road loss to the Chicago Bears caused them to drop three spots in the rankings. AFC North blogger James Walker gave the Eagles a charitable No. 8 vote, but the other three voters had them at "9."

10. New York Giants -- I guess no one was particularly impressed with that 24-20 comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants stayed in the same spot after improving to 7-4. Sando was pretty harsh with a "13" on his ballot, but AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky and John "The Professor" Clayton saved the day by marking "10s." Sando had the Chargers, Chiefs and Bucs in front of the Giants. I encourage you to get in touch with him at your earliest convenience.

21. Washington Redskins -- I feel like the panel has grown tired of the Redskins. They dropped them three spots from No. 18 and that's about where the Skins will stay the rest of the season. Kuharsky scoffed at the Skins with his "22" vote, but Walker neutralized that vote with his curious "18."

26. Dallas Cowboys -- The Cowboys fell two spots despite the efforts of Walker, who really stuck up for the Beast this week. Clayton's "No. 28" vote was the final nail in the Cowboys' Power Rankings coffin. It's hard to imagine the Cowboys cracking the top 20 again this season.

With the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins combining to fall eight spots in the rankings, the NFC East fell from third to fifth in the overall rankings. What an utter embarrassment. Walker did his best to keep the Beast afloat with a 15.25 average ranking, but Sando cackled as his 17.25 average was released to the public Tuesday.
ESPN.com’s NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 13 were released Tuesday. Here are my thoughts on how the AFC West teams fared in the rankings:

San Diego Chargers
  • Power Ranking: 11
  • My Power Rankings Range: 9-11
  • Why: There's no denying the Chargers are a team on the move.
Kansas City Chiefs
  • Power Ranking: 12
  • My Power Rankings Range: 8-10
  • Why: I don't understand how the Chiefs can't move up more in the rankings after an 18-point road victory.
Oakland Raiders
  • Power Ranking: 20
  • My Power Rankings Range: 19-21
  • Why: The Raiders are in danger of a free-fall.
Denver Broncos
  • Power Ranking: 28
  • My Power Rankings Range: 28-30
  • Why: I wouldn't be surprised if the Broncos eventually hit No. 32.

Week 13 Power Rankings: NFC North

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
2:15
PM ET
The Chicago Bears have finally caught the Green Bay Packers -- in the ESPN.com Week 13 Power Rankings. This week's details:

7. Chicago Bears
Trending:
Up five spots after a 31-26 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

8. Green Bay Packers
Trending:
Down one spot after a 20-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

23. Minnesota Vikings
Trending:
Up two spots after a 17-13 victory over the Washington Redskins.

31. Detroit Lions
Trending:
No change after a 45-24 loss to the New England Patriots.

AFC North Power Rankings analysis

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
2:00
PM ET
The AFC North had a solid 3-1 record in Week 12.

Here is how the games impacted this week’s NFL Power Rankings:

Baltimore Ravens (8-3)

Cumulative vote: No. 4

Walker's vote: No. 3

Analysis: I'm not sure why the Ravens dropped one spot this week and swapped with the New York Jets to land at No. 4. Baltimore picked up a quality win by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4), while the Jets defeated the lowly Cincinnati Bengals (2-9). Plus, the Ravens own the head-to-head advantage, although that doesn't always come into play in the Power Rankings. My one complaint about New York, which I voted No. 6, is it padded its record by beating a lot of bad teams. Its last quality win was against the New England Patriots in Week 2. Both the Ravens and Jets have huge games against top opponents this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)

Cumulative vote: No. 5

Walker's vote: No. 5

Analysis: The Steelers are right where I expected. All four voters had Pittsburgh No. 5 across the board. The Steelers are winning, but their offense is inconsistent and the penalties have been plentiful. Still, Pittsburgh is 8-3 without playing its best football. We will know exactly where the Steelers stand after Sunday's huge showdown against the Ravens. This rivalry usually brings out the best in both teams.

Cleveland Browns (4-7)

Cumulative vote: No. 24

Walker's vote: No. 26

Analysis: The Browns dropped one spot to No. 24 this week and have developed an ugly trend of playing down to their competition. If it wasn't for a missed field goal by John Kasay, Cleveland could have lost at home to the Carolina Panthers, who were ESPN.com's No. 32 team. Veteran Jake Delhomme doesn't look like the answer at quarterback. This team played its best ball when rookie Colt McCoy was under center, but he's nursing a sprained ankle. Cleveland has a tough road game coming up against the Miami Dolphins (6-5).

Cincinnati Bengals (2-9)

Cumulative vote: No. 30

Walker's vote: No. 30

Analysis: The Bengals are bad, but I did move them up one spot in my ballot this week after a somewhat competitive performance against the Jets. Every voter agreed on Cincinnati, as well, and ranked the Bengals No. 30 across the board. They probably won't win many games the rest of the season. So at this point it's about competing on a weekly basis. That has been challenging enough, as Cincinnati hasn't won a game since Sept. 26. Things won't get any easier against the New Orleans Saints (8-3) Sunday.

Looking at NFC South Power Rankings

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
2:00
PM ET
For the third straight week, the NFC South is at the very top of the ESPN.com Power Rankings and at the very bottom.

The Atlanta Falcons are the No. 1 team in all the land for the third straight week, while the Carolina Panthers have a solid lock on No. 32.

Let's start with the Falcons. They lead the NFC with a 9-2 record. They've won five straight games and nine out of their last 10. They've played four straight games without a turnover and their victory against Green Bay on Sunday, along with previous victories against Baltimore and New Orleans, showed they can win the big games. No wonder that three of the four voters had the Falcons at No. 1. Paul Kuharsky had the Falcons at No. 3. I'm not sure what that's all about, but I think Kuharsky is one of those that's still buying into the antiquated notion that the AFC is the better conference this season.

Now, let's move to the Panthers. All four voters had them at No. 32. Even a one-point loss at Cleveland didn't get the Panthers any sympathy. And it shouldn't. Carolina has locked up the title as worst team in the league this year. Now, the Panthers just have to make sure they lock up the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.

The New Orleans Saints moved up to No. 6 after almost losing a Thanksgiving game at Dallas they should have run away with early. But I think this ranking is about right. In fact, I really respect the way AFC North blogger James Walker voted. Although he's an AFC guy, he had the Saints at No. 4.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell from No. 11 to No. 14 after a close road loss to Baltimore. I'm a little disappointed with the three-spot tumble. That's mainly because, the week before, Tampa Bay went out to San Francisco and shut out the 49ers and didn't move a single spot. If you don't move the Bucs up after a victory like the one against San Francisco, I don't think you drop them three spots after a loss to Baltimore.

Power rankings: How the voters voted

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
2:00
PM ET
The Chicago Bears continued their steady climb in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings for Week 13.

As shaky as Chicago once appeared, there's no denying the Bears' revival. Their victory over Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles helped move them into the No. 7 spot, up from No. 12 last week and No. 17 the week before. The Bears were ranked sixth heading into Week 4.

The Atlanta Falcons held onto the top spot with their close victory over Green Bay. The Packers and Bears were tied at No. 7, but Chicago won the tiebreaker based on head-to-head results. The NFC North rivals play again in Week 17.

And now, a closer look at the rankings heading into Week 13 ...

Rising (11): Bears (+5), Miami Dolphins (+4), St. Louis Rams (+4), Houston Texans (+3), San Diego Chargers (+3), New Orleans Saints (+2), Minnesota Vikings (+2), New York Jets (+1), Kansas City Chiefs (+1), San Francisco 49ers (+1), Buffalo Bills (+1).

Falling (13): Indianapolis Colts (-5), Oakland Raiders (-4), Eagles (-3), Washington Redskins (-3), Tennessee Titans (-2), Dallas Cowboys (-2), Tampa Bay Bucs (-2), Baltimore Ravens (-1), Green Bay Packers (-1), Jacksonville Jaguars (-1), Seattle Seahawks (-1), Denver Broncos (-1), Cleveland Browns (-1).

Unchanged (8): New England Patriots, Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions.

Deadlocked: We broke three ties this week. Chicago prevailed over Green Bay at No. 7 based on head-to-head results, the first tiebreaker. The Giants prevailed over San Diego at No. 10 based on their superior overall record, the second tiebreaker. Seattle prevailed over Minnesota at No. 22 based on its superior overall record.

Like minds: All four voters ranked the Bengals, Lions and Panthers as the bottom three teams.

Agree to disagree: Five teams generated disparities of at least five rankings among voters.
  • Titans (7): Kuharsky ranked them 16th, higher than any voter ranked them. Walker ranked them 23rd, lower than any voter ranked them.
  • Seahawks (6): Walker 19th, Sando 25th.
  • Jets (5): Kuharsky first, Walker sixth.
  • Rams (5): Sando 16th, Clayton 21st.
  • 49ers (5): Sando 22nd, Kuharsky 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 AFC East overtook their NFC South counterparts as the highest-ranked teams from a division on average. The chart below shows how each voter ranked each division on average. Highest votes in red. Lowest votes in blue.

A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least five spots since last week:
  • Sando: Bears (+6), Rams (+6), Colts (-5)
  • Clayton: Bears (+5), Texans (+5), Colts (-5)
  • Kuharsky: Chargers (+6), Raiders (-5)
  • Walker: Dolphins (+6), Raiders (-5)
For download: An Excel file -- available here -- showing how each voter voted this week and in past weeks.

The worksheet labeled "sked" shows remaining schedule strengths based on current power rankings.

The Bengals, Bears and Cowboys each play a league-high four games against teams currently ranked in the top 10. The Colts, Broncos, Chiefs and Cardinals play none. The Bengals' remaining opponents average a 9.5 ranking, highest in the league. The Cardinals' opponents average a league-low 26.2.

The Steelers' remaining opponents have 2.5 median victories this season, the lowest figure in the league. The team does play two teams ranked in the top 10, however.

The file also 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, the Titans and Texans have defeated a league-high four teams currently ranked higher than them. The Bills are the only team ranked lower than 14th without at least one victory over a higher-ranked team.

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.

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