NFL Nation: 2010 Week 17 Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings, AFC West-style

December, 27, 2011
Here's a look at how the AFC West teams fared in our Week 17 NFL Power Rankings. I do not have a vote, but I do have an opinion.

Denver Broncos

Power ranking: 13

My range: 13-15

Comment: Which Denver team will show up in Week 17?

Oakland Raiders

Power ranking: 14

My range: 13-15

Comment: The Raiders have a solid chance of getting into the playoffs in some form.

San Diego Chargers

Power ranking: 19

My range: 18-20

Comment: Will the eliminated Chargers show up in Oakland on Sunday?

Kansas City Chiefs

Power ranking: 23

My range: 22-24

Comment: I expect to see the Chiefs fight hard in Denver on Sunday.

NFL Power Rankings: The AFC South

December, 27, 2011
Last week, NFC West blogger Mike Sando ranked the St. Louis Rams as the worst team in the NFL, moving the Colts up a notch.

There was no way, given the Rams quarterback situation, that they would beat the Colts, he told me.

After another Colts win, James Walker of the AFC East and I followed suit this week. Thus Indianapolis has vaulted to 31st in this week’s NFL Power Rankings.

Ah, the rewards of a two-game winning streak.

I’m one-fifth of the ballot. Mike Sando breaks down the whole vote here.

If you want to contact me with your feedback, please do so via Twitter, Facebook or the mailbag.

Here’s the AFC South:

As for my complete ballot, the number in parenthesis is where I had the team ranked last week.
1) Green Bay (1)

2) New Orleans (2)

3) San Francisco (3)

4) Baltimore (4)

5) Pittsburgh (5)

6) New England (6)

7) Detroit (9)

8) Houston (7)

9) Atlanta (8) 9-6 W

10) NY Giants (13)

11) Cincinnati (14)

12) Denver (10)

13) Dallas (11)

14) Tennessee (15)

15) NY Jets (12)

16) Philadelphia (19)

17) Oakland (22)

18) San Diego (16)

19) Carolina (23)

20) Seattle (17)

21) Chicago (18)

22) Arizona (20)

23) Miami (21)

24) Kansas City (24)

25) Washington (25)

26) Buffalo (26)

27) Jacksonville (27)

28) Cleveland (28)

29) Tampa Bay (29)

30) Minnesota (30)

31) Indianapolis (32)

32) St. Louis (31)

NFL Power Rankings: AFC East

December, 27, 2011
The NFL regular season is wrapping up soon. Here is how the AFC East fared in's Power Rankings:

New England Patriots (12-3)

Results: W, 27-24 against Dolphins

Power Ranking: No. 4 (same)

Walker's ranking: No. 3 (same)

Analysis: A come-from-behind win over the Dolphins didn't do anything for New England's power ranking. The Patriots stayed the same after overcoming a 17-point halftime deficit to improve to 12-3. The NFL has a bevy of strong teams at the top, and the Patriots may have to settle for the No. 4 spot the rest of the regular season. More importantly, New England just has to win its final game against Buffalo to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

New York Jets (8-7)

Results: L, 29-14 against New York Giants

Power Ranking: No. 16 (down four spots)

Walker's ranking: No. 16 (down two spots)

Analysis: The Jets were one of the biggest flops this week. The Jets dropped four spots to No. 16, and it was deserved after losing by 15 points to the Giants. Simply put, the Jets are a mediocre team. On paper, this group should be much better. The Jets have 11-win talent. But the Jets have zero consistency and now could end the year with a .500 record if they can't beat Dolphins on Sunday.

Miami Dolphins (5-10)

Results: L, 27-24 against Patriots

Power Ranking: No. 24 (down one spot)

Walker’s ranking: No. 23 (down one spot)

Analysis: Miami only dropped one spot after a respectable loss to the Patriots. The Dolphins probably could have beat most teams last week with a 17-point lead. But Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wouldn't allow New England to fold. The Dolphins are 5-3 in their last eight games. They're probably better than several teams rated ahead of them, but the 0-7 start will keep Miami in the 20s.

Buffalo Bills (6-9)

Results: W, 40-14 against Denver Broncos

Power Ranking: No. 25 (up one spot)

Walker’s ranking: No. 24 (up two spots)

Analysis: Buffalo finally broke its seven-game losing streak and upended the Broncos. It was one of the Bills' most impressive victories of the season, despite the game being meaningless. The Bills couldn't handle injuries or increased expectations after getting off to the fast start. The biggest bright spot is former first-round draft pick C.J. Spiller is proving that he can be a featured running back in the NFL. Buffalo is expected to drop this week's game at New England and finish with another double-digit losing season.

AFC North Power Rankings analysis

December, 29, 2010
The AFC North went 3-1 in Week 16. Here is how the results impacted's Power Rankings:

Baltimore Ravens (11-4)

Cumulative vote: No. 3

Walker's vote: No. 3

Analysis: The Ravens moved up one spot after the Philadelphia Eagles lost on Tuesday night. Baltimore earned the season sweep over the Cleveland Browns, 20-10, in Week 16 to clinch a playoff berth. Barring a Browns upset over the Steelers, the Ravens will be a wild-card team but extremely dangerous in the playoffs. I think Baltimore matches up well with just about every AFC playoff team -- including the New England Patriots (13-2).

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)

Cumulative vote: No. 5

Walker's vote: No. 5

Analysis: Pittsburgh moved up one spot in's Power Rankings after pummeling the lowly Carolina Panthers. Many in Steeler Nation were upset last week that Baltimore was rated ahead of Pittsburgh, even though the Steelers won the most recent meeting and likely will win the AFC North. It's a legitimate beef. But of the top five teams, I ranked Baltimore ahead of the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh behind the Saints after watching those three teams play head-to-head this year.

Cleveland Browns (5-10)

Cumulative vote: No. 25

Walker's vote: No. 28

Analysis: The Browns enter the final week of the season on a three-game losing streak. Cleveland fell three spots after losing to Baltimore. I ranked the Browns No. 28 because they've lost to some bad teams (Buffalo, Cincinnati) and have lost the formula that's made the team successful earlier this season. With questions about the future of the coaching staff and a key injury to running back Peyton Hillis (ribs), Cleveland will have a tough time beating Pittsburgh this week.

Cincinnati Bengals (4-11)

Cumulative vote: No. 30

Walker's vote: No. 25

Analysis: I was a little surprised Cincinnati stayed in the same spot after picking up a quality win over the San Diego Chargers. The Bengals dominated that game from start to finish, but it didn't impress the panel. I was impressed and rated Cincinnati No. 25. They've had an awful season, but they're playing solid football the past two weeks. A road game against Baltimore will be a huge test.

AFC East loses Power Rankings supremacy

December, 29, 2010
The NFC South has knocked the AFC East out of the divisional top spot in this week's installment of's Power Rankings.

The AFC East had a rough Week 16. Only one team won, and that was a division-on-division battery, causing the average poll position to drop and opening the door for the dynamic NFC South to regain supremacy entering the last weekend.

The New England Patriots crushed the Buffalo Bills but couldn't move up in the poll because they already were No. 1. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins lost nonconference games.

The new divisional Power Rankings:
  1. NFC South
  2. AFC East
  3. NFC North
  4. AFC North
  5. NFC East
  6. AFC South
  7. AFC West
  8. NFC West

The mighty Power Rankings syndicate consists of senior writer John Clayton, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC West blogger Mike Sando.

1. New England Patriots

Previous rank: 1

My take: No reason to debate this one. They own the NFL's best record, were No. 1 last week and dominated the otherwise plucky Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

8. New York Jets

Previous rank: 5

My take: The Jets fell three spots without much quarrel from me. They were passed in the poll by the New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears, the team that beat them Sunday. The Jets are limping into the playoffs with three losses in their past four games.

18. Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: 17

My take: With the way the Dolphins have floundered, No. 18 seems generous. They finished their home schedule at 1-7. The last three home losses were to the No. 25 Cleveland Browns, No. 28 Bills and No. 24 Detroit Lions.

28. Buffalo Bills

Previous rank: 27

My take: The Bills had been gaining momentum for their first full offseason under the current front office. They'd won four out of six games, with one of the defeats against the Steelers in overtime. Then they walked into a Patriots buzz saw Sunday. I still think the Bills deserve to be higher than 27, though. They've beaten Nos. 18, 24 and 25.
We pointed out in our stock report earlier today that the AFC South has fewer wins than any division in the NFL than everybody but the NFC West.

Collectively, the four teams sank three spots in the new edition of ESPN's NFL Power Rankings after a 1-3 weekend.

Honestly, I wanted to drop the Jaguars, Titans and Texans further than I did. But then I looked at the teams behind them, and found it difficult to do anything as dramatic as I might have liked.

Everyone in the division seems fairly placed to me. And we’ll have a lot more to talk about with regard to potential coaching changes and high draft picks that we have since we started this wild ride together in 2008.

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.

Recapping the division:

Power Rankings: Beast embarrassed again

December, 29, 2010
One of the reasons the NFL was hesitant to move the Eagles-Vikings game to Tuesday was its fear of disrupting the Power Rankings production schedule. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell talked about the "wussification" of America and praised China for its willingness to compete in large amounts of snow, but he secretly told aides that he couldn't stand the thought of waiting a day to get his Power Rankings.

The Week 17 edition provided more bad news for the Beast. The Philadelphia Eagles had climbed all the way to third following their comeback win over the Giants, but they were swatted back to seventh in light of Tuesday night's meltdown. As he does every week, NFC West blogger Mike Sando, master of the database, has pulled back the curtain on the mysterious voting process. Let's take a peek inside the minds of these four brave men who spend countless hours trying to get this right:

7. Philadelphia Eagles: Three of our esteemed panelists agreed the Eagles should fall four spots to No. 7, but AFC North blogger James Walker was disgusted by that loss to the Vikings and had the Eagles at No. 8. Walker was the only voter who had the New York Jets ahead of the Eagles on his ballot.

12. New York Giants: I was a little surprised the Giants only dropped three spots after being blown out by the Green Bay Packers. AFC South stalwart Paul Kuharsky still believes in Tom Coughlin and had the Giants 10th on his ballot. Walker once again had the harshest vote with a "13." He had the Chiefs and Bucs ahead of the Giants, and that seems reasonable to me in light of how poorly the Giants played.

21. Washington Redskins: The voters were all over the place when it came to Mike Shanahan's team. Walker was over the moon about that win over the Jags and had the Skins at "19" on his ballot. But Kuharsky delivered an evil laugh as he wrote down a "28." Kuharsky received a phone call from Walker early this morning and a discussion about the "integrity of the ballot" ensued. Sando and John "The Professor" Clayton both had the Skins at No. 21.

22. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys only fell four spots. I thought a loss to the lowly Arizona Cardinals would do more damage to them, but Kuharsky's benevolent "19" saved the day. Sando and Walker both had the Cowboys at 24 on their respective ballots. If the season ended today, the Cowboys would have the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. And who knows what can happen if they can find a way to lose to the Eagles' reserves Sunday.

It's with great embarrassment that I inform you that the NFC East has fallen to No. 5 in the division rankings. The "Beast" will have one more opportunity to roar, but I'm afraid the Eagles' loss sealed the division's fate as basically the NFC's answer to the AFC West.

Thanks for your continued support during these difficult days for the division.

Looking at NFC South Power Rankings

December, 29, 2010
New Orleans’ victory against Atlanta on Monday night came on a huge national stage, but it didn’t seem to make the voters in the Power Rankings blink.

They unanimously kept the Falcons at No. 2, which I think speaks to Atlanta’s overall body of work. Although the victory didn’t put the Saints ahead of the Falcons, New Orleans gained plenty of respect in the eyes of the voters. The Saints jumped from No. 7 all the way to No. 4.

With a home victory against Seattle, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers jumped from No. 15 to No. 13, which sounds about right. There was no jump for the Carolina Panthers, who hold onto the No. 32 spot for the seventh straight week.

Power Rankings: How the voters voted

December, 29, 2010
The New England Patriots remained the unanimous No. 1 choice in's NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 17.

The Patriots have never ranked lower than 10th this season. Only three teams -- Buffalo, Baltimore and Detroit -- have seen narrower fluctuations in their standing since our 2010 rankings debuted in late April.

Dallas has proved the most confounding, ranking as high as fourth and as low as 30th. Minnesota's 23-spot gap between highest (third) and lowest (26th) rankings gives the Vikings the second-largest fluctuation.

Teams have fluctuated 15 spots on average.

The Bills have fallen between 27th and 32nd each week, making them the most consistently ranked team. Baltimore (first and eighth) and Detroit (24th and 31st) have stayed within a seven-spot range. The Jets (second and 11th) join the Patriots as the only other teams with fluctuations smaller than 10 places.

I'll break down the variances by team and category.

They are who we thought they were

Six teams have fluctuated 10 or fewer spots: Buffalo (5), Baltimore (7), Detroit (7), New England (9), New York Jets (9) and Seattle (10).

OK, so circumstances change a little

Eleven teams have fluctuated between 11 and 15 spots: Denver (11), Cleveland (11), Atlanta (12), New Orleans (13), Green Bay (13), Indianapolis (14), Carolina (14), Philadelphia (15), Tennessee (15), Miami (15), Washington (15) and Jacksonville (15).

It's not our fault they were inconsistent

Eight teams have fluctuated between 16 and 19 spots: Chicago (16), St. Louis (16), Oakland (17), Arizona (17), Pittsburgh (18), Kansas City (19), Tampa Bay (19), San Francisco (19).

Who keeps moving the dartboard?

Six teams have fluctuated 20 or more spots: Houston (20), New York Giants (20), San Diego (20), Cincinnati (20), Minnesota (23) and Dallas (26)

And now, a closer look at the rankings heading into Week 16 ...

Rising (11): Minnesota Vikings (+5), Washington Redskins (+5), Detroit Lions (+4), St. Louis Rams (+4), Green Bay Packers (+3), Indianapolis Colts (+3), New Orleans Saints (+3), Chicago Bears (+2), Tampa Bay Bucs (+2), Baltimore Ravens (+1), Pittsburgh Steelers (+1).

Falling (14): Dallas Cowboys (-4), Philadelphia Eagles (-4), San Diego Chargers (-4), Cleveland Browns (-3), New York Giants (-3), New York Jets (-3), Seattle Seahawks (-3), Houston Texans (-2), San Francisco 49ers (-2), Buffalo Bills (-1), Jacksonville Jaguars (-1), Miami Dolphins (-1), Oakland Raiders (-1), Tennessee Titans (-1).

Unchanged (7): Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots.

Deadlocked: We broke no ties this week.

Like minds: All four panelists had the Patriots first, the Falcons second, the Packers ninth and the Panthers 32nd. Only one ranking spot separated votes for the Steelers, Eagles, Jets, Colts, Chiefs, Bucs, Chargers, Jaguars and Cardinals.

Agree to disagree: The Redskins generated the largest gap between high and low votes after their upset victory over Jacksonville. Eight other teams generated high-low disparities of at least five spots.
  • Redskins (9): James Walker ranked them 19th, higher than any voter ranked them. Paul Kuharsky ranked them 28th, lower than any voter ranked them.
  • Seahawks (7): Walker 20th, Mike Sando and Kuharsky 27th.
  • Bills (7): Kuharsky 24th, Sando 31st.
  • Texans (6): John Clayton 20th, Kuharsky 26th.
  • 49ers (6): Kuharsky 25th, Walker 31st.
  • Bengals (6): Walker 25th, Clayton and Kuharsky 31st.
  • Cowboys (5): Kuharsky 19th, Sando and Walker 24th.
  • Lions (5): Kuharsky 21st, Walker 26th.
  • Browns (5): Sando and Kuharsky 23rd, Walker 28th.
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 South averaged a 12.8 ranking, higher than the second-ranked AFC East (13.9) and every other division. Teams from the NFC West again ranked lowest on average at 24.3. 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: Cowboys (-7), Giants (-5), Chargers (-5), Packers (+5), Vikings (+7), Redskins (+7).
  • Clayton: Colts (+5).
  • Kuharsky: Lions (+7).
  • Walker: Cowboys (-6), 49ers (-5), Vikings (+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, albeit with only one week remaining.

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.

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.’s NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 17 were released Wednesday. Here are my thoughts on how the AFC West teams fared in the rankings:

Kansas City Chiefs

Power Ranking: 11

My Power Ranking range: 7-9

Why: This team is not a fluke. It’s time the Chiefs receive due credit.

San Diego Chargers

Power Ranking: 14

My Power Ranking range: 14-16

Why: The 2010 Chargers proved that talent isn’t the only ingredient needed for success.

Oakland Raiders

Power Ranking: 17

My Power Ranking range: 17-19

Why: The Raiders’ defense is giving up way too many points.

Denver Broncos

Power Ranking: 31

My Power Ranking range: 31

Why: The Broncos are ranked where they belong, but Tim Tebow gave the team hope last week.