NFL Nation: 2012 Week 10 NFL power rankings

Here's a look at how the AFC West teams fared in the Week 10 Power Rankings. I do not have a vote, but I do have an opinion:

Denver Broncos

Power ranking: 8

My range: 7-9

Comment: Denver needs to continue to win on the road Sunday at Carolina.

San Diego Chargers

Power ranking: 17

My range: 17-19

Comment: A win over the Chiefs doesn’t cure all.

Oakland Raiders

Power ranking: 26

My range: 25-27

Comment: I’m sure Ray Rice is licking his chops after watching the Doug Martin show.

Kansas City Chiefs

Power ranking: 32

My range: 32

Comment: Will the Chiefs’ changes this week help? I doubt it.

NFL Power Rankings: Colts rise again

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
1:43
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The Colts moved up eight spots in ESPN.com’s NFL Power Rankings a week ago after a nice overtime victory in Nashville. They moved up another four this week after taking down the Dolphins.

The 12-spot rise in two weeks has the Colts sitting at 11th. They were 32nd the first two weeks of the season.

"The Colts have jumped from 24th to 15th to 12th on my ballot over the past three weeks," Power Rankings voter Mike Sando of the NFC West blog said. "Our Total QBR metrics have been telling us for weeks that Andrew Luck was doing more to help his team win than Robert Griffin III was doing. Now we're seeing that in the standings. I might have underestimated the rest of the Colts' roster or at least the effects a top quarterback can have on the players around him. It's looking conservatively like the Colts can get to 8-8. Good for them."

Here’s our weekly look at how our four stand.


You’re invited to calmly reflect on these developments in the comments section below.

Here’s Mike Sando’s weekly breakdown of how the voters voted.

 

 

NFL Power Rankings: Bucs rising fast

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
1:00
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For the first time all season, all four NFC South teams won in the same week and that has the division suddenly looking a lot better than it has.

In the latest ESPN.com Power Rankings, the Atlanta Falcons held onto their No. 1 ranking. I wouldn’t expect anything different there. The Falcons are 8-0 and the NFL’s only undefeated team. Even if all their wins haven’t been pretty, they deserve to be No. 1.

But the biggest change is coming from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They had the biggest jump of the week as they moved up eight spots to No. 13 after their second straight impressive road win. You know what being No. 13 means? The Bucs are right on the cusp of being a playoff contender.

The New Orleans Saints also are on the rise. They jumped up four spots to No. 22 after their Monday night victory against Philadelphia.

Even the Carolina Panthers moved up with their victory against Washington. The Panthers rose one spot to No. 29.

Wait, these power rankings look familiar

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
12:30
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The NFC West is shaking out pretty much as expected.

There have been surprises through Week 9, of course.

Arizona's 4-0 start was a surprise given concerns at quarterback and along the offensive line. St. Louis was initially more competitive than anticipated. Seattle initially held back rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to a degree unseen during preseason. San Francisco has probably been better on offense than widely anticipated.

But as we look at the NFC West standings heading into Week 10, we see the 49ers in first place, as expected. We see Seattle in second place and emerging as the favorite to stay in that spot thanks to stronger quarterback play. That was anticipated around here.

Injuries are making it tougher for Arizona to mask known weaknesses and keep pace. The number of injuries to key players on offense could not be anticipated. But those of us who thought the Rams might challenge Arizona for third place in the division could wind up being right.

These thoughts came to mind Tuesday when ESPN's Power Rankings appeared on the site. I noticed my ballot for this week lined up very closely with the one I cast heading into Week 1, at least in regard to NFC West teams. Much could change in the coming weeks, but I think we've got a good feel for what to expect.

The chart shows no more than four spots separating my rankings from Weeks 1 and 10 for NFC West teams.
As you may have heard, each of the four teams in the NFC East lost in Week 9. This means that none of the four teams in the NFC East were able to move up in this week's NFL Power Rankings. You may or may not think that's fair, but that's how Power Rankings roll. Here's a look.

5. New York Giants (Last week: 2). I had them at No. 2 last week and dropped them to No. 4 this week. Couldn't sink them behind the 49ers, as the memory of the extent to which they beat them in San Francisco remains in my mind. I jumped the 7-1 Texans and the 7-1 Bears ahead of them, which I feel is justified. Ashley Fox also put them fourth. Everybody else ranked the Giants No. 6 this week.

18. Dallas Cowboys (14). A road loss to the undefeated No. 1 team in the poll didn't feel like grounds for a big drop, but we're at the point in the season where I think we really have to start leaning on 2012 performance as the sole determining factor for these rankings. So my drop of the Cowboys from 12 to 17 was an adjustment based on more than one week's worth of evidence. Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, Seattle, Miami and Detroit all moved ahead of the Cowboys on my ballot, for the somewhat simple reason that they're all having better seasons. I think the Cowboys can be better than the 17th-best team in the league, but to this point I don't think they've done anything to deserve a better ranking. My 17 is still the highest ranking they received in this week's poll. Jamison Hensley's 21 was the lowest.

19. Washington Redskins (19). The Redskins got to stay put in spite of their disappointing home loss to the No. 29 Panthers. I dropped them from 14 to 18 after their third loss in a row, and again, that's the highest anyone in the poll ranked them. Mike Sando has them down at 24. I couldn't move the Saints or Chargers ahead of them, and while the Eagles may have a case, they don't really have much of a leg to stand on. Speaking of which...

21. Philadelphia Eagles (18). They started the season at No. 7. There is no team, over the past two years, that has consistently fallen shorter of external expectations. But at this point, after they couldn't even get the offense going in New Orleans of all places, we have to believe they're just a bad team. I have them at 22. Ashley has them at 18. John Clayton has them at 23. That's the range, and it's pretty far from the range in which the Eagles expected to be at this or any other point this season.

So, what do you guys think?

Power Rankings: AFC East slumping

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
12:00
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It was not a banner weekend for the AFC East. The division was winless in two games in Week 9.

But the biggest issue I have with ESPN.com’s latest Power Rankings is about the team that didn’t play: the New England Patriots (5-3).

The Patriots were on a bye week and dropped one spot to No. 9 in the Power Rankings. New England is playing its best football of the season but is still ranked behind teams like the Denver Broncos (5-3), who lost to the Patriots earlier this season.

I also didn’t agree with the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) not moving at all after beating the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants in their house. Pittsburgh is No. 10.

But enough complaining. Here is how the AFC East fared:
  • No. 9: New England Patriots (down one spot)
  • No. 15: Dolphins (down three spots)
  • No. 25: New York Jets (same)
  • No. 28: Bills (same)

The Dolphins (4-4) dropped three spots after losing to the Indianapolis Colts (5-3). Miami had a chance to improve its playoff standing but dropped back to the middle of the pack.

Buffalo (3-5) stayed the same at No. 28 after losing to the Houston Texans. The Bills have a big game at New England this weekend. The Jets (3-5) also stayed the same at No. 25 and are in a must-win game against the Seattle Seahawks (5-4).
Only two teams moved from last week and both dropped a spot. Not another good week for the AFC North. Here's a recap of the Week 10 power rankings:

BALTIMORE RAVENS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 7

My ranking: No. 7

2012 record: 6-2

Comment: Only one team lost in the top 6, and the Giants fell three spots to No. 5. It's hard to argue that the Ravens should rank above them. Baltimore hasn't had a decisive win since the season opener and struggled to win at Cleveland after a bye week.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 10

My ranking: No. 10

2012 record: 5-3

Comment: The Steelers should move up after winning at the Giants, who were the No. 2 team on the power rankings last week. But the Giants were the only team to lose in the top 10, so Pittsburgh remains at No. 10. Of the four 5-3 teams, the Steelers rank third, just behind the Broncos (who beat the Steelers) and Patriots and one spot ahead of the Colts. Pittsburgh's three-game win streak is tied for the longest in the AFC right now.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 23

My ranking: No. 26

2012 record: 3-5

Comment: The Bengals have fallen 11 spots during their four-game losing streak. But Cincinnati only dropped down one after losing to the Broncos. Of the seven 3-5 teams in the league, the Bengals rank fourth behind Dallas, Philadelphia and New Orleans. I had the Bengals at No. 26, which was the lowest any voter had them.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 30

My ranking: No. 30

2012 record: 2-7

Comment: Last week was the first time this year that the Browns weren't ranked in the 30s. That didn't last long. With the Panthers winning at Washington, the Browns were back to No. 30 (third-worst in the league) after losing to Baltimore. There are only four teams with two wins or fewer.

Here are my rankings:

1. Falcons

2. Texans

3. 49ers

4. Bears

5. Packers

6. Giants

7. Ravens

8. Patriots

9. Broncos

10. Steelers

11. Colts

12. Buccaneers

13. Seahawks

14. Lions

15. Dolphins

16. Vikings

17. Cardinals

18. Chargers

19. Redskins

20. Eagles

21. Cowboys

22. Rams

23. Jets

24. Saints

25. Titans

26. Bengals

27. Raiders

28. Bills

29. Panthers

30. Browns

31. Jaguars

32. Chiefs

NFL Power Rankings: How they voted

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
11:45
AM ET
Take a good look at the top-five order for ESPN's NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 10. Changes could be right around the corner.

The second-ranked Houston Texans visit the third-ranked Chicago Bears on Sunday night.

The Bears then visit the fourth-ranked San Francisco 49ers on "Monday Night Football" in Week 11. Meanwhile, the top-ranked Falcons visit New Orleans on Sunday for what figures to be an NFC South death match from the Saints' perspective.

The fifth-ranked New York Giants and sixth-ranked Green Bay Packers face one another in Week 12.

The top five shuffled some this week when the Giants lost at home to Pittsburgh. Houston moved up one spot to second. Chicago moved up two spots to third. The idle 49ers remained fourth. The Giants fell three spots, the biggest decline for any team ranked higher than 15th this week.

And now, a closer look at the rankings for this week:

Falling (11): Minnesota Vikings (-5), Dallas Cowboys (-4), Arizona Cardinals (-4), New York Giants (-3), Miami Dolphins (-3), Philadelphia Eagles (-3), Oakland Raiders (-2), New England Patriots (-1), Cincinnati Bengals (-1), St. Louis Rams (-1), Cleveland Browns (-1).

Rising (10): Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+8), Indianapolis Colts (+4), New Orleans Saints (+4), Detroit Lions (+3), San Diego Chargers (+3), Chicago Bears (+2), Houston Texans (+1), Denver Broncos (+1), Seattle Seahawks (+1), Carolina Panthers (+1).

Unchanged (11): Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs.

Deadlocked: We broke three ties this week. Detroit and Miami have not played each other this season. Both are 4-4. The Lions won a game more recently, however, and that made them the choice at No. 14. Tennessee edged Buffalo at No. 27 based on head-to-head results. Arizona prevailed over Philadelphia at No. 20 based on the same criteria.

Like minds: All five voters had the Falcons first, the Texans second, the Jaguars 31st and the Chiefs 32nd.

Agree to disagree: Seven spots separated high and low votes for San Diego and Cincinnati.

A look at all teams generating high-low gaps of at least six spots in the rankings:
  • Chargers (7): Ashley Fox 13th, Dan Graziano 20th.
  • Bengals (7): John Clayton 19th, Jamison Hensley 26th.
  • Buccaneers (6): Graziano 11th, Clayton 17th.
  • Redskins (6): Graziano 18th, Sando 24th.
  • Cardinals (6): Hensley 17th, Sando 23rd.
  • Saints (6): Sando 18th, Hensley and Fox 24th.
  • Rams (6): Fox 21st, Clayton 27th.
  • Jets (6): Graziano and Hensley 23rd, Fox 29th.
Power Rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.

Ranking the divisions: The NFC North far outranks other divisions with a 9.9 average ranking for its four teams. The NFC West was second with a 15.0 average ranking. That is the largest gap I can recall between the top two divisions. The NFC South (16.2) was next, followed by the NFC East (16.3), AFC North (17.2), AFC South (17.9), AFC East (18.8) and AFC West (20.8).

A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least five spots since last week:
  • Sando: Cardinals (-6), Raiders (-5), Buccaneers (+6), Saints (+7).
  • Clayton: Eagles (-10), Vikings (-7), Buccaneers (+5), Saints (+5), Colts (+9).
  • Graziano: Cowboys (-5), Vikings (-5), Colts (+6), Buccaneers (+9).
  • Hensley: none.
  • Fox: Lions (+5), Buccaneers (+7).
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, the 49ers outrank the Giants even though the Giants won at Candlestick Park this season. Green Bay owns victories over the higher-ranked Bears and Texans.

Arizona is the highest-ranked team with more than two victories over teams currently ranked higher. That makes sense given that the Cardinals have gone from 4-0 to 4-5.

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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