NFL Nation: 2012 Week 11 NFL power rankings

Here's a look at how the AFC West teams fared in the Week 11 Power Rankings. I do not have a vote, but I do have an opinion:

Denver Broncos

Power ranking: 7

My range: 6-8

Comment: A win Sunday and the Broncos can start to focus on what it takes to win in January.

San Diego Chargers

Power ranking: 20

My range: 18-20

Comment: Chargers should call the league to ask if games can end at halftime.

Oakland Raiders

Power ranking: 28

My range: 27-29

Comment: New Orleans is watching the Baltimore game film and thinking of the possibilities.

Kansas City Chiefs

Power ranking: 32

My range: 32

Comment: The Chiefs play hard, but Monday they did not play smart.
After a four-week run in the top spot, the Atlanta Falcons have fallen to No. 2 in the latest ESPN.com Power Rankings.

The Houston Texans have moved into the No. 1 spot after Atlanta’s 31-27 loss to New Orleans on Sunday. The voters were unanimous in putting the Falcons at No. 2, but I’m not so sure that’s the right move.

Yeah, at 8-1, the Falcons and Texans are tied for the best record in the NFL. But, at least for the moment, I’m not so sure the Falcons are actually better than teams like the Bears, 49ers, Ravens, Packers, Broncos and Patriots. Can the Falcons be the best team in the NFC or in the entire NFL when all is said and done? Yeah, it’s possible, but they have some work to do. Right now, they’re very good, but not great, which is pretty much what they’ve been all season.

I’m more than a little surprised the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stayed put at No. 13 for a second straight week. The Bucs had a nice 34-24 victory against San Diego on Sunday and have been playing good football for the last month or so. I’m looking at the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks, the two teams immediately ahead of the Bucs, and thinking Tampa Bay might be better than both of them.

The New Orleans Saints made the biggest jump of any team in this week’s rankings. They’re up six spots to No. 16. I’d say that’s about right after they knocked off the No. 1 team.

Finally, there are the Carolina Panthers. They stayed put at No. 29, which only makes me wonder how bad Cleveland, Kansas City and Jacksonville actually are.

NFL Power Rankings: Texans return to top

November, 13, 2012
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Off of their win in Chicago and Atlanta’s loss in New Orleans, the Houston Texans are the unanimous No. 1 team in ESPN.com’s NFL Power Rankings.

Frankly, the AFC South shouldn’t just have the poll’s top team, it should also have the bottom team.

There is no way Jacksonville (No. 31) should rate as better than Kansas City after the Chiefs’ nice performance in Pittsburgh Monday night. Did our voters submit their ballots before that game wrapped up?

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.

Power rankings: NFC East barely in top 10

November, 13, 2012
11/13/12
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These are difficult times for the NFC East in the Power Rankings. A look at where our teams placed in this week's poll:

10. New York Giants (Last week: 5). A five-spot drop, the biggest of any team this week. I personally dropped the Giants four spots, from No. 4 to No. 8. As good a weekend as the AFC had against the NFC, I still couldn't justify believing the Ravens and Patriots have better teams. And perhaps I'm still giving the Giants the benefit of the doubt based on the way they played at the end of last year and the beginning of this one. Everybody slumps. But they didn't play like a top-10 team in Sunday's loss to the Bengals, and that's why they're barely hanging on to that top-10 ranking. Only John Clayton (6) ranked them higher than I did. Everybody else had them 10th or 11th.

15. Dallas Cowboys (18). Dallas made the third-biggest jump of any team in our poll this week, moving up three spots from 18 to 15. I also ranked them 15th on my ballot, up two spots from No. 17. John and Ashley Fox agreed, Mike Sando had them 16th and Jamison Hensley has them at No. 19. The Cowboys looked great in Sunday's fourth quarter, and as we've discussed they have a ripe-looking schedule the rest of the way. But I don't think they've done anything to prove they belong anywhere else besides right in the middle of this year's NFL pack, which is where the Power Rankings have them.

21. Washington Redskins (19). You know things aren't going well when you drop two spots in a week in which you don't even play. The Saints and Bengals are the two teams that jumped the Redskins in the rankings this week, and yes, the Redskins did beat the Saints (but lost to the Bengals!). I can't answer for other people. I had them 18th last week, have them 18th this week. I did move the Saints ahead of them after New Orleans knocked off the poll's previously unbeaten No. 1 team, but I dropped the Dolphins behind them, so the Redskins stayed the same. I continue to be the highest on the Redskins of any of our voters. Sando is the lowest, putting them 24th.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (21). And finally, the Eagles. No team has fallen more dramatically from their Week 1 ranking than have the Eagles, who began this season at No. 7 in the poll, held that same ranking in Week 5 and have dropped 17 spots during their five-game losing streak. Only the Colts, who began the season at No. 32 and are currently No. 11, have made a larger swing in either direction. The Eagles are in a free-fall and set to start rookie quarterback Nick Foles this week in place of a concussed Michael Vick. This might not be as low as they can get. I have them at 23, down two spots from last week and (ahem) 20 from where I had them to start the season.

Your thoughts?

Power Rankings: AFC East slumping

November, 13, 2012
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By now it is no secret that the AFC East is one of the worst divisions in football. That was further confirmed Tuesday in ESPN.com's latest Power Rankings.

Our panel didn't have many nice things to say about the Miami Dolphins (4-5), New York Jets (3-6) or Buffalo Bills (3-6). Even the New England Patriots (6-3) are a relatively low No. 8 after barely edging the lowly Bills at home.

The AFC East is ranked seventh out of eight divisions. The AFC West is rated last.

Here are this week’s team rankings in the division:
  • No. 8: Patriots (up one spot)
  • No. 18: Dolphins (down three spots)
  • No. 26: Jets (down one spot)
  • No. 27: Bills (up one spot)

It could be a long two months for our community if AFC East teams continue to play at this level. The Dolphins and Bills will kick off Week 11 Thursday night in an effort to reverse their misfortunes.

NFL Week 11 Power Rankings: NFC North

November, 13, 2012
11/13/12
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Let's catch up on the NFC North's mildly changing position in ESPN.com's Week 11 Power Rankings.

3. Chicago Bears
Trending: No change after a 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans, who are now power ranked at No. 1.
Comment: Everyone is on edge as they await word on the status of quarterback Jay Cutler, whose quick recovery from a concussion seems a necessary ingredient to stay atop the NFC North.

6. Green Bay Packers
Trending: No change after a successful bye week.
Comment: The Packers begin a stretch of five division games in seven weeks Sunday at Ford Field. The world is their oyster, at least based on the schedule.

14. Minnesota Vikings
Trending: Up two after a 34-24 victory over the Detroit Lions.
Comment: The Vikings head into their bye at 6-4 and in much better playoff shape than anyone imagined before the season. Their schedule remains difficult, but they will be in the conversation at Thanksgiving.

17. Detroit Lions
Trending: Down three after a 34-24 loss to the Vikings.
Comment: The Lions have the most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL, with an opposing winning percentage of .714, as they try to dig back into contention.

NFL Power Rankings: AFC North reaction

November, 13, 2012
11/13/12
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An undefeated week for the AFC North led to three team moving up in the Power Rankings. Here's a recap of the Week 11 power rankings:

BALTIMORE RAVENS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 5

My ranking: No. 6

2012 record: 7-2

Comment: After a couple of weeks being stuck at No. 7, the Ravens move up a couple of spots to get back into the top five. Like it's been for weeks, the only AFC team ahead of the Ravens is the Texans.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 9

My ranking: No. 9

2012 record: 6-3

Comment: The Steelers inch up one spot after nearly slipping up to the one-win Chiefs. Pittsburgh has a history of playing down to the competition with losses at Tennessee and Oakland. But the Steelers should be ahead of the No. 10 Giants after beating them nine days ago.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 19

My ranking: No. 21

2012 record: 4-5

Comment: The Bengals got some love after knocking off the defending Super Bowl champions. Their four-spot jump was the second-biggest of the week (Saints moved up six spots). Still, of the six teams with a 4-5 record, the Bengals are only ahead of the Chargers.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 30

My ranking: No. 30

2012 record: 2-7

Comment: It was a bye week. The Jaguars and Chiefs both lost, so the Browns remained in the same spot.

Here are my rankings:

1. Texans

2. Falcons

3. 49ers

4. Packers

5. Bears

6. Ravens

7. Patriots

8. Broncos

9. Steelers

10. Giants

11. Colts

12. Buccaneers

13. Seahawks

14. Vikings

15. Lions

16. Saints

17. Dolphins

18. Cardinals

19. Cowboys

20. Redskins

21. Bengals

22. Rams

23. Chargers

24. Titans

25. Eagles

26. Jets

27. Raiders

28. Bills

29. Panthers

30. Browns

31. Jaguars

32. Chiefs

NFL Power Rankings: How they voted

November, 13, 2012
11/13/12
11:45
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Even good teams inexplicably have a bad game every so often.

Some teams have bad months.

The Arizona Cardinals have fallen from 4-0 to 4-5 while extending to 10 their streak of defeats in October games.

The New York Giants are 13-21 in November under coach Tom Coughlin after losing to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh the past two weeks. The Giants had gone 4-0 in October and scored at least 27 points in each of those games. They've totaled 33 points in their two-game skid this month.

The Cardinals and Giants are among the biggest losers recently, not just on the field but in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings. Arizona has fallen from fifth in Week 5 to 22nd entering Week 11. The Giants plummeted five spots from last week, settling at No. 10.

Philadelphia (minus-17) and Kansas City (minus-15) have fallen the greatest distances over the past 10 weeks. Buffalo (minus-8) is the only other team to fall more than seven spots in our rankings in that span. Indianapolis (plus-21), Minnesota (plus-16) and Tampa Bay (plus-12) are the only double-digit movers in a positive direction in that time.

The Houston Texans are back in the No. 1 spot after ranking lower for three weeks. They overtook Atlanta after the Falcons' first defeat of the season. The Falcons had held the top spot for four consecutive weeks. The Chicago Bears remain third and the San Francisco 49ers fourth heading into the teams' game Monday night. Baltimore moved up to fifth, replacing the Giants in the top five. The idle Green Bay Packers remained sixth.

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

Falling (10): New York Giants (-5), Detroit Lions (-3), Miami Dolphins (-3), Philadelphia Eagles (-3), San Diego Chargers (-3), Arizona Cardinals (-2), Oakland Raiders (-2), Washington Redskins (-2), Atlanta Falcons (-1), New York Jets (-1).

Rising (12): New Orleans Saints (+6), Cincinnati Bengals (+4), Dallas Cowboys (+3), Baltimore Ravens (+2), Minnesota Vikings (+2), Tennessee Titans (+2), Buffalo Bills (+1), Denver Broncos (+1), Houston Texans (+1), New England Patriots (+1), Pittsburgh Steelers (+1), St. Louis Rams (+1).

Unchanged (10): Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Bucs.

Deadlocked: We broke no ties this week.

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

Agree to disagree: The Lions and Cardinals each generated gaps of eight votes between high and low votes.

A look at all teams generating high-low gaps of at least six spots in the rankings:
  • Lions (8): Jamison Hensley 15th, Ashley Fox 23rd.
  • Cardinals (8): Hensley 18th, Sando 26th.
  • Titans (7): Sando 20th, Dan Graziano 27th.
  • Ravens (6): Fox third, Graziano ninth.
  • Patriots (6): Fox fifth, Sando 11th.
  • Chargers (6): Fox 17th, Hensley 23rd.
  • Redskins (6): Graziano 18th, Sando 24th.
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 remained the highest-ranked division on average, and by a wide margin. Teams from the NFC North were ranked 10.3 on average. The NFC West remained second, inching up from 15.0 last week to 14.8 this week. The NFC South (15.0) was next, followed by the AFC North (15.9), AFC South (16.9), NFC East (17.4), AFC East (20.1) and AFC West (21.7).

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: none.
  • Graziano: Dolphins (-5).
  • Hensley: Eagles (-5), Chargers (-5), Bengals (+5), Saints (+8).
  • Fox: Giants (-7), Lions (-6), Eagles (-5), Cowboys (+5), Saints (+8).
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 Bears and Texans outrank the Packers even though Green Bay defeated both teams.

Washington is the highest-ranked team with more than two victories over teams currently ranked higher.

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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