NFL Nation: 2012 Week 5 NFL power rankings

Here's a look at how the AFC West teams fared in the Week 5 Power Rankings. I do not have a vote, but I do have an opinion:

San Diego Chargers

Power ranking: 11

My range: 9-11

Comment: The voters are waiting for the 3-1 Chargers to register a quality win.

Denver Broncos

Power ranking: 13

My range: 11-13

Comment: The Broncos can make a big push forward with a win at New England on Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs

Power ranking: 27

My range: 25-27

Comment: Matt Cassel’s Power Ranking is much lower.

Oakland Raiders

Power ranking: 29

My range: 27-29

Comment: The Raiders must figure out a way to compete defensively during this bye week.

Power Rankings: Jets fall hard

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
1:00
PM ET
The New York Jets are in first place in the AFC East. The Jets (2-2), New England Patriots (2-2) and Buffalo Bills (2-2) all have similar records. But New York is the only team with two division wins.

However, the Jets' first-place standing didn't do much for our panel in this week’s NFL Power Rankings. New York took the second-biggest drop this week, falling six places to No. 23.

Here are the full AFC East Power Rankings this week:
  • No. 6: Patriots
  • No. 21: Bills
  • No. 23: Jets
  • No. 26: Dolphins

The Patriots won a big game in Buffalo to avoid a 1-3 start. New England is still a force in the AFC and moved up two spots. The Bills fell two spots to No. 21 after allowing 52 points to the Patriots.

Miami is playing hard but suffered its second overtime loss of the season to the Arizona Cardinals. The Dolphins were actually rewarded for the loss and moved up three spots to No. 26. It was the biggest move up the Power Rankings in the AFC East this week.
The Texans are holding steady at No. 1 in the ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings.

The top five remained in the same order as last week, as Atlanta, Baltimore, San Francisco and Arizona all won as well.

Even with the No. 1 team, the division has the worst average position here at 21.5.

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


Here’s Mike Sando’s weekly breakdown of how the voters voted.
The weekly ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings are out and the Atlanta Falcons are holding steady at No. 2.

The Falcons rank behind only the Houston Texans for the second straight week. Four of the five voters had the Falcons at No. 2, but Jamison Hensley ranked them No. 1.

After the Falcons, there’s a huge drop-off to the rest of the NFC South teams. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, losers of a close game to Washington on Sunday, dropped two spots to No. 22.

The Carolina Panthers fell one spot to No. 23, after a last-second loss to Atlanta.

Despite losing to Green Bay, the New Orleans Saints stayed put at No. 28. The Saints were protected from a fall because the four teams behind them last week all remained behind them.

Power Rankings: NFC East jumble

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
12:30
PM ET
The new NFL Power Rankings are out, and you know what that means. Absolutely nothing in terms of the playoff race or anything else that will happen the rest of the season, but plenty of opportunity for name-calling and ridicule. Let's take a look at where our teams placed in this week's poll.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (Last week: 9). Amazing what happens when you don't turn the ball over, eh? The Eagles are 3-1 in spite of it all and on top of the NFC East, and they are the highest-ranking team in the division this week. They technically tied for seventh with the Packers but won the tiebreaker based on better overall record. Me, I had them ninth last week and kept them there, mainly because I didn't find a team I thought deserved to drop behind them. The only candidate is the Giants, whom they beat, and I'll explain that in a second. Jamison Hensley is the highest on the Eagles, ranking them sixth, and it looks like my No. 9 ranking is the lowest among the voters. Sorry, Eagles fans. I think your team is good, I really do, but I think the eight teams I have in front of them have played better so far this year.

10. New York Giants (6). Lots of disagreement on the Giants. John Clayton ranks them 15th. I rank them sixth. The other three voters rank them ninth, 10th and 12th. As a group, we appear unsure of what to do with the Giants. I dropped them only one spot in my rankings this week, because I don't see a two-point road loss in the division as a good reason to penalize a team's ranking very much. I am determined not to let the result of one single game influence my opinion of these teams too strongly, and I am also determined not to underestimate the Giants as I did all of last year. What are we but overripe pineapples if we do not learn our lessons? If I have a concern about the Giants, it's about the injuries to significant players such as Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Phillips lingering and having a long-term effect. But I'll wait to see if that does happen before changing my opinion on them too dramatically. So, short answer to the "How can you rank the Giants ahead of the Eagles after the Eagles beat them?" question is that I base these on more than just one game.

15. Dallas Cowboys (12). I mean, I have them at 13, down two spots from where I had them last week. They looked oil-spill bad Monday Night, but again, it was only one game, and their four-game body of work has done absolutely nothing to alter my preseason opinion of them as a middle-of-the-pack team this year. Jamison, who'd been highest on them, has them down at 15 now. Mike Sando has them 18th while Ashley Fox has them 11th. They're going to have more bad games, and they're going to have more good ones. They're not there yet.

18. Washington Redskins (22). Robert Griffin III fever is sweeping the nation, even if it has to share the local spotlight with the Washington Nationals. Griffin is clearly for real, and he brought Washington's high-scoring offense back in the fourth quarter to beat the Buccaneers. I have the Redskins 17th, up two spots from where I ranked them last week. I personally feel as though their defense will keep them from rising much higher than this, but that their offense could keep them from sinking much lower. This is not the way I expected the Redskins' season to go, but obviously, no one can predict this crazy NFL. Ashley has Washington ranked 15th. Clayton's not a believer, as he puts them 23rd and is done with his segment.

Have at 'em, folks.

NFL Week 5 Power Rankings: NFC North

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
12:00
PM ET
Let's take a look at how ESPN.com's power rankers power ranked the NFC North for Week 5.

8. Green Bay Packers
Trending: Down one after a 28-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Comment: There is a significant difference between voters on the Packers. Dan Graziano ranked them No. 4 overall, while John Clayton sees them as the NFL's No. 12 team. Meet in the middle, and you have No. 8.

9. Chicago Bears
Trending: Up two after a convincing 34-18 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Comment: It was by far the best performance of the Bears' 3-1 start.

14. Minnesota Vikings
Trending: Up seven after a 20-13 victory at Ford Field.
Comment: No team rose more than the Vikings this week. It's hard to argue with consecutive victories over 2012 playoff teams.

20. Detroit Lions
Trending: Down two after losing to the Vikings.
Comment: The Lions have a well-placed bye week to resuscitate their season.
You always hear that change is good. If that's the case, this has been a bad week for the AFC North in the Week 5 Power Rankings. That's because almost nothing has changed for the division.

The Ravens (No. 3), Steelers (No. 16) and Browns (No. 32) all remained in the same spot as last week. The only difference for the AFC North was the Cincinnati Bengals, who moved up three spots to No.12.

Here's a recap:

BALTIMORE RAVENS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 3

My ranking: No. 4

2012 record: 3-1

Comment: I'm only one of two voters who don't have the Ravens at No. 3. I have the 49ers above the Ravens. But I do have the Ravens ranked higher on my poll than NFC East blogger Dan Graziano, who has Baltimore at No. 5. The Ravens are one of two 3-1 teams (49ers being the other) ranked higher than undefeated Arizona.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 12

My ranking: No. 12

2012 record: 3-1

Comment: The Bengals still don't get much respect even with a 3-1 record. There are three 2-2 teams ahead of them: Patriots, Giants and Packers. What hurts the Bengals is the lack of a signature win. Cincinnati has defeated the Browns, Redskins and Jaguars. Two of those have come on the road.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 16

My ranking: No. 16

2012 record: 1-2

Comment: No movement on the bye week, which should be expected. The Steelers could make a big move up with a win Sunday over the No. 7 Eagles. It didn't help the Steelers that the Raiders got roughed up by the Broncos just one week after they upset Pittsburgh.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 32

My ranking: No. 32

2012 record: 0-4

Comment: This is the Browns' third straight week at the bottom of the Power Rankings. It's unlikely they'll get out of the basement next week. Cleveland plays at the defending Super Bowl champion Giants on Sunday.

Here are my rankings:

1. Falcons

2. Texans

3. 49ers

4. Ravens

5. Cardinals

6. Eagles

7. Packers

8. Bears

9. Giants

10. Patriots

11. Chargers

12. Bengals

13. Vikings

14. Broncos

15. Cowboys

16. Steelers

17. Rams

18. Seahawks

19. Redskins

20. Buccaneers

21. Jets

22. Bills

23. Titans

24. Panthers

25. Lions

26. Colts

27. Dolphins

28. Jaguars

29. Raiders

30. Chiefs

31. Saints

32. Browns

NFL Power Rankings: How they voted

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
12:00
PM ET

The top five teams remained unchanged from last week in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings for Week 5.

Houston, Atlanta, Baltimore, San Francisco and Arizona are all coming off victories. New England inched up into the sixth spot after putting up 52 points on Buffalo.

Dan Graziano, Ashley Fox and I offered thoughts on which of the top teams might have the hardest time maintaining their elite stats. You'll find those in the video accompanying this item.

I've gone through our five ballots -- those for Graziano, Fox, Jamison Hensley, John Clayton and me -- from a different angle. Instead of focusing on stability at the top, I've singled out the most volatile teams:
  • Minnesota Vikings: They've ranked anywhere from 31st (Week 1) to 14th (this week). Clayton ranked them seventh. We're not quite sure what to make of a team that follows a defeat by Indianapolis with victories over San Francisco and Detroit.
  • Seattle Seahawks: They ranked only 26th after losing to Arizona in the opener. Consecutive victories over Dallas and Green Bay pushed Seattle up to No. 10, but the Seahawks were back down to 17th this week after losing at St. Louis. They're 0-2 in the NFC West and 2-0 outside of it.
  • Arizona Cardinals: NFC West teams are 9-3 outside the division and 8-0 at home. The Cardinals lead the way at 4-0 after some suggested they might be the worst team in the NFL this season (and you know who you are). They've ranked anywhere from 20th after Week 1 to fifth the past two weeks.
  • New Orleans Saints: They're down to 28th in each of the past two weeks after opening the season at No. 13.

Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta, St. Louis and Washington also have seen at least 10 spots separate their highest and lowest rankings this season.

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

Falling (12): Seattle Seahawks (-7), New York Jets (-6), New York Giants (-4), Dallas Cowboys (-3), Detroit Lions (-2), Buffalo Bills (-2), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2), Oakland Raiders (-2), Green Bay Packers (-1), Carolina Panthers (-1), Tennessee Titans (-1), Kansas City Chiefs (-1).

Rising (10): Minnesota Vikings (+7), St. Louis Rams (+6), Washington Redskins (+4), Cincinnati Bengals (+3), Miami Dolphins (+3), New England Patriots (+2), Philadelphia Eagles (+2), Chicago Bears (+2), San Diego Chargers (+2), Denver Broncos (+1).

Unchanged (10): Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns.

Deadlocked: We broke two ties this week. Philadelphia edged Green Bay for the seventh spot based on the second tiebreaker, overall record. San Diego prevailed over Cincinnati for the 11th spot on the fourth and final tiebreaker, which team was ranked higher previously.

Like minds: All five voters ranked Cleveland last. Four of five ranked Houston first and Atlanta second.

Agree to disagree: Eight teams generated gaps of at least eight spots between highest and lowest votes. Minnesota was the most divisive team. The Vikings are 3-1 and have beaten San Francisco and Detroit, both playoff teams from last season.

A look at all teams generating high-low disparities of at least eight spots in the rankings:
  • Vikings (12): Clayton ranked them seventh, higher than any other voter ranked them. Graziano ranked them 19th, lower than any other voter ranked them.
  • Saints (11): Graziano 20th, Hensley 31st.
  • Giants (9): Graziano sixth, Clayton 15th.
  • Seahawks (9): Clayton 11th, Fox 20th.
  • Lions (9): Graziano 16th, Hensley 25th.
  • Packers (8): Graziano fourth, Clayton 12th.
  • Redskins (8): Fox 15th, Clayton 23rd.
  • Buccaneers (8): Clayton 19th, Fox 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 NFC West ranked 11.2 on average, helping the division maintain its status as the highest-ranked of the eight. Teams from the NFC East ranked 12.7 on average, followed by teams from the NFC North (13.0), AFC North (15.8), NFC South (18.6), AFC East (19.3), AFC West (20.0) and AFC South (21.6).

Our divisional bloggers on the panel -- Dan Graziano, Jamison Hensley and me -- had at various times ranked teams from our divisions higher than the other voters had ranked them. Those gaps have closed or disappeared.

Graziano ranked NFC East teams 11.25 on average, same as Ashley Fox ranked them. Hensley ranked AFC North teams lower on average than three other panelists ranked them. I ranked NFC West teams at 10.25 on average. Clayton had them at 10.5. Hensley, who forecast the Cardinals as NFC West champs in his preseason predictions, had NFC West teams at 10.75 on average.

A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least six spots since last week:
  • Sando: Cowboys (-7), Seahawks (-6), Dolphins (+6), Vikings (+9).
  • Clayton: Jets (-6), Bengals (+6), Chargers (+6), Vikings (+15).
  • Graziano: none.
  • Hensley: Cowboys (-6), Seahawks (-6), Vikings (+6), Rams (+6), Redskins (+10).
  • Fox: Giants (-8), Seahawks (-8), Rams (+6), Redskins (+6), Vikings (+9).
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, Baltimore outranks Philadelphia even though the Eagles defeated the Ravens.

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.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 8/21
Friday, 8/22
Saturday, 8/23
Sunday, 8/24
WEEKLY LEADERS