NFL Nation: 2012 Week 9 NFL power rankings

Here's a look at how the AFC West teams fared in the Week 9 Power Rankings. I do not have a vote, but I do have an opinion:

Denver Broncos

Power ranking: 9

My range: 8-10

Comment: Are the Broncos ready to stay in the top 10?

San Diego Chargers

Power ranking: 20

My range: 22-24

Comment: When is the bottom going to fall out in San Diego?

Oakland Raiders

Power ranking: 24

My range: 22-24

Comment: Is this the week the Raiders leapfrog San Diego?

Kansas City Chiefs

Power ranking: 32

My range: 31-32

Comment: I could see the Chiefs staying in this spot for a while.

NFL Power Rankings: Colts jump

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
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The Colts didn’t exactly beat the Falcons on Sunday. But their come-from-behind win over the Titans in overtime in Nashville still boosted them eight spots, to 15th.

It was the biggest leap in this week’s edition of the ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings, ahead of Tampa Bay (plus-five), Miami (plus-four) and Oakland (plus-four).

The Texans, coming off their bye, held steady at third in an unchanged top five. The Titans and Jaguars are in the bottom six.

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

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


Here’s Mike Sando’s weekly breakdown of how the voters voted.
The latest ESPN.com Power Rankings are out and the Atlanta Falcons remain in the top spot for the third straight week.

The difference this week, though, is I think you now can make a strong argument that the Falcons really are the best team in the NFL. That’s because they put together their most complete game of the season on Sunday in Philadelphia. The Giants, Texans, 49ers and Bears area also very good, but I think you now can argue the Falcons are better because what happened in Philadelphia gives more evidence than just an undefeated record.

As has been the case since early in the season, there’s a big gap between the Falcons and the rest of the NFC South.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rose five spots to No. 21 with their impressive victory against Minnesota, but the other two NFC South teams continued to tumble.

The New Orleans Saints fell six spots to No. 26, which is the worst ranking I can recall for the Saints in the five seasons I’ve been covering the NFC South.

The Carolina Panthers are No. 30. They tumbled only one spot, but I think that’s only because the Jaguars and Chiefs have such a strong hold on the bottom two spots.

Power Rankings: The Giants and the rest

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
12:30
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It is Power Rankings day here at ESPN.com. Here's a look at the way our division's teams landed in this week's poll, and the thinking behind my own personal ballot.

2. New York Giants (Last week: 2). Complain all you want about how shaky the offense looked and the inability to convert turnovers into touchdowns. The Giants' victory over the Cowboys was still a road win against a motivated division opponent with a very tough defense. I had them at No. 2 last week and again this week. Thought about Houston, but they're an AFC team and the AFC stinks. Thought about the 49ers, who looked great again Monday (from what I'm told by people whose electricity and cable were working), but we recently saw the Giants clobber them in San Francisco. So I feel fine about the Giants at No. 2 behind the league's only unbeaten team. Mike Sando and Ashley Fox agree. John Clayton and Jamison Hensley ranked the Giants third and the Texans second.

14. Dallas Cowboys (15). Dallas actually moved up a spot following a loss, and I'll take some credit for that, as I moved them up from No. 13 to No. 12. Thought they played really well except for the first-quarter turnovers. Thought the defense looked outstanding, under very difficult circumstances brought on by said turnovers, against one of the league's best offenses. Now, no one else has the Cowboys ranked as high as I do, and Jamison, who I think picked them to win the Super Bowl before the season started, is so mad about the extent to which they've let him down that he's dropped them all the way to No. 20. I didn't see too many teams behind them on my list that I felt good about sliding ahead of them, especially once I decided this would be the week to drop the Eagles a very long way. Miami, Washington, Detroit and Seattle are the first four teams behind Dallas on my ballot, and I feel fine putting the Cowboys ahead of each of them. Yes, the Seahawks beat them head-to-head. If the Seahawks never had to play a road game, I'd think much more highly of them. But I can't buy into a team that can only win at home.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (13). The poll's second-biggest faller of the week, behind only the Saints, is the Eagles after their third loss in a row. They looked flat and uninspired at home against the Falcons in a game they really needed, and I am at the point where I no longer believe their potential is as vast as I believed it to be before the season began. I had the Eagles ranked third in the preseason poll, ninth for much of the year, 11th last week and this week I dropped them to No. 19. Clayton's still got them up at 13, and maybe he's right. But I can't keep clinging to what I think they should be when what I see is garbage.

19. Washington Redskins (18). I kept them at 14, where I had them last week. Yeah, they looked bad. But I'm trying not to overreact too much to one game on these polls, and while Washington is a bottom-of-the-league defense, the offense is really quite good when the receivers catch the ball. And Detroit, Seattle, Arizona, Indianapolis and Philadelphia are the teams I rank immediately behind them. I think the Redskins make a fine case to be ranked ahead of each of those teams.

Your thoughts?

NFL Power Rankings: How they voted

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
12:00
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The top eight teams in ESPN's previous NFL Power Rankings combined to go 6-0 in Week 8.

That helps explain why the top five remained the same for the first time since Weeks 4-5. The Atlanta Falcons (7-0), New York Giants (6-2), Houston Texans (6-1), San Francisco 49ers (6-2) and Chicago Bears (6-1) are a combined 31-6.

The road ahead is tougher for some than for others.

The Falcons' remaining opponents have won at a .415 rate so far this season. That gives Atlanta the NFL's fourth-easiest schedule the rest of the way, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago has the fifth-toughest remaining schedule (.586). The others fall in between: Giants (.552, eighth-toughest), Texans (.515, 13th) and 49ers (.508, 14th).

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

Falling (13): New Orleans Saints (-6), Philadelphia Eagles (-5), San Diego Chargers (-3), Minnesota Vikings (-2), Seattle Seahawks (-2), Arizona Cardinals (-2), St. Louis Rams (-2), Tennessee Titans (-2), Baltimore Ravens (-1), Washington Redskins (-1), New York Jets (-1), Buffalo Bills (-1), Carolina Panthers (-1).

Rising (9): Indianapolis Colts (+8), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5), Miami Dolphins (+4), Oakland Raiders (+4), Denver Broncos (+3), Detroit Lions (+2), Green Bay Packers (+1), Dallas Cowboys (+1), Cleveland Browns (+1).

Unchanged (10): Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs.

Deadlocked: We broke three ties this week. New England beat out Denver at No. 8 based on the first tiebreaker, head-to-head results this season. Indianapolis prevailed over Arizona at No. 15 based on the second tiebreaker, better record. Detroit edged Philadelphia at No. 17 based on head-to-head results.

Like minds: All five voters had the Falcons first and the Chiefs last.

Agree to disagree: Nine votes separated highest and lowest votes for the Redskins. That was the largest disparity for any team.

A look at all teams generating high-low gaps of at least seven spots in the rankings:
  • Redskins (9): Dan Graziano 14th, Sando 23rd.
  • Cowboys (8): Graziano 12th, Jamison Hensley 20th.
  • Colts (8): Ashley Fox 13th, John Clayton 21st.
  • Lions (8): Sando 14th, Fox 22nd.
  • Chargers (7): Fox 15th, Graziano and Hensley 22nd.
  • Buccaneers (7): Hensley 16th, Fox 23rd.
  • Rams (7): Hensley and Fox 21st, Clayton 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 North improved from 10.2 to 9.9 in average ranking, widening the gap between the top two divisions. NFC East teams remained second despite falling from 11.9 to 13.4 on average. The NFC West continued its tumble after posting a 1-3 record for the third week in a row. Teams from that division fell from 12.8 to 14.5. That was good enough to hold on to third place among divisions. Also: AFC North (17.0), AFC East (18.3), AFC South (18.9) and AFC West (21.1).

A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least five spots since last week:
  • Sando: Cardinals (-5), Raiders (+6), Colts (+9).
  • Clayton: Saints (-5), Rams (-5), Broncos (+6).
  • Graziano: Eagles (-8), Colts (+5), Dolphins (+5).
  • Hensley: Saints (-6), Chargers (-5), Colts (+5), Buccaneers (+8), Lions (+9).
  • Fox: Saints (-6), Broncos (+9), Colts (+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, Green Bay ranks lower than Chicago and Houston despite having defeated both teams.

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.

Power Rankings: Dolphins on the rise

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
12:00
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Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey had an interesting quote after Sunday’s 30-9 victory over the New York Jets.

“It shows the NFL what we can do,” Pouncey said. "I think we deserve a little bit of respect now that we’re winning football games."

ESPN.com’s Power Rankings panel has taken notice.

The Dolphins, who won their third straight game, had one of the biggest jumps in this week’s rankings. Miami moved up four spots to No. 12, which is its highest ranking of the season.

Miami (4-3) is winning games by playing efficient in all three phases and has positioned itself to contend for a playoff spot in the second half of the season.

Here are the entire Power Rankings for the AFC East:
We are starting to see a separation between AFC East teams. Two weeks ago, there was a four-way tie for first place. Now, it’s much clearer who the contenders and pretenders are.

I was surprised the Patriots’ 45-7 drubbing of the St. Louis Rams didn’t move New England (5-3) up in the rankings. The Jets (3-5) dropped one place after losing at home to Miami, and the Bills (3-4) also dropped one place during their bye week.

NFL Week 9 Power Rankings: NFC North

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
12:00
PM ET
Let's check in on this week's ESPN.com's Power Rankings:

5. Chicago Bears
Trending: No change after squeaking by with a 23-22 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Comment: The Bears are the NFL's lowest-ranked one-loss team, but I can understand the skittishness after a near-upset at home to the Panthers.

6. Green Bay Packers
Trending: Up one after defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-15.
Comment: The Packers are the highest-ranked team with at least three losses, but the general consensus is they are moving in the right direction after a three-game winning streak.

11. Minnesota Vikings
Trending: Down two after a 36-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Comment: I was frankly surprised the Vikings didn't drop more after a weak home loss to the previously 2-4 Buccaneers.

17. Detroit Lions
Trending: Up two after a 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Comment: Voter Ashley Fox isn't a believer. She had the Lions ranked No. 22, offsetting a No. 14 vote from Mike Sando and a No. 15 vote from Dan Graziano.
The AFC North has two teams in the top 10 and two teams in the bottom 11. I'm sure you can guess which teams are near the top and near the bottom. Here's a recap of the Week 9 power rankings:

BALTIMORE RAVENS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 7

My ranking: No. 7

2012 record: 5-2

Comment: I had the Ravens at No. 7 and kept them there coming off their bye. But Baltimore fell a spot in the power rankings, and I'm a little surprised by that. The Packers moved ahead of the Ravens even though they had an unimpressive win over Jacksonville. Of the three teams with two losses, the Ravens are the lowest ranked.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 10

My ranking: No. 10

2012 record: 4-3

Comment: The Steelers remain at No. 10 despite a decisive win over the Redskins. But you can't argue with them staying at this spot. No one lost in the top eight and the Broncos jumped ahead of Pittsburgh to No. 9. The Steelers should be behind the Broncos after a season-opening loss at Denver.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 22

My ranking: No. 25

2012 record: 3-4

Comment: It was only four weeks ago when the Bengals were 3-1 and ranked No. 12 in the power rankings. A three-game losing streak has caused a free fall to their lowest ranking of the season. This is the sixth time in coach Marvin Lewis' 10 seasons that the Bengals are coming off their bye with a losing record.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

ESPN Power Ranking: No. 29

My ranking: No. 29

2012 record: 2-6

Comment: The Browns continue their slow climb up the power rankings, moving past the Panthers. Cleveland is one of two two-win teams in the NFL. The other, the Saints, are No. 26. This is the first time this year that the Browns haven't been ranked in the 30s.

Here are my rankings:

1. Falcons

2. Texans

3. Giants

4. 49ers

5. Bears

6. Packers

7. Ravens

8. Patriots

9. Broncos

10. Steelers

11. Dolphins

12. Vikings

13. Cardinals

14. Seahawks

15. Colts

16. Buccaneers

17. Lions

18. Redskins

19. Eagles

20. Cowboys

21. Rams

22. Chargers

23. Jets

24. Titans

25. Bengals

26. Raiders

27. Saints

28. Bills

29. Browns

30. Panthers

31. Jaguars

32. Chiefs

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