NFL Nation: James Walker
As expected, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles both dropped a few spots, causing Alex Barron to once again give Roy Williams an apologetic dap. Thanks to panelist Mike Sando, the voting process is no longer shrouded in secrecy. We're hopefully moving toward a time of unprecedented transparency when readers will have John Clayton's cellphone number so they can leave thoughtful messages such as, "What's your fascination with the Redskins this season, John?"
Now let's have a look at the damage:
No. 8 Dallas Cowboys: Clayton had been bullish on the Cowboys for much of the offseason, but he docked them severely for a 13-7 loss to the Redskins on Sunday night with a No. 11 vote. Perhaps factoring in the Cowboys' missing starters on the offensive line, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky had the Cowboys at 7.
No. 14 Washington Redskins: The Skins moved up three spots in no small part because Clayton had them eighth in the league. Seriously. He moved Washington ahead of the Vikings and Chargers on his ballot. Kuharsky and Sando didn't overreact to one game and left the Skins in a holding pattern at 16.
No. 16 New York Giants: The Giants also moved up three spots in the Rankings thanks to the help of AFC North blogger James Walker, who is new to the panel this season. Walker loved the win over the Panthers so much that he moved the Giants to 13. Sando and Kuharsky again took a wait-and-see approach with a No. 17 vote on their ballots, which are tabulated by a private accounting firm in Farmington, Conn.
No. 18 Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles dropped three spots because Sando showed no mercy following that 27-20 loss to the Packers. Kuharsky's 14 vote kept the Eagles in the hunt. After that debacle to open the season, I think the voters were actually kind to the Eagles. Perhaps it's the excitement over Michael Vick that prevented the Eagles from going into a free fall.
Regrettably, the AFC South has moved past the Beast in the rankings this week. Our self-appointed review panel (Tim Graham and myself) will continue to keep a close eye on Kuharsky's voting habits. He had the Jaguars ranked at least three spots higher than any other voter this week, which has caused us to arch our eyebrows slightly. It's worth pointing out, though, that he gave the Texans their lowest ranking after the big win over the Colts.
NFC East power rankings:
4. Dallas Cowboys -- John "The Professor" Clayton gave the Cowboys their highest ranking at No. 2, but he was canceled out by Kuharsky's No. 6 vote. Paul has the Ravens and Packers ahead of the Cowboys. Dallas moved up one spot in the rankings from April's edition. And the Cowboys were fourth overall in the Week 18 power rankings last January. This sounds about right to me. After what happened in the Metrodome last January, it probably wouldn't be fair to move the Cowboys past the Vikings.
16. New York Giants -- This is where things got a little nutty with our voters. John Clayton obviously believes that Tom Coughlin will get this thing back on track with his No. 11 vote. But Kuharsky, a longtime critic of the Beast, has the Giants at No. 20 overall. I encourage you to flood his "comments" section on the AFC South blog. I think the Giants will bounce back and challenge for a playoff spot, so 20 seems a bit low to me. AFC North blogger James Walker and the NFC West's Mike Sando had the Giants 15th and 18th, respectively, on their ballot. Our panelists had huge disagreements on the Eagles and Redskins and they're currently not speaking to each other.
17. Philadelphia Eagles -- The panel's sudden passion for Donovan McNabb and the Redskins has hurt the Eagles' ranking. Philly fell four spots from April's rankings. Clayton dropped the Eagles four spots from the last time he voted. Perhaps he wasn't pleased with Andy Reid and Howie Roseman's draft. Kuharsky gave the Eagles their highest ranking at No. 12 while Clayton had them at No. 22. That was the biggest disparity in the entire ranking process. In fact, I've asked for a review board to take a look at this situation and see what can be done.
20. Washington Redskins -- At this rate, the Skins will crack the top 15 before the regular season. Clayton continues to be bullish on Mike Shanahan (No. 15), but he was somewhat neutralized by Sando's No. 23 vote. Kuharsky had the Skins at 17 and Walker came in at 19.
Moral of this story: The Cowboys appear to be the closest thing to a lock heading into training camp. No one seems to have a good read on the other three teams, and I'm having the same issue. So where do you guys stand? Did the Beast get a fair shake in the rankings?
By the way, check out these colorful charts that track every team's rankings back to 2002.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
After a flurry of activity in free agency last week, things have calmed down this week. That is, if you don't count a certain free-agent wide receiver. Anyway, the Philadelphia Eagles have zeroed in on a replacement for Brian Dawkins -- and he looks like a good one.
Every time I hear the name Sean Jones, it makes me think of the former Oilers defensive end. But the player the Eagles are talking to is the Cleveland Browns' Sean Jones, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound strong safety who would likely move to free safety.
Jones, the Browns' second-round draft pick in 2004, has 14 interceptions over the past three seasons. That's the third-best total for a safety in the league during that time period. And as Bob Brookover pointed out today in the Inquirer, Jones has as many interceptions in that time period as all Eagles safeties combined.
Say what you will about the regrettable Browns' defense, but the secondary wasn't that bad last season. In fact, Jones led a pretty talented group. And he did so without the help of a consistent pass rush. I'll get AFC North blogger James Walker on the phone real quick (if he's up yet) and see what he thinks about Jones.