NFL Nation: Paul Kuharsky
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
Since it's been two months since our last power rankings release party, ESPN.com decided to release a fresh edition today. You may notice that the Beast no longer has a seat at the voting table, which will allow me to be even more critical of the remaining panelists -- Mike Sando, Paul Kuharsky, John Clayton and Jeff Chadiha. First off, here's how NFC East teams finished in the rankings:
3. Giants: This is where the Giants were back in May, and it's probably about right. I would've ranked them second, though.
4. Eagles: Same place they were in May. We'll keep a close eye on this Brian Westbrook injury situation. I wouldn't expect to see much (if any) of him in the preseason.
14. Cowboys: The Cowboys actually fell a spot since May. Perhaps one of the voters didn't like what he saw in organied training activities or is worried about The Breakup.
20. Redskins: Washington also fell a spot from its No. 19 ranking in May. I think that's a little low, but you'd have a hard time moving them into the top 15. I'm anxious to see if Devin Thomas or Malcolm Kelly shows some big-time improvement in training camp.
Chadiha and Clayton gave the Giants their lowest rankings at No. 4. Sando hurt the Eagles by ranking them sixth. He's easy to find on Facebook, Eagles fans. He absolutely loves the interaction.
Kuharsky, who has put the AFC South blog on the map, gave the Cowboys their lowest ranking at No. 15. Clayton had them at their original No. 14. Sando continued his assault on Beast teams by ranking the Skins No. 22. I have two calls into him for an explanation, but he's ducking me right now. I think the Vikings are the most overrated team in the rankings at this point. They checked in at No. 9. Kuharsky and Sando had them about right at No. 12, but Chadiha's fallen in love with them for some reason. The Vikings went from No. 14 to No. 9 in two months. Maybe Clayton and Chadiha were voting under the belief that Brett Favre would decide to play.
Much more to come.
Thanks for your continued interest in the NFC East blog.
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