Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Cardinals' victory over the Giants had barely ended when an Arizona fan sent a pre-emptive strike at the ESPN.com power rankings scheduled for Tuesday.
"Watch this," Leesters wrote. "Everyone will now say that the Giants really aren't good, and the Cards still won't be taken as a Top 10 team in this league."
They'll be a top-10 team on my ballot, Leesters. This was a defining victory. Arizona, 3-0 away from University of Phoenix Stadium, can now reasonably expect to finish with a winning record on the road (trips to St. Louis, Detroit and Tennessee remain).
The chart shows how the four ESPN.com panelists voted last week, with my votes listed before those of John Clayton, Matt Williamson and Jeff Chadiha. Red shading identifies teams that lost in Week 7. Four top 10 teams lost, clearing the way for others -- Arizona among them, at least in my view -- to make a charge.
What to do at the top?
I'll keep the Colts first and the Saints second, most likely, although I would not argue against New Orleans as the top team. I've had the Colts first for a while and they have held up their end. Both teams rallied to beat the Dolphins in Miami. The discussion continues below.
First, the power rankings revisited ...
The reckoning: Five games featured lower-ranked teams defeating higher-ranked teams:
(24) Buffalo 20, (22) Carolina 9. The Panthers should have asked for a gift receipt when they signed Jake Delhomme to that fat contract.
(19) Dallas 37, (7) Atlanta 21. It's nice knowing Cowboys fans will keep things in perspective and refrain from crowing too loudly.
(17) Houston 24, (15) San Francisco 21. The Texans could not afford to let this one slip away, but they almost did.
(16) Arizona 24, (5) New York Giants 17. A chance to face the Panthers' passing game should help the Cardinals' injured defensive backs heal ahead of schedule.
(8) Pittsburgh 27, (3) Minnesota 17. Hearing Tony Dungy rip referee Ron Winter and crew for calling phantom penalties must have made current head coaches smile.
Still to play: (12) Philadelphia at (27) Washington on "Monday Night Football."
Welcome to Loserville: The Browns, Chiefs, Rams, Bucs, Raiders and Bears lost by a combined score of 228-33. Bye weeks for the Titans, Lions, Seahawks and Jaguars might have limited the damage.
Doing 120 in the southbound lane: Chicago, Carolina, Oakland. And to think, some knucklehead included Jay Cutler on his MVP Watch list within the last week. It won't happen again, at least for a while.
Northbound in a hurry: Dallas, Arizona. Both improved to 4-2 with victories over 2008 playoff teams. The Bengals deserve mention here, too. They were already ranked in the top 10, though, so there wasn't as much room for movement north.
My early favorite for the No. 1 spot: Indianapolis, again, but the Saints' recent success against a tougher schedule is making me reconsider. An impressive Saints victory over the Falcons in Week 8 might be enough even if the Colts win again (and they likely will, against the 49ers). Don't blow it, Saints.