In the end, the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) broke the tie over the New Orleans Saints (3-1) for the top spot this week. Despite a loss, Pittsburgh received one first-place vote and two second-place votes from our four-person panel.
But ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton raised some eyebrows in our community by ranking the Steelers No. 6. Clayton has been ahead of the curve all season with the Steelers but suddenly jumped off the bandwagon this week.
The AFC North blog caught up with The Professor to get his explanation.
John, why Pittsburgh at No. 6 this week?
Clayton: Really all the 3-1 teams, there's no real standout right now. They're all real close. So I went with the Jets [at No. 1] because they won three in a row. Probably if it was set up the other way where the Steelers had won three in a row, I might have gone in that direction. But the fact that, even though they played a great game and lost at home, I couldn't put them ahead of Baltimore...So if I go with Baltimore No. 5, which I did, then you go with Pittsburgh No. 6.
Did quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's return from suspension have any impact on your vote this week?
Clayton: I'm going with the first four weeks. Obviously if you go with Ben, then what you're doing is going into Week 6. There is no Week 5; they have a bye week. So there's nothing that's tangibly going to change. What will end up changing is a couple teams in the Top 5 could start to lose or something like that. So, no, I didn't factor the "Ben factor" in. I'm going off the performance of the first four weeks.
So there you have it. There is no scientific way to vote 32 NFL teams in order, so everyone has their own methods and opinions. Personally, I moved the Steelers up two spots despite the loss, because I believe they're stronger than they were several days ago with Roethlisberger back.
Where would you rank the Steelers this week?