A weekly examination of the Bengals' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 9 | Last Week: 7 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
With Sunday's three-score win over the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals closed out the 2013 season at No. 7 in the ESPN.com weekly Power Rankings. That's the exact same spot they reached with a blowout win over the Vikings the week before, and it's two spots higher than where they began the year. Ultimately, seventh is probably a good place for the Bengals to be. It is higher than where our experts expected them to be when the preseason began. A top-10 placement also rewards the Bengals for their 8-0 home showing this regular season, but punishes them just enough for the comparatively abysmal 3-5 record they had on the road.
As they go into the playoffs, the Bengals are outpaced in the Power Rankings by only two AFC teams: the Denver Broncos (No. 2) and New England Patriots (No. 5). Sunday's first-round opponent, the Chargers, ended the season ranked 12th after winning their last four games. San Diego's last loss came against the Bengals on Dec. 1.
Last week, none of the six voters representing the Power Rankings panel had the Bengals ranked lower than ninth. But in this week's final ballot, Kevin Seifert dropped them to 11th. He had Cincinnati ranked eighth entering Week 17, and moved them down three spots following Sunday's big division win.