The Dallas Cowboys found the secret to ESPN.com Power Rankings dominance Sunday: they didn't play. The once-proud NFC East has all four teams in the top 20 of the rankings, but that's about the nicest thing you can say at this point. NFC West blogger Mike Sando has brought transparency to the voting process. Please take note of which panelists turned their backs against your favorite teams:
14. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys moved up two spots with a well-executed bye week. Wade Phillips petitioned the league to have an additional "win" added to his growing total. Sando gave the Cowboys their highest vote of "13." but John "The Professor" Clayton neutralized that optimism with a "16" on his ballot. Clayton's the dean of ESPN.com voters and he's done a nice job advising our newer panelists on how to overvalue the Redskins on a weekly basis.
16. Washington Redskins: Clayton may have been in Sando's wedding, but that doesn't mean they've found common ground on the Skins. Clayton predictably moved them up to "13" after the upset win over the Eagles. But Sando had the Skins at No. 23! James Walker of AFC North fame followed his mentor's lead, ranking the Redskins a stunning 13th as well. Paul Kuharsky, who has tremendous influence in the Brentwood, Tenn., area, checked in with a No. 17 vote, which seems more reasonable to me.
17. Philadelphia Eagles: For whatever reason, Kuharsky refuses to give up on this team. He's stood by the Eagles through some tough times this season, and the loss of Michael Vick has not swayed him. Paul gave the Eagles a No. 12 vote while the rest of the voters checked in with "18s" on their respective ballots.
20. New York Giants: Walker loved that win over the Bears. He had the Giants at "14," but Kuharsky crushed his efforts with a devastating "22" vote that may or may not have been influenced by Tiki Barber.
Walker did his best to dig the "Beast" out its large hole with an average ranking of "15" but Sando trumped him with an "18.25" average. Sando thinks the AFC West is better than the NFC East. Chew on that for a little while. Then send him a polite e-mail or fax.
All my best.