The Cardinals' 30-17 victory over the Vikings helped Arizona rank sixth in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings for Week 14.
A relatively easy closing schedule should help the Cardinals move higher in the coming weeks.
I ranked them third this week, higher than the Vikings, after watching them improve to 7-1 since their bye week when Kurt Warner starts at quarterback. The Cardinals' victory over Minnesota marked their most impressive regular-season performance in recent memory. Warner has 12 touchdown passes without an interception in his last 14 quarters.
The other ESPN panelists weren't quite as impressed. They voted the Cardinals sixth, same as I had them last week. They left Minnesota third behind New Orleans and Indianapolis.
Our top six teams nearly matched the order listed when sorting the league standings on NFL.com.
I was the only panelist to shake up his voting among the top three.
The Colts and Saints are so impressive that it's tough to single out one from week to week.
The Saints went from outclassing New England in Week 12 to outlasting Washington in Week 13. The Colts went from needing a comeback against Houston to handling Tennessee rather easily. That was enough for me to move Indianapolis back into the top spot, subject to change, of course.
The chart shows my votes in the first column, followed by votes from Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Jeff Chadiha.
A look inside the rankings ...
Rising: The Dolphins rose five spots, the largest gains from last week. The Packers, Jaguars and Seahawks each rose four spots. The Giants and Raiders rose three apiece. The Cardinals, Jets and Panthers each rose two. The Eagles and Broncos moved up one spot each.
Falling: The Patriots dropped five spots, the largest fall from last week. The Texans and Falcons each fell four places. The 49ers, Ravens, Steelers and Cowboys fell three places apiece. The Bills fell two. The Chiefs, Redskins, Bears and Titans each dropped one spot.
Unchanged: Rankings for the Saints, Colts, Vikings, Chargers, Bengals, Lions, Bucs, Rams and Browns did not change.
Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. San Diego prevailed over Cincinnati on the third tiebreaker (which team won most recently). The Chargers had the longer winning streak.
Groupthink: All four panelists ranked the Redskins 27th, the Chiefs 28th, the Lions 29th and the Browns 32nd.
Agree to disagree: The Titans and Bears generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes, six spots apiece. One other team generated a disparity of at least four spots:
Titans (6): Sando ranked them 13th, higher than any other voter ranked them. Clayton and Chadiha ranked them 19th, lower than any other voter ranked them.
Bears (6): Clayton 20th, Sando 26th.
Ravens (4): Clayton 14th, Kuharsky 18th.
Power rankings histories: These colorful layered graphs show where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
Ranking the divisions: Teams from the AFC South ranked 13.5 on average, higher than teams from any other division. Teams from the NFC West ranked 20.1, lower than teams from any other division.
A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least four spots since the Week 13 rankings:
Sando: Ravens (-5), Steelers (-5), Patriots (-4), 49ers (-4), Raiders (+4), Packers (+6), Dolphins (+6)
Clayton: none (seven teams moved three spots)
Kuharsky: Patriots (-8), Falcons (-5), Steelers (-5), Packers (+6), Raiders (+6)
Chadiha: Cowboys (-4), Texans (-4), Patriots (-4), 49ers (-4), Dolphins (+4), Seahawks (+5)
The file includes a "powerflaws" sheet pointing out potential flaws in voters' thinking by showing how many higher-ranked opponents each team has defeated.
A quick primer on the "powerflaws" sheet:
Column Y features team rankings.
Column Z shows how many times a team has defeated higher-ranked teams.
Change the rankings in column Y as you see fit.
Re-sort column Y in ascending order (1 to 32) using the standard Excel pull-down menu atop the column.
The information in column Z, which reflects potential ranking errors, will change (with the adjusted total highlighted in yellow atop the column).
The lower the figure in that yellow box, the fewer conflicts.