Power rankings: How the voters voted

Indianapolis held off a late charge from San Diego in ESPN.com's final NFL power rankings for the 2009 season.

Both ranked among the top six heading into the regular season.

Others missed our expectations by wide margins.

The plus-10 club

Cincinnati (+15), Dallas (+13), New Orleans (+13), the New York Jets (+11) and Denver (+10) finished at least 10 places higher than where we had them entering the season.

No other team finished more than six places higher (Minnesota went from ninth to third).

The minus-10 club

The Giants (-17), Seahawks (-12), Steelers (-12) and Bears (-11) finished at least 10 places lower than where we had them entering the season.

The Redskins (-9), Titans (-8), Falcons (-8) and Patriots (-8) weren't far behind.

The pretty-much-as-predicted club

Eighteen teams finished within five places of where we had them entering the season.

Indianapolis (+5), Green Bay (+5), Arizona (+5), Houston (+5), Oakland (+4), San Diego (+3), San Francisco (+3), Cleveland (+3), Jacksonville (+2), Kansas City (+1) and Detroit (+1) were slightly better than expected.

Baltimore (-1), St. Louis (-1), Philadelphia (-3), Buffalo (-3), Carolina (-4), Tampa Bay (-4) and Miami (-5) were slightly worse than expected.

And now, a look inside the rankings ...

Rising: The Cowboys jumped five spots, the largest gain from last week. The Chiefs, Browns, 49ers, Titans, Jets, Packers and Vikings each rose two spots. The Bills, Bears, Panthers and Texans rose one spot apiece.

Falling: The Broncos fell four spots, the largest drop from last week. The Eagles fell three places. The Saints, Cardinals, Bengals, Giants and Raiders each fell two spots. The Steelers, Dolphins, Jaguars, Seahawks, Redskins and Bucs each fell one place.

Unchanged: Rankings for the Colts, Chargers, Patriots, Ravens, Falcons, Lions and Rams did not change.

Deadlocked: We broke no ties this week.

Groupthink: All four panelists ranked the Colts first, the Chargers second, the Lions 31st and the Rams 32nd.

Agree to disagree: The Bengals and Seahawks generated the widest gaps -- five places apiece -- between highest and lowest votes. The Cowboys were the only other team to generate a gap larger than three spots:

  • Seahawks (5): Paul Kuharsky and Jeff Chadiha ranked them 25th, higher than any other voter ranked them. Sando ranked them 30th, lower than any other voter ranked them.

  • Bengals (5): John Clayton sixth, Kuharsky 11th.

  • Cowboys (4): Sando and Kuharsky third, Clayton seventh.

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 13.4 on average, up slightly from last week and higher than teams from any other division. Teams from the NFC West ranked 21.6, lower than teams from any other division.

A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least four spots since the Week 17 rankings:

  • Sando: Eagles (-5), Broncos (-4)

  • Clayton: Giants (-4), Eagles (-4)

  • Kuharsky: Bengals (-6), Cowboys (+6)

  • Chadiha: Broncos (-4), Patriots (-4), Cowboys (+6)

For download: An Excel file -- available here or here -- showing how each voter voted this week and in past weeks.

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.