Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Even the best teams tend to lose a game or two. That's why I'm inclined to leave the Giants in the top spot of my power rankings ballot, unless someone can convince me otherwise.
I've made some adjustments to my previous ballot, which drew unwaveringly constructive criticism for ranking the Broncos (admittedly) too high. The Giants, Titans and Steelers comprise the top three at present. These aren't due until after the Monday night game, which will likely affect the top five.
One goal is to balance season-long accomplishments with what teams have done lately. The Jets' recent defeats to the Broncos and 49ers will knock them down quite a bit. How far should they fall? How high should the 49ers move after winning three of four, including consecutive games against AFC East teams? How high should the Eagles climb after blowing out the Cardinals and defeating the Giants in back-to-back weeks?
All things to consider as we shape the rankings. I'll provide a preliminary ranking of the 32 teams below as a starting point for discussion. I used the composite Week 14 rankings as a starting point. Feedback appreciated as always.
New York Giants
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New England Patriots
New York Jets
New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ers
Green Bay Packers
San Diego Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs
St. Louis Rams
Also: Download this file to help with the rankings. The file helps spot potential flaws in the rankings by pointing out when a team has defeated higher-ranked teams. How to use it:
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.
Conflicts become inevitable this late in the season. Some teams have already split their season series. Others have faded after beating higher-ranked teams.