Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Aaron Rodgers' convincing performance during the 2009 exhibition season presumably explained the Packers' rise in the ESPN.com power rankings released Tuesday.
Green Bay moved within striking distance of the top 10 despite a 6-10 record last season.
Rodgers, prolific last season while topping 4,000 yards passing, might need help for the Packers to continue their climb during the regular season.
"It all comes down to whether that defense can play better with a new 3-4 scheme," wrote ESPN.com senior writer Jeff Chadiha, the only voter to rank Green Bay lower than 11th.
A look inside the rankings ...
Rising: The Packers jumped six spots from 17th to 11th, easily the largest gain from our July 26 rankings. The Seahawks moved up three spots to 15th (continuing a rise from No. 22 in the May rankings). The Bears (13th to 11th), Chargers (6th to 5th) and Saints (19th to 18th) were the only other risers.
Falling: The Texans, Cowboys and Panthers each dropped three spots. The Chiefs, Dolphins, Cardinals and Colts each dropped one spot.
Unchanged: Twenty-one teams' rankings remained unchanged from July, including the top four, the seventh through 10th teams and the 20th through 32nd teams.
Deadlocked: Voting produced one tie, with the Packers and Bears at No. 11. We moved the Bears ahead on the strength of a significantly better 2008 record.
Groupthink: All four voters ranked the Steelers first. All four ranked the Rams 30th. Three of four had the Bucs 27th.
Agree to disagree: The Vikings, Packers and Panthers generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes -- 10 spots apiece. Fourteen teams generated disagreements at least five spots wide:
Vikings (10): Clayton ranked them fourth, higher than any voter ranked them. Kuharsky ranked them 14th, lower than any voter ranked them.
Packers (10): Sando eighth, Chadiha 18th.
Panthers (10): Chadiha seventh, Kuharsky 17th.
Dolphins (8): Chadiha 11th, Clayton 19th.
Chargers (7): Clayton second, Chadiha ninth.
Titans (7): Kuharsky fourth, Sando 11th.
Bengals (7): Clayton 21st, Chadiha 28th.
Broncos (7): Chadiha 24th, Clayton 31st.
Bears (6): Sando ninth, Chadiha 15th.
Saints (6): Kuharsky 13th, Chadiha 19th.
Browns (6): Clayton 25th, Kuharsky 31st.
Colts (5): Sando and Kuharsky fifth, Chadiha 10th.
Chiefs (5): Kuharsky 26th, Chadiha 31st.
Raiders (5): Chadiha 27th, Kuharsky 32nd.
Ranking the divisions: NFC East teams ranked 11.1 on average, best for any division. AFC West teams ranked 22.8 on average, worst for any division. The chart below shows how each voter ranked teams from each division on average. Each division's highest ranking is in red. Lowest rankings are in blue.
Stock watch by voter
A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least three spots since the July rankings.
Sando: Packers (+9), Bears (+4), Ravens (-3), Panthers (-3), Texans (-4), Cardinals (-6)
Clayton: Saints (+4), Chargers (+4), Redskins (+4), Packers (+3), Vikings (+3), Bucs (-3), Bills (-4), Bears (-4), Eagles (-4), Cowboys (-5), Texans (-5)
Kuharsky: Packers (+8), Saints (+4), Seahawks (+3), Panthers (-3), Cowboys (-3), Texans (-3), Dolphins (-3)
Chadiha: No changes from July rankings.
For download: An Excel file -- available here or here -- showing how each voter voted this week and in past weeks. In future weeks, similar files will point out potential flaws in each voter's rankings based upon game results.