Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Broncos found their way into the top five and the Bengals were right behind them in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings for Week 6.
These once-floundering franchises are a combined 8-0 against the rest of the league.
It's fitting, in retrospect, the Broncos needed an improbable touchdown heave to beat the Bengals in Week 1. No one could have known this would stand as a game between apparent 2009 contenders.
The chart shows my votes in column one, with votes from John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Jeffri Chadiha thereafter. The top four teams in the rankings were unchanged from a week ago. Each panelist kept his votes for the Colts, Giants and Vikings unchanged.
Clayton moved the Broncos from fifth to fourth on his ballot, displacing idle New Orleans. It wasn't enough to change the order for the top four teams.
A look inside the rankings ...
Rising: The Bengals rose five spots to No. 6, the largest gain from Week 5. The Seahawks rose four spots to No. 20. The Panthers, Eagles, Dolphins and Broncos each rose three spots. The Bears and Steelers rose two. The Browns, Falcons and Lions each rose one.
Falling: The Ravens, Patriots and Jets each fell four spots. The 49ers and Jaguars fell three spots apiece. The Titans, Bills, Redskins and Texans each dropped two places. The Raiders and idle Packers moved down one spot.
Unchanged: Rankings for the Colts, Giants, Vikings, Saints, Chargers, Cowboys, Cardinals, Chiefs, Bucs and Rams all held firm.
Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. Pittsburgh prevailed over Green Bay based on a better record.
Groupthink: All four panelists ranked the Bengals sixth. Three had the Eagles seventh, the Ravens 11th, the Cardinals 18th, the Seahawks 20th, the Texans 22nd and the Rams 32nd.
Agree to disagree: For the third week in a row, the Redskins generated the widest gap -- seven spots -- between highest and lowest votes. Six other teams generated disparities of at least five spots:
Redskins (7): Chadiha ranked them 21st, higher than any voter ranked them. Sando ranked them 28th, lower than any voter ranked them.
Bears (5): Clayton ninth, Kuharsky 14th.
Browns (5): Clayton 25th, Kuharsky 30th.
Titans (5): Sando 24th, Clayton 29th.
49ers (5): Kuharsky 12th, Sando and Clayton 17th.
Jets (5): Kuharsky seventh, Clayton 12th.
Patriots (5): Kuharsky eighth, Clayton 13th.
Power rankings histories: We now offer colorful layered graphs showing where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
Ranking the divisions: NFC East teams ranked 12.8 on average, up from 13.1 last week and higher than any other division's teams. NFC West remained below AFC West teams as the lowest-ranked division on average. The chart below shows how each voter ranked each division on average. Highest votes in red. Lowest votes in blue.
A voter-by-voter look at changes of at least four spots since the Week 5 rankings:
Sando: Seahawks (+6), Bengals (+5), Dolphins (+5), Ravens (-4), Texans (-4), Jaguars (-4), Bills (-5)
Clayton: Bengals (+5), Bears (+4), Browns (+4), Titans (-4), Patriots (-6), Jets (-6)
Kuharsky: Bengals (+7), Broncos (+5), Ravens (-4)
Chadiha: Cardinals (+4), Falcons (+4), Eagles (+4), Seahawks (+4), Ravens (-4), Texans (-4), Jaguars (-4), Patriots (-4), Jets (-4), 49ers (-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. For example, the Falcons ranked ahead of the Patriots even though New England defeated Atlanta this season.
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.