Let there be no doubt about the three best teams in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings for Week 10.
John Clayton's decision to move the Saints above the injury-depleted Colts on his latest ballot made New Orleans the consensus No. 1 team. When Jeff Chadiha moved the Vikings above the Broncos on his ballot, ESPN's panelists had finally reached consensus at the top.
New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minnesota -- in that order -- filled the top three spots on all ballots.
The chart shows my votes in column one, with votes from Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Chadiha thereafter.
The Steelers made a strong case for a place among the top three, I thought. They've beaten the Vikings, after all. But their defeat to the Bengals complicated the decision for me. If we moved the Steelers above the Vikings, where would Cincinnati go?
I left the Broncos ahead of the Patriots for now based on their head-to-head matchup even though we're deep enough in the season to discount results for any one game, at least to a degree.
A look inside the rankings ...
Rising: The Chargers rose four spots to No. 12, the largest gain from last week. The Cardinals, Dolphins and Titans each rose three spots. The Bengals, Steelers, Falcons and Panthers rose two. The Texans and Bucs moved up one spot.
Falling: The Packers and Ravens each dropped four spots, the largest drops from last week. The Broncos fell three places. The Bills, Bears and Eagles each fell two places. The Browns, Redskins, Seahawks, Jaguars, 49ers and Patriots each dropped one spot.
Unchanged: Rankings for Saints, Colts, Vikings, Cowboys, Giants, Jets, Raiders, Chiefs, Lions and Rams remained the same.
Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. The Dolphins prevailed over the Jets for the 17th spot based on their sweep of the season series.
Groupthink: All four panelists ranked the Saints first, the Colts second, the Vikings third and the Redskins 26th.
Agree to disagree: The Panthers generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes -- nine spots -- after playing the Saints tough through three quarters. Four other teams generated disparities of at least five spots:
Panthers (9): Sando ranked them 15th, higher than any other voter ranked them. Clayton ranked them 24th, lower than any other voter ranked them.
49ers (6): Kuharsky 16th, Sando and Clayton 22nd.
Jaguars (5): Kuharsky 20th, Sando 25th.
Titans (5): Sando 20th, Kuharsky and Chadiha 25th.
Lions (5): Kuharsky 27th, Clayton 32nd.
Power rankings histories: Check out these colorful layered graphs showing where each NFL team has ranked every week since the 2002 season.
Ranking the divisions: Teams from the AFC North maintained their status as the highest-rated division on average after the Steelers and Bengals won impressively. 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 9 rankings:
Sando: Bears (-7), Packers (-5), 49ers (-4), Panthers (+4), Cardinals (+5)
Clayton: Texans (+5), Chargers (+5), Titans (+5)
Kuharsky: Packers (-5), Cardinals (+5), Chargers (+5)
Chadiha: Eagles (-4), Cardinals (+4)
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.