Power rankings revisited: Week 9

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

First the Rams and now the Bucs have claimed victory in successive weeks as the lowest-rated team in NFL Power Rankings on ESPN.com.

Tampa Bay's upset victory over 12th-rated Green Bay could leave idle Cleveland as the 32nd-rated team when the Week 10 power rankings appear Tuesday. The Browns will, of course, be heavy underdogs at home against Baltimore.

None of the eight highest-ranked teams lost Sunday, although one of them will when No. 7 Pittsburgh visits No. 4 Denver on "Monday Night Football."

The chart shows how ESPN.com panelists voted last week. My votes appear in the first column, followed by votes from colleagues John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Jeff Chadiha. Red lettering identifies teams that lost in Week 9.

And now, the power rankings revisited ...

The reckoning: Three games featured lower-ranked teams defeating higher-ranked teams:

  • (32) Tampa Bay 38, (12) Green Bay (28). What a horrible defeat for the team I laughably thought would contend for the Super Bowl this season. The Packers' line is far worse than imagined.

  • (26) Tennessee 34, (19) San Francisco 27. No playoff talk from Mike Singletary after this latest defeat.

  • (16) San Diego 21, (15) New York Giants 20. The bye week rescues the Giants from themselves.

Still to play: (7) Pittsburgh at (4) Denver on "Monday Night Football."

Reality checks: Count the 49ers and Seahawks among teams that now must admit the obvious. They are not very good. No snickering, Packers and Giants. You're a couple of defeats from joining the list.

Rising in defeat: The Panthers played the Saints tough on the road. At first glance, I could justify moving them up even in defeat. Same goes for the Texans after they gave Indianapolis a scare.

Northbound in a hurry: Dallas, Tennessee. The Cowboys are much better when unburdened by expectations. An even keel has served them well to this point. Can they keep success in perspective?

My early favorite for the No. 1 spot: New Orleans. The Colts are also worthy. I'm sticking with New Orleans for at least another week.