The NFC "Beast" has finally been put out of its misery in the ESPN.com Power Rankings. For some reason, our esteemed panel really stuck it to the Washington Redskins following their 17-14 loss to a 10-win Giants team. The Skins fell five spots in the rankings, which was the biggest drop of any team in the league.
NFC West blogger Mike Sando, keeper of the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, has bravely pulled back the curtain on the mysterious voting process. The panel moved the Dallas Cowboys up four spots following their last-minute win over the Eagles' junior varsity squad Sunday. Let's try to figure out how this happened and whether any of the panelists will be retained for next season's Power Rankings:
7. Philadelphia Eagles: Three of the voters agreed that the Eagles should stay put after resting their starters in a loss to the Jason Garrett-led Cowboys. AFC North blogger James Walker was the only voter who had the New York Jets ahead of the Eagles and I'm told he was chastised in a private setting by John "The Professor" Clayton.
12. New York Giants: Paul Kuharsky of AFC South fame loved Tom Coughlin's team from the start, and even in the Giants' darkest moment, he remained by their side with a "10" on his ballot. Walker once again rained on the Beast's parade with a "13" vote. He had the Bucs ahead of the Giants.
18. Dallas Cowboys: This was a stunner. The Cowboys' starters nearly lost to an Eagles team that was comprised of mostly practice squad players -- yet the panelists fell in love with Stephen McGee's late comeback and prolonged eye contact with reporters. Kuharsky and Walker both had the Cowboys at "19." I'm not sure what happened in this instance. The Cowboys and Redskins finished with the same record (6-10), but the panelists absolutely killed Mike Shanahan's team.
26. Washington Redskins: The Skins actually stood up and played for Shanahan down the stretch, so I'm not sure why the voters reacted so harshly to a narrow loss to a pretty good Giants team. Don't they know the Skins never beat the Giants? Kuharsky had both the Browns and Bills ahead of the Skins on his ballot. He gave the Redskins a shocking "28," which prevented Clayton and Walker from saving them with "25" votes on their respective ballots.
The Beast finished fifth in the overall division rankings with an average score of 16.2. The NFC North claimed fourth place with a 16.2. This is a painful, painful day for so many of us who've devoted our lives to this once-proud division. Thanks for your continued support during these difficult days ahead.