Power Rankings: Colts' second loss causes reshuffling
Thanks to the Colts' second consecutive loss, our Power Rankings voters faced one of their biggest questions of the season this week: Where do you rank the defending champs? Should they stay at No. 2 because, when healthy, they probably are the second-best team in the league behind the Patriots? Or do you drop them behind the single-loss teams, the Cowboys and Packers?
In the end, equal weight seemed to be given to both records and perceptions. The 7-2 Colts slipped to No. 3 behind the 8-1 Cowboys but ahead of the 8-1 Packers.
Still, the decision wasn't an easy one for the voters. In fact, the Colts received two second-place votes, three third-place votes, two fourth-place votes and even a fifth-place vote (behind the Steelers, who are also 7-2). The Cowboys received six second-place votes and were third on the other two ballots.
"When healthy, the Colts might be the best team in the league, and the fact they they played two quality teams to such close outcomes, while so short-handed, is admirable," said senior writer Len Pasquarelli. "But the Power Rankings are a weekly read, in flux based on how the team is performing at that particular time. And the Colts are hurting right now while Dallas is surging."
Indeed, Hashmarks blogger Matt Mosley thinks the Cowboys would "win the head-to-head matchup right now" against the Colts. In fact, he even considered moving the Packers ahead of the Colts but "lost my nerve when I considered their schedule."
Senior writer John Clayton did move the Packers ahead of the Colts, although he suggested it might be on a "temporary" basis depending on how quickly the Colts can heal.
Scouts Inc.'s Jeremy Green dropped the Colts to No. 5 because of the injuries -- and also because "that was a bad loss in San Diego and you wonder where this team is mentally right now."
But senior writer Jeffri Chadiha kept Indy in the second spot because "even without a handful of banged-up starters ... they're good enough to beat the Cowboys head-to-head."
Unless those teams meet in the Super Bowl, of course, we'll never find out this season. But don't be surprised if the Colts find their way back to No. 2 at some point. Skepticism remains over whether the Cowboys and Packers are truly "elite" teams, while the Colts are a proven commodity.
"I still favor the Colts over the long haul based on Peyton Manning's experience," Mike Sando said, "but only if Marvin Harrison and a few others find their way out of the training room."
So where would you rank the Colts and the other 31 teams in the league after Week 10? Click here to access SportsNation's ranking tool.
BIGGEST RISE: Denver Broncos from 25th to 18th. BIGGEST DROP: Baltimore Ravens from 17 to 24th.
(Editor's note: LW indicates each team's ranking last week.)