Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Saints moved up one spot on John Clayton's ballot to force a first-place tie in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings for Week 8.
What to do?
We gave the tiebreaker to Indianapolis as the incumbent top team, but the Colts' margin for error could not be slimmer.
I nearly moved the Saints into the top spot on my ballot and it could happen next week even if both teams win. New Orleans could conceivably overtake the Colts with a dominant performance against the Falcons in Week 8.
It's that close.
The chart shows my votes in column one, with votes from Clayton, Paul Kuharsky and Jeffri Chadiha thereafter.
Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. filled in for Kuharsky last week. The change back to Kuharsky altered the rankings.
Kuharsky ranked the Redskins five places higher and the Texans six spots lower than Williamson ranked those teams a week ago, for example.
Kuharsky also ranked the Chargers five places lower than Williamson ranked them a week earlier, explaining how San Diego fell in the rankings despite a 37-7 victory over the Chiefs.
A look inside the rankings ...
Rising: The Cowboys jumped 10 spots and the Cardinals jumped six, easily the largest gains from Week 7. The Bengals and Jets each rose three spots. The Bills and Redskins rose two apiece. The Broncos, Patriots, Steelers, Dolphins and Titans rose one spot.
Falling: The Bears dropped eight spots, the largest one-week fall. The 49ers fell five spots. The Falcons dropped four. The Ravens and Giants fell three places each. The Raiders, Panthers and Chargers dropped two places. The Browns and Vikings each fell one spot.
Unchanged: Rankings for the Colts, Saints, Eagles, Packers, Texans, Jaguars, Seahawks, Lions, Chiefs, Bucs and Rams remained unchanged.
Deadlocked: We broke one tie this week. The Colts prevailed over the Saints for the top spot because they were the incumbent No. 1 team.
Groupthink: Three panelists voted the Broncos third, the Vikings fourth, the Patriots sixth and the Rams 32nd.
Agree to disagree: The Jets generated the widest gap between highest and lowest votes -- eight spots -- following their victory over the Raiders. Eight other teams generated disparities of at least five spots:
Jets (8): Kuharsky ranked them ninth, higher than any other voted ranked them. Sando and Chadiha ranked them 17th, lower than any other voter ranked them.
49ers (7): Kuharsky 16th, Clayton 23rd.
Cardinals (6): Sando eighth, Chadiha 14th.
Eagles (6): Chadiha eighth, Kuharsky 14th.
Raiders (6): Clayton 25th, Kuharsky 31st.
Packers (5): Chadiha 10th, Sando 15th.
Chargers (5): Sando 14th, Kuharsky 19th.
Texans (5): Chadiha 15th, Clayton 20th.
Bears (5): Sando 16th, Kuharsky 21st.
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 NFC East reclaimed their place as the highest-rated division on average, edging the AFC North. 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 6 rankings:
Sando: Cowboys (+10), Cardinals (+7), Steelers (+4), Redskins (+4), Bears (-4), Packers (-4), Giants (-4), Falcons (-5)
Clayton: Cardinals (+6), Cowboys (+6), Falcons (-4), Bears (-7), 49ers (-7)
Kuharsky: Matt Williamson voted in his place last week
Chadiha: Cardinals (+4), Cowboys (+4), Texans (+4), Giants (-4), 49ers (-4), Falcons (-5), Bears (-7)
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.