THE POINT: To rank each of the NFL’s 32 teams based on performance, perception and potential rather than merely by record.
THE PANEL: Our 10-man committee consists of:
Joe Bendel, 970 ESPN, Steelers Radio Network; Tim Benz, 105.9 The X, Steelers Radio Network; Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 970 ESPN, Steelers Radio Network; Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News; Jeff Legwold, Denver Post; Cole Pepper, Studio Host Jaguars Radio Network; Mike Prisuta, WDVE, 970 ESPN, Steelers Radio Network; Jon Saraceno, USA Today; David Todd, 970 ESPN, Steelers Nation Radio; Matt Williamson, ESPN.com.
THE PROCESS: Each panelist ranks the teams from No. 1 to No. 32. Teams receive one point for their spot in the rankings (the No. 15 team gets 15 points, etc.). An aggregate score is compiled from the 10 ballots and the teams are stacked in reverse order, with the lowest score achieving the No. 1 ranking and the highest score checking in at No. 32.
THIS WEEK’S POLL: The Houston Texans, fresh off a 43-13 thumping of Baltimore, are back on top for the third time in four weeks.
If you have any doubt as to the Texans’ legitimacy, ask Legwold.
Or, as Legwold put it, “ask the Ravens.”
The Falcons actually got more first-place votes than the Texans (4-2). The New York Football Giants (2) and Green Bay Packers (2) also received first-place recognition.
It’s been that insane of a season.
And that difficult for the panel to reach any sort of consensus.
Along those lines, the New Orleans Saints were ranked as high as No. 11 (Saraceno) and as low as No. 29 (Legwold) this week.
There were also ties at No. 8 (Minnesota and Baltimore), No. 20 (the New York Jets and New Orleans) and No. 29 (Cleveland and Carolina).
THE STEELERS’ STATUS: Pittsburgh climbed to No. 12 following its 24-17 win in Cincinnati, after having checked in at No. 15, No. 13 and No. 14 in the first three polls.
POSITION-TEAM (FIRST-PLACE VOTES)-POINTS
No. 1-Houston Texans (2)-21
No. 2-Atlanta Falcons (4)-25
No. 3-New York Football Giants (2)-36
No. 4-San Francisco 49ers-41
No. 5-Chicago Bears-49
No. 6-Green Bay Packers (2)-56
No. 7-New England Patriots-77
No. 8-Minnesota Vikings-84
No. 10-Denver Broncos-109
No. 11-Seattle Seahawks-114
No. 12-PITTSBURGH STEELERS-124
No. 13-Philadelphia Eagles-140
No. 14-Arizona Cardinals-148
No. 15-Washington Redskins-157
No. 16-San Diego Chargers-160
No. 17-Dallas Cowboys-174
No. 18-Miami Dolphins-192
No. 19-Cincinnati Bengals-193
No. 20-New York Jets-203
-New Orleans Saints-203
No. 22-St. Louis Rams-209
No. 23-Detroit Lions-216
No. 24-Indianapolis Colts-233
No. 25-Buffalo Bills-234
No. 26-Tampa Bay Buccaneers-253
No. 27-Tennessee Titans-258
No. 28-Oakland Raiders-277
No. 29-Cleveland Browns-292
No. 31-Kansas City Chiefs-313
No. 32-Jacksonville Jaguars-314