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: Atlanta has taken over the top spot, but the Falcons’ No. 1 ranking is far from unanimous. The 10-man panel also offered up first-place votes for the New York Football Giants, Green Bay and Chicago.

There was also movement at the bottom, as the Cleveland Browns escaped last place and checked in this week at No. 30 in the wake of their first victory of the season.

The Steelers fell back a spot from No. 15 to No. 14 after losing at Tennessee.

Even the last-place team, Kansas City, wasn’t designated as that unanimously. Jacksonville (5) actually received more last-place votes than Kansas City (3) and Cleveland (2) also received worst-in-the-league recognition.

POSITION-TEAM (FIRST-PLACE VOTES)-POINTS
No. 1-Atlanta Falcons (7)-19
No. 2-New York Football Giants (1)-29
No. 3-Houston Texans-34
No. 4-San Francisco 49ers-37
No. 5-Chicago Bears (1)-53
No. 6-Baltimore Ravens-58
No. 7-Green Bay Packers (1)-70
No. 8-New England Patriots-75
No. 9-Seattle Seahawks-97
No. 10-Denver Broncos-111
No. 11-Minnesota Vikings-120
No. 12-Arizona Cardinals-122
No. 13-Philadelphia Eagles-138
No. 14-PITTSBURGH STEELERS-148
No. 15-San Diego Chargers-156
No. 16-Cincinnati Bengals-161
No. 17-Washington Redskins-164
No. 18-Detroit Lions-188
No. 19-Dallas Cowboys-189
No. 21-Miami Dolphins-219
No. 22-New York Jets-211
No. 23-New Orleans Saints-213
No. 24-Buffalo Bills-232
No. 25-Tampa Bay Buccaneers-247
No. 26-Indianapolis Colts-265
No. 27-Carolina Panthers-271
No. 28-Tennessee Titans-275
No. 29-Oakland Raiders-285
No. 30-Cleveland Browns-289
No. 31-Jacksonville Jaguars-310
No. 32-Kansas City Chiefs-313