NFL Power Rankings 5: Denver keep delivering to top brand new charts
Last Updated: October 15, 2013 8:17am
Peyton and Co: driving the Broncos onwards and upwards...
Power Rankings are the new buzz-words in American Football, so our View From America columnist Simon Veness has come up with his own take on this essential weekly phenomenon.
Simon has pioneered a version of the 1-32 system and adapted it for British fans, using a four-tier 'division' system, where teams can be promoted or relegated each week according to their performance. Each division reflects whether a team has Champion potential, is genuinely Premier League, is only at Championship level - or is down among the Conference no-hopers.
There's no real argument about the top three, but then things get a bit murky with three one-loss teams and two with two defeats to their name in the top division. The next level down isn't exactly a hot-bed of potential either...
Champions League (the Super Bowl Contenders)
1. Denver - If they get any better, the Broncos will be in a league all on their own. Averaging 46pts per game, you get the feeling that if the defence is struggling - as it was at Dallas - Manning and Co will just score whatever is needed to win.
2. New Orleans - Do you think the Cowboys might like defensive coordinator Rob Ryan back? After he was canned by Jerry Jones, all Ryan has done is take the worst defence in the league and turn them into the third best, giving up just 14.6pts per game. Oh, and the Saints still have Drew Brees.
3. Kansas City - This is THE best 'D' in the league and a team that has already won three more games than the whole of last season, in a division that is collectively 14-6. Do you think fans are already looking ahead to Weeks 11 and 13, against Denver?
4. Seattle - One narrow defeat at feisty Indy isn't enough to relegate the NFC's second-best team in my book. They are not the same dominating force away from the ear-shattering confines of CenturyLink Field, though.
5. New England - In Gronk they trust. But can the Patriots get Rob Gronkowski back in the line-up before Tom Brady runs out of receivers completely? With the current band of waifs and strays, Brady's QB rating was 52.2 at Cincy - his worst since Week 14 in 2006.
6. Indianapolis - The fastest-rising team in the rankings and, but for a last-minute loss to Miami in Week Two, when Andrew Luck surprisingly failed to pull off his usual fourth-quarter comeback, they'd be sitting pretty at 5-0.
7. San Francisco - Defeats? What defeats? The 49ers have already put those Week Two and Three aberrations firmly in the rear view mirror and are looking forward to bringing Patrick Willis, Nnamdi Asomugha and, perhaps, Aldon Smith, back to the defensive grinder that just made mincemeat of Houston.
8. Green Bay - This is still a team that can out-score most and, when they play defence like they did in halting the Lions on Sunday, they are good enough to hang with the best. Especially, NFC take note, when they also pile up 180 yards on the ground
Premier League (the Play-Off Hopefuls)
9. Baltimore - If Miami on the road were a decent test, then the Ravens passed it with a solid B+. The Invisible Man, aka Ray Rice, was finally back in evidence in South Florida and the whole team benefited.
10. Cincinnati - If that was supposed to be a depleted secondary against the Patriots, no-one told Cincy's defence as they prevented a Tom Brady touchdown pass for the first time in 53 games. The AFC North is not the juggernaut it was, but the Bengals are firmly in the mix.
11. Tennessee - Losing Jake Locker JUST when he looked to be poised for a major breakthrough could be truly tragic for the Titans. With Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, they were equal parts Jekyll and Hyde, and that's a horror story in the making unless Chris Johnson starts looking more like CJ2K and less like CJ from the Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin.
12. Miami - Here's another Rudyard Kipling story (that's 'If' to those who can remember their A-Level English Lit); if the Dolphins can just keep Ryan Tannehill in one piece - as opposed to getting him sacked a league-leading 24 times so far - they can turn close games like Sunday's 26-23 heart-breaker at home to Baltimore into 'W's.
13. NY Jets - Geno Smith showed why Rex Ryan thought he was a worthy starter this season as he played a sharp and savvy game at Atlanta to engineer the last-second win, and there is clearly plenty of life left in the old dog himself (that's Rex, for anyone not paying attention to canine-inspired puns).
14. Cleveland - Locker at Tennessee, EJ Manuel at Buffalo and now Brian Hoyer in Brownsville; that's a prile of young QBs struck down just when things were getting interesting. We already know what Brandon Weeden can do and it doesn't usually end well.
15. Detroit - Can they really be a one-man team? Take Calvin Johnson out of the line-up and suddenly the Lions look like Megatron without the Allspark, i.e. lacking the sparkplug to be a seriously formidable robot dude, er, team.
16. Chicago - It's crunch time for the Bears. The 26-18 home defeat by the Saints (and it was never that close) exposed all kinds of deficiencies that Marc Trestman has to address before a Thursday night trip to the woeful Giants. Anything less than a dominating win will get them relegated in these rankings.
Championship (just battling to get better)
17. Houston - Little more than 17 days ago, the Texans were 2-0 and shaping up as a major AFC force. But then came SIX interceptions, FOUR fumbles, THREE interceptions returned for scores, TWO defeats after taking the lead and ONE complete meltdown at San Francisco. And, suddenly, one of the pre-season favourites is THIS close to a total shambles.
18. Arizona - Carson Palmer called his team's defensive performance in the 22-6 bushwhacking of Carolina "phenomenal, lights out, and not surprising whatsoever." It's not known what the defence said of their quarterback's latest multiple INT display, however.
19. Dallas - Moral victory (noun); how your ownership describes yet another defeat when you had the chance to take charge of your division, win one of the great games in recent history, put a major dent in the Legend of Manning - and completely fail on all three counts.
20. Philadelphia - The Eagles had seen a 19-7 lead dissolve into a 21-19 deficit before The Manning That Is Not Peyton tossed three straight INTs to doom his team and usher Nick Foles to a comfortable victory. A trip to Tampa will show if Foles is capable of doing things for himself.
21. Oakland - Terrelle Pryor's 135.7 passer rating in the 27-17 defeat of San Diego was the best by a Raiders quarterback since Rich Gannon in September 2002. Do that at Kansas City on Sunday and this is a team heading for promotion in our rankings.
22. Atlanta - The Falcons' red-zone struggles returned to haunt them big-time in the loss to the Jets as coach Mike Smith passed up on a chip-shot field goal at the end of the first half to try a fourth-down run that got nothing. And ended up losing by two. How many times do you think that call will be second-guessed this week? The NFC's No. 1 seed from 2012 have already lost more games than in the whole of last year.
23. San Diego - Every year, for a few weeks, a mirage appears in southern California with the siren lure of a winning team. Then some totally unlikely outfit takes them behind the woodshed and beats the snot out of them. Multiple INTs will do that for you.
24. Buffalo - in The Battle of Wounded Knees (both starting QBs went down with serious knee injuries), the Bills allowed themselves to be out-played by Brandon Weeden, and all the promise of the shock victory over Baltimore is in danger of evaporating.
Conference (Down Among The Dead Men)
25. Carolina - Cam Newton actually had more tackles (2) than starting defensive end Charles Johnson (1) but that was about as good as it got for the Panthers quarterback in a nightmare outing of INTs, fumbles and sacks at Arizona. The whisper of the dreaded word 'Bust!' is drifting faintly but insistently in the Charlotte air.
26. Washington - the FBI currently has an APB out for the Redskins, as this is clearly not the team that we saw for much of last season. And it's not all RGIII's fault, either. The defence has given up 112 points in four outings - and a stunning 440.5 yards per GAME, easily the worst in the league.
27. St Louis - Yes, they won on Sunday, but it was only the Jags and, while they actually beat the 12-point spread, for much of the game you wondered which was the 0-4 team. And, with their schedule, they could struggle to win another game this season.
28. Minnesota - Matt Cassell was the one-week wonder at Wembley but it looks like Christian Ponder will be back for the visit of Carolina this Sunday and, in quarterback terms, that's a case of the Very Movable Object v The Totally Resistible Force. Whoever loses is likely to be condemned to this level for the rest of the year.
29. Pittsburgh - Big Ben Roethlisberger wasn't the answer at Wembley but Le'Veon Bell showed he might be (Big Ben; Bell; geddit?). Because if the Steelers don't get some kind of consistent running game going, their season is officially toast.
30. NY Giants - The Manning That Is Not Peyton has now thrown a dizzying 12 INTs so far this season and, while the G-Men have more problems than just the QB, there are some mystifying decisions being made by a player with two Super Bowl rings to his name.
31. Tampa - Greg Schiano better have broad shoulders for the next few weeks because, after the way he ran Josh Freeman out of town and made it clear he was calling ALL the shots, he will need to carry a heavy load of responsibility for his winless team.
32. Jacksonville - sorry, London, but if this is 'your' team for the next four years you need to ask for a recall.