So the Broncos took care of business against the Raiders. They torched a team missing both starting cornerbacks through the air and gashed a team without much starter level talent at linebacker on the ground. The defense made big plays, with Von “the Don” Miller making many offers Carson Palmer could not refuse, with partner in crime Elvis Dumervil firmly in tow. McGahee offered his usually mix of effective running without much excitement or explosion, and Peyton has proved he will show enough flashes of brilliance to induce an epileptic seizure.
However, the Broncos beating the tar out of a team whose main bragging rights consist of having good kickers and a great makeup crew for their fans does not tell us a whole lot about this team. Where do the Broncos stand in the NFL? 4 weeks in, a quarter of the season in the books, it is time to rank the top 15 teams in the NFL.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Yes, they are 3-1. But look at their schedule: they won at Green Bay, home against the Lions, lost at Minnesota (who is 3-1) and demolished the Jets in New York. They play fantastic defense, avoid mistake on offense, and should cruise to 12-14 wins.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Explosive offense and gritty defense that can win any style of game. If they can get an early lead with the passing game, Turner and the defense can finish. Oh and by the way: Matt Ryan is on pace over 4600 yards, 44 touchdowns and 8 picks. So they got that going for them.
3. Houston Texans
Their only flaw thus far is they have had a pretty easy schedule, but boy have they responded. Outscoring opponents 126-56, they have a big test against the Jets. if they cannot grab a lead early and let Foster and Tate finish the game, can they put teams away?
4. New England
New England stands right now at an incredibly unimpressive 2-2 (losing to two 3-1 teams), yet this has the makings of the best team in football. We know they can pass, and that should only get better when Aaron Hernandez gets back. But if they can run with Ridley and Bolden, and play defense? Uh-Oh.
This feels like the same Ravens team we see every year. Strong defense, an offense that claims “this is the year”, and lots of people giving them big pats on the back. The defense will eventually show its age in the form of the injury bug, they lack a pass rush and are relying on Joe Flacco to carry the offense, which is like asking Rob Schneider to carry a comedy. Sure, Deuce Bigalow will make you chuckle, but you will leave the theater wishing Adam Sandler would just put this guy down already.
6. Arizona Cardinals
They are 4-0, with three wins against quality opponents (New England, Philly and Seattle). However, you do need to play offense to win games, and this team is dreadful on that side of the ball. When the fate of your season may come down to Kevin Kolb driving down the field, I am going to be a bit pessimistic. Having said that, 12 months ago if you sub Cardinals for 49ers and Kolb for Alex Smith, and this would read exactly the same…
7. Philadelphia Eagles
You know about the turnovers, Andy Reid kinda sorta saying Vick might get benched, and the consistently erratic play, yet despite all of that they are 3-1. Probably the most balanced team in the NFL, they are some smart QB play away from jumping 5 or 6 spots.
8. Green Bay Packers
The defense looks better this year, the offense looks considerably worse. Granted, they have gone up against three of the best defenses in football so far, but they just are not clicking like they did last year. If Greg Jennings can stay healthy and the line can give Rodgers time, they should be just fine.
9. Chicago Bears
This team is nasty. Nasty on defense, nasty to watch on offense. I know Jay Cutler just had a great night against the Cowboys, but he is not a great Quarterback. His highest QB rating came in his rookie year (88.5), and he generally makes decisions that can only be described as Grossman-esque. They will struggle against great teams and beat up on bad teams.
10. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are basically copying Jim Harbaugh’s strategy from last year. Diesel running game. All Day. Incredible returner/special teams. See Harvin, Percy. Defense that can get after the QB and stop the run. Jared Allen will hunt me down and murder me if I say no. Quick, athletic quarterback who runs a great play-action. Let me think, or better yet, let me Ponder. They may not be as talented on defense as the 49ers, but they are doing a good impression.
11. San Diego Chargers
They have a fast and physical front seven that will be very difficult to run against, and an offense that always can put up points. If Ryan Mathews could only stay healthy this team could be dangerous. Also, if I could only increase my vertical by 30 inches, grow half a foot, become really really fast and develop great hands I could be a Wide Receiver in the NFL. I don’t think either will happen any time soon.
12. New York Giants
There line is not very good. Gone are the days of the Giants being a hard nosed football team that won with a power rushing attack and a strong defense. They are a finesse team that hopes to outscore teams, then unleash the hounds (Tuck, JPP and Osi). This is a team that will play well against teams with a strong passing attack and will struggle against defense-first teams.
13. Denver Broncos
Only losses are to the teams ranked 2 and 3. They have an aggressive defense that will only get better with experience. If Manning can manage the game effectively, knowing when to be aggressive and when to take what the defense is giving him, this team can be a contender. Given the fact that this is Peyton Manning we are talking about, this team will be contender.
14. Seattle Seahawks
They have the best secondary in football. By far. What was obscured Monday night in the way the game ended against the Packers was how dominant Kam Chancellor and company were against one of the better crops of receivers in the league. They all hit, can cover, and hit some more. Combine that with a steady pass rush, you get the makings of a dominant defense. The offense, well, the offense is terrible.
15. Cincinnati Bengals
Boy is this team fun to watch on offense. A.J. Green looks like the second coming of Randy Moss, Andrew Hawkins is dynamic with the football and Armon Binns shows flashes of dominance. The defense has been bad, but they are young and played really well last year. If they can get a pass rush, look out.
About the Author
Written by Brandon Keller