NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Mile-high rise for Broncos

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) scores a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Denver. (Joe Mahoney/AP)

Little more than two weeks ago the Denver Broncos‘ obituary had already been written dozens of times. They had passed their prime, they had no quarterback play, the tough AFC West was going to eat them alive.

Today? Not so much.

The Broncos held Ezekiel Elliott to his first sub-80-yard game in over a year Sunday night and put up 42 points on the Dallas Cowboys’ D, more than earning a big correction in our panel’s weekly power rankings, as you’ll see below.

This week, the panel includes editors Geoff Lowe and Craig Battle, and staff writers Donnovan Bennett and Mike Johnston.

Rank Team
1

Another week, another quality win for the Chiefs, who are now 25-3 in the regular season since Oct. 25, 2015. (CB)
2017 record: 2-0

Previous: 1

2

Sure, one of their wins was against the Jets, but the Raiders have the most points (71) and the fewest points allowed (36) of the AFC West’s three 2-0 teams. (CB)
2017 record: 2-0

Previous: 3

3

Vic Beasley is out for a month with a hamstring injury, which hurts the pass rush, but with the offence looking as smooth as it did against the Packers there is zero reason to worry. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-0

Previous: 4

4

Tom Brady’s 447 passing yards vs. New Orleans was the third-most he’s thrown in a regular-season game, putting to rest any doubt remaining about his tough first game. (GL)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 5

5

The Steelers haven’t been sharp to start the season and they’ve had double-digit penalties in each of their first two games. But they’re 2-0 and ultimately that is all that matters. (DB)
2017 record: 2-0

Previous: 6

6

One of the biggest surprises of the early season. The Broncos’ supposedly too-old defence stymied Dak and Zeke on Sunday night, and Trevor Siemian looks like anything but a placeholder at QB. (CB)
2017 record: 2-0

Previous: 16

7

The Lions are 2-0 to start a season for the first time since 2011 after their Monday win over the Giants and rank as the most surprising division leader in the NFL. (DB)
2017 record: 2-0

Previous: 8

8

A double-digit loss shows Green Bay isn’t in the Atlanta Falcons’ class yet. It will be tough to be anytime soon as their Week 2 loss left them decimated with injuries. (DB)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 2

9

The Seahawks have scored 21 points through two weeks, but we’ve read this novel before. This is the fourth straight season they’ve looked shaky out of the gate, and in each of the previous three they came back to make at least one playoff game. (CB)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 9

10

For the first time in franchise history the Ravens defence had four interceptions and five interceptions in back-to-back games. They Ravens are back to playing championship defence. (DB)
2017 record: 2-0

Previous: 15

11

A delayed season opener did the Bucs wonders. The offence still has some kinks to work out, although the Jameis Winston to Mike Evans connection remains potent. The defence had a field day, forcing four turnovers. (MJ)
2017 record: 1-0

Previous: 12

12

After praising the Cowboys defence in this space last week, the now injury-plagued unit was exposed in Denver in the worst Dallas performance we’ve seen in the Prescott-Elliott era. (GL)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 7

13

They struggled early against the Jags, but eventually found their rhythm, scoring 31 second-half points. Derrick Henry had a big day, averaging 6.6 yards per carry and getting into the end zone. (MJ)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 13

14

The defensive front was dominant again while Carson Wentz handled himself well despite constant pressure from the Chiefs. The Eagles’ biggest weakness through two weeks? The run game. (GL)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 10

15

Greg Olsen will miss most of the 2017 season as he broke his foot. This puts more pressure on Cam Newton and an offence that only managed three field goals and nothing else against the Bills. (MJ)
2017 record: 2-0

Previous: 14

16

Washington bounced back nicely on the road after a messy Week 1 loss, using an eye-opening run game and a mistake-free effort from Kirk Cousins. (GL)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 17

17

Considering the Dolphins got their season started a week late, Sunday’s tight win on the road was impressive. Jay Cutler was effective and the defence got big stops when it needed them. (GL)
2017 record: 1-0

Previous: 18

18

Sam Bradford is out with yet another injury, this time a knee bone bruise. Case Keenum is just a stop-gap so their hopes to keep pace in the AFC North rests on Bradford’s rehab. (DB)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 19

19

Odell Beckham’s return did little to help the Giants’ scoring woes as the offensive line struggled protecting Eli Manning and the run game remained non-existent. (GL)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 11

20

Two losses to two good teams by a total of five points. This year’s Chargers team is picking up exactly where last year’s historically unlucky team left off. (CB)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 21

21

The good news is that the Bills held Carolina to just 13 points and sacked Cam Newton six times. The bad? The offence was uninspired, totalling just 176 yards on Sunday. (GL)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 22

22

A win’s a win, but needing a fourth-quarter comeback and OT to beat the Colts is hardly a statement game. The Cowboys will provide a much stiffer test on Monday night. (CB)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 20

23

The Rams are far pluckier than expected under new coach Sean McVay. They came back from a 13-point first-half deficit to tie things at 20 midway through the fourth quarter despite Washington’s huge day on the ground. (CB)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 23

24

After being embarrassed at home by the Jags in Week 1, Deshaun Watson showed glimpses of the dynamic college star he was. Still plenty of reasons to worry about the offence. (MJ)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 26

25

They need to lean heavy on Leonard Fournette, but that will be increasingly difficult when if the Jags can’t threaten with anything through the air. (MJ)
2017 record: 1-1

Previous: 24

26

They allowed three first-quarter touchdowns against the Pats and were never in the game. Not much to learn from this one. (MJ)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 25

27

Andy Dalton has thrown four interceptions and zero touchdowns in their first two losses while getting sacked eight times. Being a bad team with a bad QB and no succession plan is the equivalent of NFL hell. The Colin Kaepernick rumours have begun. (DB)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 27

28

Mike Glennon threw a pick-six and gave up a strip sack while Chicago’s Week 2 game versus Tampa Bay was still within reach. Then he padded his stats when it was out of reach. John Fox says the team is sticking with Glennon, but the case for Mitch Trubisky is building. (DB)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 28

29

The Browns open as favourites on the road — this week versus the Colts — for the first time since 2013. That shows the team that has won just twice in 21 games is winning over some respect. (DB)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 29

30

Week 2 provided a shot of hope for the 49ers as they came within eight minutes of dropping the Seahawks to 0-2. The defence didn’t give up a TD until the fourth quarter, which they’ll build on going forward. That said, the offence may be the NFL’s worst. (CB)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 31

31

They blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead before an unfortunate overtime interception by newly-acquired QB Jacoby Brissett sealed their fate against the Cardinals. Week 3 against the Browns will be a litmus test to determine whether they are true bottom-feeders or not. (MJ)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 30

32

The Jets kept it close for most of the first half but were blown out in the last two quarters, a likely sign of what’s to come all season long. (GL)
2017 record: 0-2

Previous: 32