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NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Can the Broncos upset a Super Bowl Contender?

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The “easy” part of Denver Broncos schedule is in the rearview. Welcome to the meat grinder.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Can the Broncos shock Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Lambeau?
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With the dust settling on week 2 we’re already 1/8th of the way through the NFL calendar. Crazy, I know. It’s still early enough for things to change pretty wildly, but there’s definitely a few trends that look like they’re going to stick around.

So there will be a little less movement than last week. Before you send me a nasty meme or grab your pitchfork, try to remember that I base the rankings off how I see each team’s chances at the Super Bowl this year.

So the Saints losing to Los Angeles isn’t anywhere near as concerning for me as the fact that Drew Brees injured his hand. The Steelers aren’t dropping because of their loss to a non-conference foe so much as Ben Roethlisberger’s injury and the other issues cropping up.

Let’s dive in:

NFL Power Rankings

Tank for Tua, or suck for the Duck?

32. Miami Dolphins (0-2)

With the Phish are having a fire sale, Elway should inquire about linebacker Jerome Baker.

31. New York Giants (0-2)

The G-men aren’t relevant until Daniel Jones steps into the starting lineup. Even then, they’re basically the FCS school all of the SEC teams beat up on before they get serious.

30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)

If he hasn’t been scooped up, grab John Ross for your fantasy team.

If he isn’t available, check if A.J. Green is for some reason.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)

Just imagine the week 3 Gardner Minshew stories if Doug Marrone hadn’t wasted his 2-point play running the ball on Sunday.

28. Washington (0-2)

Keep this in mind the next time someone cites conventional stats:

Case Keenum: 56/81 601 yards and 5 touchdowns, zero interceptions, two sacks.

Joe Flacco: 56/81 560 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, five sacks.

27. New York Jets (0-2)

26. Denver Broncos (0-2

This looks harsh ‘til you take a peek at the Broncos 2019 schedule:

Broncos 2019 regular season schedule

Wk Date Opponent Time (MT) TV Score Record
Wk Date Opponent Time (MT) TV Score Record
1 Sep 9 at Raiders (MNF) 8:20 PM ESPN 24-16 L 0-1
2 Sep 15 vs Bears 2:25 PM FOX 16-14 L 0-2
3 Sep 22 at Packers 11:00 AM FOX 27-16 L 0-3
4 Sep 29 vs Jaguars 2:25 PM CBS 26-24 L 0-4
5 Oct. 6 at Chargers 2:05 PM CBS 20-13 W 1-4
6 Oct 13 vs Titans 2:25 PM CBS 16-0 W 2-4
7 Oct 17 vs Chiefs (TNF) 6:20 PM NFLN 30-6 L 2-5
8 Oct 27 at Colts 11:00 AM CBS 15-13 L 2-6
9 Nov 3 vs Browns 2:25 PM CBS 24-19 W 3-6
10 Nov 10 BYE
11 Nov 17 at Vikings 11:00 AM CBS 27-23 L 3-7
12 Nov 24 at Bills 11:00 AM CBS 20-3 L 3-8
13 Dec 1 vs Chargers 2:25 PM CBS 23-20 W 4-8
14 Dec 8 at Texans 11:00 AM CBS 38-24 W 5-8
15 Dec 15 at Chiefs 11:00 AM CBS 23-3 L 5-9
16 Dec 22 vs Lions 2:05 PM CBS 27-17 W 6-9
17 Dec 29 vs Raiders 2:25 PM CBS 16-15 W 7-9

The Pretenders

25. Oakland Raiders (1-1)

Bigger than the outcome is how hapless they looked down the stretch. Take a look at Gruden’s O after the Derek Carr touchdown created a 10-3 lead in the first quarter:

Punt

Punt

Punt

Punt

End of Half

Interception

Interception

Punt

Punt

24. Buffalo Bills (2-0)

Turns out the Bills are the best team in New York. That’s worth something, right?

23. Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)

Probably the most entertaining bad team. Kliff and Kyler Murray are headed towards something really fun. Vance Joseph is around to insure they need to score three touchdowns every week to have a fighting chance.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)

Even if Ben Roethlisberger hadn’t gotten hurt this offense looked average, at best. They don’t have a legitimate weapon across from Juju Smith-Schuster, unless you count Vance McDonald and his two touchdowns Sunday.

On defense, they’re having a ton of the same issues they had last year. Even after adding some premier talent in the draft and Steven Nelson in free agency. I know, it’s crazy: Turns out Devin Bush isn’t the savant he was made out to be this preseason.

I suspect Keith Butler’s coaching on borrowed time.

In the middle of Monday Night Football last night, Kevin Colbert seemed to recognize the issue. The Steelers acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for their 2020 first round pick.

It’s an incredibly risky move considering the team is turning to Mason Rudolph for the rest of the season and sit at 0-2 with 15.3% chance at the playoffs, according to Football Outsiders. If nothing else, the trade really illustrates how desperate things are looking in Pittsburgh.

If you read my thoughts on Fitzpatrick last week, you’ll know I liked him a lot. That said, I’m pretty dang glad Elway balked at the cost.

21. Chicago Bears (1-1)

What’s more concerning if you’re a Bears fan:

A) That Eddy Pineiro is the team’s leading scorer through two weeks?

OR

B) That Joe Flacco completed 70% of his passes against you?

20. Carolina Panthers (0-2)

Cam Newton hasn’t scored a touchdown in the last four games he started. That isn’t a typo. Over that span he’s thrown three interceptions, fumbled twice, taken 11 sacks, and completed 57% of his passes.

19. Detroit Lions (1-0-1)

Good enough to beat the Chargers, bad enough to blow it against the Cardinals, and technically, they have a winning record today. The 2019 Lions.

18. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

Fatally flawed, but maybe?

17. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)

How did Jacoby Brisset throw for three touchdowns and earn a sub-30 QBR? Ask ESPN, I have no idea.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

Going to take a second to give some huge props to Shaquil Barrett, who chose to sign a 1-year $5 million deal to play in the Todd Bowles defense last spring. So far it sure looks like the bet on himself is going to pay off huge in 2020.

15. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)

Probably Playoff Contenders

14. New Orleans Saints (1-1)

They slide down a tier or two if you don’t believe in Teddy Bridgewater. I defer to Sean Payton here. On the plus side, less Taysom Hill in the short term can only help their O.

13. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)

Rivers makes them tough to count out, but it’s fair to wonder how many serious injuries this team can suffer before their Super Bowl dreams are underwater.

12. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

11. Houston Texans (1-1)

Squeaking by a rookie fifth round quarterback looks even worse than this:

10. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)

9. Cleveland Browns (1-1)

I know the analytics probably doesn’t back this up, but watching Cleveland last night it sure looked like the best way to protect Baker Mayfield is feeding Nick Chubb.

8. Seattle Seahawks (2-0)

Good teams beat bad teams badly, so if you wanted to fight me over Shanny’s club sitting a spot below the Seachickens I’d consider the argument. I can’t buy into Jimmy Garropolo in games that matter ‘til I see the two face off, though. The NFC West is looking like it will be one of the most entertaining divisions in football this year.

7. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

Buying the Lamar Jackson hype, hoping it holds out when he faces a real NFL defense.

6. Los Angeles Rams (2-0)

Is there a luckier undefeated team?

5. Dallas Cowboys (2-0)

Through the first quarter of the Cowboys’ divisional matchup it sure looked like the Kellen Moore offense was essentially throwing a little nail polish on the lipsticked pig. It’s time to move past that, and to also appreciate the work Jon Kitna’s done to coach up Dak Prescott.

If the 4th-year passer keeps it up, Jerry’s going to have to tap a couple of extra oil wells to pay him. My questions going forward center on Big D’s defense. 21 points to a Case Keenum offense is cause for a little concern.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

My brother the Iggles fan blew up my phone as Atlanta eked out their win Sunday night. Here’s what he said:

Refs @#%@ the eagles out of a game

Between the 2 point and that B.S. call

#@$%ing garbage

%@#$

Here’s what I sent back, verbatim:

Welcome to the club.

3. Green Bay Packers (2-0)

After the first quarter in the Vikings game I was ready to predict a blowout for the Broncos this weekend. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams looked unstoppable and the Vikings were running in place.

I still need to look back through everything on the All-22, but this team looks as legit as any Denver will face in 2019. Matt LaFleuer is still figuring it out on offense, but the defense is every bit as scary as Chicago’s with a better play caller pulling the strings in Mike Pettine.

It’s going to be an interesting test.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)

Patrick Mahomes turned 24 yesterday. Elway’s got a lot of work to do if the Broncos hope to keep up.

Heavy lays the crown?

1. New England Patriots (2-0)

Barring some sort of catastrophic injury, everyone else is playing for second place.