A weekly examination of the Broncos' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 3 | Last Week: 2 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
Perhaps it is a lingering concern over their defense and what the loss of linebacker Von Miller will mean for the upcoming postseason, but the Denver Broncos remained at No. 2 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings.
That’s despite a 37-13 victory over the struggling Houston Texans, a win in which quarterback Peyton Manning threw his 48th, 49th, 50th and 51st touchdown passes of the season to set a new NFL single-season record. Manning could add to that total Sunday since the Broncos need a win in Oakland to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
But whatever becomes of the Broncos in the postseason, it will have to be without Miller, who tore the ACL in his right knee against the Texans and is set to have surgery in the next two to three weeks. Miller will face a rehab that is expected to take anywhere between six to nine months.
Though Miller had missed the first six games of the season because of a suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, the Broncos had consistently hoped he would continue to round into form as the postseason approached. But now a defense that has allowed 25.7 points per game and has been spotty at times pressuring opposing quarterbacks even with Miller in the lineup has to find a way to create pressure without him.
The Broncos went 6-0 during Miller’s suspension, a fact they have pointed to all week. But teams threw for at least 300 yards in five of those games, with Dallas’ Tony Romo putting up 506 passing yards.
"We know what we need to do," Broncos cornerback Chris Harris said. "And we know it’s the guys we have in this room that have to get it done. I think everybody has confidence. Von is a great player, but we have confidence we can get it done."