Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Power Rankings: No. 2 Denver Broncos
By Jeff Legwold
A weekly examination of the Broncos’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 3 | Last week: 2 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Broncos stumbled in their final home game of the regular season in a 27-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Thursday. But when a couple more of the AFC’s front-runners -- the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals -- lost as well this past weekend, the Broncos held on to the No. 2 spot in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings.
And after this past week’s games, the Broncos also kept their spot at the front of the line for home-field advantage in the playoffs. With wins over the 2-12 Houston Texans and the 4-10 Oakland Raiders in the last two weeks of the regular season, the Broncos will have the conference's top seed for the second consecutive season.
Still, the Broncos had a couple of red flags go up in their loss to the Chargers, most notably 177 yards rushing for San Diego, including 127 for Ryan Mathews, making him the first back to top 100 yards against the Broncos this season.
That performance on run defense -- the Broncos allowed the Chargers to keep the ball for 38 minutes, 49 seconds and keep Peyton Manning on the sideline -- was a big reason the Broncos agreed to terms with veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey on Tuesday morning.
The Broncos know offenses and, hoping to duplicate the approach, will try to pound away at their defense, especially when the postseason opens. But overall, the Broncos say the next two weeks are all about handling their own business and keeping their eyes on the prize.
“For us, fortunately, we’re still No. 1 in our conference and we’ve got two weeks left to make sure that we keep it that way,’’ said wide receiver Eric Decker. “We’ve got to come out stronger this week against Houston, play better -- play better all-around to make sure that we control our own destiny.’’