AFC West: 2013 NFL Week 15 Power Rankings

A weekly examination of the Chargers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 23 | Last Week: 16 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

With the team’s most impressive win of the season, the Chargers rose in the rankings, right? Wrong. ESPN’s panel of NFL experts actually dropped the Chargers down a spot to No. 17 in this week’s Power Rankings. However, San Diego’s drop might have more to do with who they beat on Sunday (the New York Giants) than how they are playing at this point of the season.

San Diego doesn’t have time to celebrate after Sunday’s win, with three days to prepare for perhaps the best team in the AFC in a nationally televised game at Denver. And the Chargers will get Denver’s best because the Broncos are still playing to secure the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC playoffs.

At 6-7, the Chargers have an outside shot at earning the No. 6 AFC wild-card berth. But the Chargers likely have to win out, and also need teams in front of them like Baltimore (7-6) and Miami (7-6) to stumble in the last three games.
A weekly examination of the Chiefs' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 19 | Last Week: 7 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

These are the perils of playing one of the NFL's worst teams. The Kansas City Chiefs went on the road Sunday and returned with a 45-10 victory. But because it happened against the feeble Washington Redskins, it was almost as if it didn't happen in the ESPN Power Rankings.

The Chiefs retained their No. 7 spot. Even with the lopsided win against the Redskins, the Chiefs are where they belong in the rankings. They're immediately behind the No. 5 San Francisco 49ers, who beat the Seattle Seahawks over the weekend, and the No. 6 Carolina Panthers, who lost at the New Orleans Saints, but have recent victories over the 49ers and New England Patriots.

The Chiefs have just one victory over an opponent currently ranked in the top 10 -- a September win against the No. 9 Philadelphia Eagles.

The Chiefs may not move in the rankings even if they beat the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday. The Raiders are 28th in this week's rankings.
A weekly examination of the Raiders' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 25 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

What was once a strength -- the defense -- has become the Oakland Raiders' Achilles’ heel -- albeit an injured one.

For three straight weeks, the defense has let the team down by either (A) allowing a late lead to dwindle (against the Tennessee Titans); (B) allowing a big lead to fade (Dallas Cowboys); or (C) not making a stand after a score (New York Jets). The latest pratfall, in the Meadowlands, had 16th-year veteran Charles Woodson calling it the most “embarrassing” loss he’s ever encountered.

As such, the Raiders dropped three spots in our latest Power Rankings, and speculation has begun about coach Dennis Allen’s job security. After all, defense is his specialty. And his handling of the quarterback position -- playing Terrelle Pryor for one productive series against the Jets before sticking with Matt McGloin, who would eventually find his way -- has many scratching their heads.

Still, injuries and a lack of quality depth have hamstrung Oakland, which has now lost 13 straight games in the Eastern time zone while getting outscored by a combined 469-225. And Allen’s road record of 2-13 is the NFL’s worst since the start of last season.

Power Rankings: No. 2 Denver Broncos

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
2:00
PM ET
A weekly examination of the Broncos’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 3 | Last week: 2 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Denver Broncos are one of two 11-win teams in the league, they have scored a league-high 515 points -- 158 more points than the next-highest team -- they are coming off their third 50-point game of the season (the first team to have three in the same year since the '69 Minnesota Vikings) and they still remain at No. 2 in ESPN.com's Power Rankings this week.

The Broncos also kept their grip on an AFC West title and currently have the No. 1 seed in the race for home-field advantage in the AFC after a 51-28 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

It was quarterback Peyton Manning's seventh game of the season with at least four touchdown passes, and he wasn't sacked and did not throw an interception in the game. And with kickoff temperature at 18 degrees, it gave Manning a tidy little forum to show he can throw in the cold.

The most pressing question in the big picture for the Broncos, and likely the question that kept them at No. 2 this week behind the Seattle Seahawks, who lost at San Francisco on Sunday, comes with their defense. The defense has surrendered at least 17 points in every game this season, and is 25th in points allowed per game (26.5) and 29th in passing yards allowed per game (274.3).

The Broncos have juggled the lineup some on defense, moving veteran linebacker Paris Lenon into the mix as well as second-year defensive back Omar Bolden at safety as they search for some answers on that side of the ball.

Or as coach John Fox put it earlier this week: "We're not satisfied at this point. There's room for improvement and I'm not ashamed to say it."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider