AFC West: 2013 NFL Week 5 Power Rankings

Power Rankings: No. 1 Denver Broncos

October, 1, 2013
A weekly examination of the Broncos’ Power Ranking:

Preseason: 3 | Last Week: 2 | Power Ranking since 2002

With their 59-20 demolition of the Philadelphia Eagles this past weekend, the Broncos moved up a spot and to the top of the Power Rankings as they emphatically launched themselves out of what coach John Fox calls the “first quarter of a four-quarter season." They have done it with an opportunistic defense still without two of its best players and an offense that has overwhelmed four consecutive opponents.

The Broncos are averaging 44.8 points per game, a pace that is eight points better than the highest-scoring offense in league history: the 2007 New England Patriots. Quarterback Peyton Manning has thrown 16 touchdown passes, or more touchdowns than every other team in the league has scored overall. They have beaten their four opponents by an average of 22 points.

Oh, and they have played defense without cornerback Champ Bailey or star pass-rusher Von Miller in the lineup. Bailey has missed four games with a left foot injury he suffered in preseason and Miller will miss two more games as part of his six-game suspension.

“But there’s plenty to work on,’’ Fox said. “We want ... to be playing our best football in February.’’
A weekly examination of the Raiders’ Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 29 | Power Ranking since 2002

The Raiders’ challenge coming into the Year 2 of the Reggie McKenzie-Dennis Allen regime under Mark Davis was to win games, obviously. The secondary, and probably more realistic, goal was to be more competitive than they were a year ago, when they finished 4-12 and floundered a bit in November.

Taking the glass-half-full approach, then, Oakland is more competitive, even if the Raiders have just one victory after the first quarter of the season.

“The positive is we’ve had opportunities to, probably with exception of the Denver game, we’ve had opportunities to win games,” Allen said. “We could easily be sitting here at 3-1.”

Indeed, the Raiders were eight yards from beating Indianapolis in the opener and jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Washington. Still, at 1-3, the Raiders are where many preseason prognosticators had them after four games. The challenge, then, is to keep moving forward, even if the rewards of victory are not in the offing. Besides, they moved up a spot in our Power Rankings after a loss, right?
A weekly examination of the Chiefs' Power Ranking:

Preseason: 19 | Last Week: 9 | Power Ranking since 2002

The Kansas City Chiefs continue their climb up the ESPN NFL Power Rankings. The 4-0 Chiefs, one of five remaining undefeated teams, are at No. 5, up from No. 9 last week.

I see no argument that supports putting any of the one-loss teams above the Chiefs in the rankings. Likewise, I see no argument that supports putting the Chiefs in the top two spots, currently occupied by Denver and Seattle.

But do the Chiefs deserve to be ranked No. 3 or 4? Maybe. Those spots are occupied by New Orleans and New England. The Saints have played three of their four games at home, with their only road game against winless Tampa Bay. They will get tested the next two weeks with road games against Chicago and New England.

The Patriots have road victories against Buffalo and Atlanta. That’s more impressive than the Chiefs, who have road wins against Jacksonville and Philadelphia. But the Chiefs have a point differential of plus-61, as opposed to plus-32 for New England.

My rankings would have the Chiefs at No. 4, behind the Patriots but ahead of the Saints.

Power Rankings: No. 17 Chargers

October, 1, 2013
A weekly examination of the Chargers’ Power Ranking:

Preseason ranking: 23 | Last Week: 19 | Power Ranking since 2002

The San Diego Chargers move up two spots to No. 17 after an impressive win at home against a talented but inconsistent Dallas Cowboys squad.

Now sitting at 2-2, the schedule continues to turn in San Diego’s favor. The Chargers face a dinged-up Oakland team on the road on Sunday, then return home to take on Indianapolis (Oct. 14), and close out the month on the road against hapless Jacksonville (Oct. 20) before the team’s bye week.

All three of those games are winnable. But the Chargers have to keep competing with the same urgency they played with against Dallas, particularly on the defensive end. Through four games, the identity of a Philip Rivers-led offense has been established. The Chargers need to create a similar type of mindset on the defensive side of the ball.