Following a Super Bowl loss in February, Peyton Manning and the Broncos improved from third to first for the first time since the poll began in 1998. Denver has seen its popularity increase from a low-point of 17th in 2011 before Manning joined the team.
Despite their best start since 2007, the Cowboys dropped out of the top spot for the first time since 2006. They were ranked fourth. It is only the second time in 14 polls that Dallas has not finished either first or second.
The Detroit Lions made the biggest leap, moving from 22nd to 13th. The Buffalo Bills jumped eight spots from 28th to 20th, and the Cincinnati Bengals moved up seven spots from 24th to 27th. The reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks improved from 12th to 6th.
The Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens tied for the biggest free fall as each dropped seven spots in the poll. The Colts moved from 19th to 26th. In March, owner Jim Irsay was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The Ravens dropped from 16th to 23rd. In September, video of Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancée became public.
- Paul Palladino