By Chris Burke
September 18, 2013
Could Peyton Manning and the Broncos go undefeated this season? It's fair to wonder.
Simon Bruty/SI
NFL Power Rankings
1 Denver Broncos
Last Week: 1
(Sung to the tune of "Football on Your Phone") So you want to beat the Broncos? Well, here's your chance. 'Cause without Ryan Clady, Peyton might have to dance.

(Note: I also considered going with a "That phone's not for callin', it's for Monte Ballin'," but it was a dead end.)
2 Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 3
You want confidence? Here's what safety Earl Thomas told The Seattle Times after his team's Sunday night shellacking of San Francisco: "We knew we could win a game 5-0 because, playing our base stuff, they couldn't do anything against us." Seattle tacked on an extra 24 insurance points anyway.
3 Houston Texans
Last Week: 6
The Texans probably should be 0-2. Instead, they're 2-0. The main reason they're this high on the list, though: DeAndre Hopkins. A general consensus over the past couple of seasons has been that the Texans just needed to come up with an Andre Johnson complement to really take off as a team. Hopkins offered up pretty convincing evidence Sunday that the missing piece has been found.
4 San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 2
Suffice it to say, Jim Harbaugh probably filed it away in his memory bank that Pete Carroll challenged for a fumble up by 24 with four minutes left Sunday. As the defending NFC champs and with a Week 1 win over Green Bay, San Francisco has bragging rights over the conference ... but Seattle's whooped 'em twice in a row.
5 Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 7
Washington knocked Eddie Lacy out on Green Bay's first carry of the game. Aaron Rodgers made them pay for it the rest of the day, throwing for 480 yards and four touchdowns. Had Washington actually been able to stay competitive, Rodgers might have blown by Norm Van Brocklin's single-game record of 554 yards.
6 New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 4
Say hello to the bizarro Saints. Black is white, up is down, the defense is leading the way, Mark Ingram is ... OK, Mark Ingram is still the same plodding back he's been since 2011. He was stuffed twice (and Pierre Thomas once) on the Tampa Bay goal line just before halftime, a sequence that nearly cost the Saints win No. 2.
7 Chicago Bears
Last Week: 8
There's a scene in a Seinfeld episode where Elaine touches a boiling hot plate, even though the diner's waitress warns her against it. She then tells Puddy not to touch the plate, and he does anyway. That's basically what kicking to Devin Hester is at this point, be it on kickoffs or punts. Teams know it's a bad idea but just keep on doing it.
8 New England Patriots
Last Week: 5
Know how many times Tom Brady threw to Julian Edelman in 2011? Thirteen -- counting five targets in the playoffs. Edelman saw 32 passes come his direction last season. Last Thursday against the Jets, Brady targeted Edelman 18 times, the clearest evidence yet that the Patriots' receiver corps is in shambles.
9 Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 13
Don't look now but the AFC West is a combined 6-2, tied for the best divisional record in football. The odds that all four teams finish at or above .500 are incredibly poor. The chances of Kansas City sticking around all year? A lot better. After Thursday's tricky game in Philadelphia, the Chiefs are home for four of their next five.
10 Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 14
How many games can Atlanta win in the fashion it did Sunday, getting zero rushing yards from Steven Jackson? Well, hopefully for the Falcons, at least a couple more now that Jackson will be sidelined for a bit. Of course, if Julio Jones stays on pace for 2,000 yards, it'll help.
11 Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 19
Say hello to the only team holding a 2-0 record away from home. That gives Miami the same number of road wins it had in both 2011 and '12. On the other hand, the Dolphins won six outside of Miami in 2010 ... and missed the playoffs because they went 1-7 at home.
12 Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 9
Anyone paying attention before or after the draft knew that Cincinnati had found a couple of talented pieces in RB Gio Bernard and TE Tyler Eifert. What we were not aware of until Monday is that 322-pound Domata Peko can mash people from the fullback spot. He may be the key to Cincinnati's short-yardage success this season.
13 Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 12
Ever watch a really crummy disaster movie, like The Day After Tomorrow, and get to that point where you think, "There's no way all of this could happen." That's the Ravens' injury list, which Sunday added Ray Rice to a group of walking wounded that already includes Dennis Pitta, Jameel McClain, Jacoby Jones, Aaron Mellette and others.
14 Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 10
Congrats to tight end Jason Witten, who passed Shannon Sharpe for second place on the NFL's all-time receiving list at tight end on Sunday. Witten now has 817 receptions, two more than Sharpe. Next up: Tony Gonzalez, who's currently 432 catches ahead of Witten. That works out to 72 grabs per year, if Witten can match Gonzalez's longevity by lasting another six seasons.
15 Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 16
The Titans were mere minutes away from upsetting Houston to stake an early claim to the AFC South. Now the question is: Do the Titans draw confidence from their near-miss on the road or will the pain of that defeat linger?
16 Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 11
One of the best "Oh, hey, Peyton Manning is actually human" moments came in 2010 and it remains immortalized on YouTube. It occurred when Donald Brown missed a block, leading to Manning screaming, "G*******t, Donald!" No such luck on the audio from Indianapolis' final offensive play Sunday, but Andrew Luck probably had the same reaction, as Brown whiffed on blitzing linebacker Philip Wheeler.
17 St. Louis Rams
Last Week: 18
On Sunday, Jared Cook gave St. Louis fans a little taste of the frustration those in Tennessee felt for four seasons. After a seven-catch, 141-yard, two-touchdown Rams debut, Cook was held to one grab in a loss to Atlanta. Worse yet, he slipped back into his frustratingly familiar pattern of getting outworked physically at the line.
18 Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 27
The Bills get a bump for their dramatic win over Carolina. They also get one because I'm a sucker for a great sports moment -- and, man, they hardly get better than a teary-eyed EJ Manuel celebrating with his dad in the stands on his dad's birthday. "I told him I loved him, and that I was proud of him," Manuel's father told SI's Austin Murphy. "And he told me 'Happy birthday.' What a present."
19 New York Giants
Last Week: 20
That Brandon Jacobs touchdown run was a fun blast from the past and all, but David Wilson needs to regain his role as the unquestioned No. 1 back here. Jacobs carried the ball seven times in his Big Blue return. He gained four yards.
20 San Diego Chargers
Last Week: 30
The Chargers continue to be the NFL's Rubik's Cube. As soon as you think you have them figured out, they reveal another totally screwed up side. Kudos to Mike McCoy, though, on his first win -- and especially for keeping his team together on a short week after a Monday night meltdown against Houston.
21 Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 28
On a 4th-and-4, with the game on the line, the Lions tried to beat Tyrann Mathieu inside with a quick slant to Nate Burleson. Bad idea. Mathieu was all over the route and dropped Burleson shy of the marker, wrapping up a come-from-behind victory.
22 Detroit Lions
Last Week: 17
Several players reportedly took exception to NBC's Tony Dungy labeling this team the "Same Old Lions" after Sunday's brutal loss in Arizona. Fine, but you know what would be new? Forgetting about what people outside the organization are saying and delivering some results on the field.
23 Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 15
Third in points scored, 28th in points allowed. There's a decent chance that is how the entire 2013 season will go for an Eagles team that will need to win games by lighting up the scoreboard -- just as pretty much everyone expected before the year began.
24 Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 22
Let's just say that the Vikings' plan this offseason, as they spent on Greg Jennings and traded up for Cordarrelle Patterson, was not to have Jerome Simpson leading the team in receptions and yards.
25 New York Jets
Last Week: 23
Geno Smith's indecisive performance Thursday night against the Patriots led to one of Mike Mayock's better -- if initially quite confusing -- lines: "You can't burp the baby." The meaning? Smith invited the Patriots' pass rush to get home by standing stationary in the pocket, patting the football as he tried to find a receiver.
26 Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 24
"Our margin for error was minimal," head coach Mike Tomlin said after a mistake-filled Monday night loss to Cincinnati. The margin for error was minimal; it's gone now. Two losses with a Sunday nighter against the Bears forthcoming puts the Steelers in a pretty tough spot. So does a run game that has all of 75 yards through two games.
27 Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 29
Darren McFadden is fourth in the league in rushing after two games (177 yards). QB Terrelle Pryor (162 yards) is seventh. By comparison, the top QB-RB combo last season, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, landed third and 35th, respectively, in the NFL's rushing rankings.
28 Washington Redskins
Last Week: 21
Yeah, yeah, RGIII's off to a slow start. But ... "Look, their defense in Washington doesn't even exist," current ESPN analyst Mike Ditka said Monday on Mike and Mike. "They didn't even show up in the first half of that game. I mean, they were horrible. Horrible."
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 25
Darrelle Revis is frustrated with Greg Schiano, according to a FOX report. Josh Freeman may or may not be asking for a trade out of town. The team held a closed-door meeting before even playing a game. All that in-fighting made Rian Lindell's missed 47-yarder and the Saints' ensuing comeback win sting even more.
30 Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 26
Look, Panthers, if you have some sort of allergic reaction to September, you really need to start letting us know before the season starts. Trying to play through it clearly is not working.
31 Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 31
Are the Browns better than this ranking? Yes. Have they proven it? Not yet. Maybe getting WR Josh Gordon back from suspension will help an offense that has 16 points in two weeks. I'd suggest stealing the Vikings' "Make Adrian Peterson do everything" plan for Trent Richardson, but Richardson has had no luck behind a porous O-line so far.
32 Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 32
One hundred seventeen minutes and three seconds. That's how long it took the Jaguars to score on offense this season -- Chad Henne broke the drought with a pass to Clay Harbor, of all people. With a Week 3 trip to Seattle looming, it's fair to ask when the Jaguars will be able to score again.

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