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Broncos Leapfrog Two AFC West Rivals in Week 4 Power Rankings

The Denver Broncos are a team on the rise, despite the imperfections.

After grinding out an 11-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers, the Denver Broncos have been bumped back into the top 15 of Dan Hanzus’s NFL power rankings. Even sweeter, not one but two AFC West rivals have plummeted beneath the Broncos after all three division opponents lost in Week 3. 

The Broncos climbed three spots this week in NFL.com's power rankings. So what does Hanzus think of Dove Valley’s finest entering Week 4? 

Let's dive in.

Denver Broncos Rank: 14

“If the Broncos find their groove and end up making noise in the AFC this year, they'll look back and marvel at how fortunate they were to escape the season's first three weeks with a winning record. With the Denver offense again unimpressive on Sunday night against the 49ers, the defense continued to carry the team -- forcing two turnovers in the final 2:06 to clinch a bizarre-as-its-score 11-10 win. Expect to hear plenty of talk out of Denver this week about the go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown drive piloted by Russell Wilson and the potentially galvanizing effect it can have on the attack going forward. We'll see about that.”

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Denver is fortunate to have a 2-1 record through its first three games. If the Broncos flip the two fumbles against Seattle into touchdowns, we could be talking about a 3-0 Broncos team sitting alone at the top of the AFC West. However, as it stands, the Broncos are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Football Gods work in mysterious ways.

For the third week in a row, the Broncos' offense failed to find its groove. San Francisco boasts one of the best defenses, so it was predictable that Denver's offense would have its struggles. 

Still, the Broncos were non-existent offensively outside of Russell Wilson returning to form in a fourth-quarter come-from-behind drive that ended in a Melvin Gordon touchdown. At times, Wilson's accuracy was off, and even when he was on point, his targets dropped easy completions. 

Wilson seems hesitant to trust his instincts to run, but when he did on Sunday night, it paid off. Hopefully, he gained some confidence and will be less gun-shy going forward.

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The Broncos' defense proved it can carry this team. The Broncos tallied four sacks, two fumble recoveries, one interception, and one safety. 

Linebacker Josey Jewell’s return seemed to button up the rest of the Denver defense. Rush linebacker Randy Gregory is living up to his contract thus far, notching another sack in a second consecutive game. 

Opposite Gregory, Bradley Chubb also put Jimmy Garoppolo in the dirt. This pass-rushing duo could easily be top-five if they continue to produce like this game to game. Meanwhile, Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain ll didn’t allow a catch on six targets, bolstering his bid to be the best cornerback in the league.

Denver faces the winless Las Vegas Raiders this week and will look to continue its upward trajectory. The Raiders have an abysmal secondary and leaky offensive line that the Broncos should exploit. 

Las Vegas is cornered with its season already on the line. Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels could very well be coaching for his job. Desperation breeds ingenuity, so this could be a trap game for Denver if they overlook their opponent. 

If Wilson and the Broncos' offense find their footing, this team will be a force to be reckoned with in the AFC. Will the Broncos escape Sin City with a win that could cripple the Raiders organization, or will they fall prey to their offensive ineptitude? 

Time will tell.


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