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NFL Power Rankings, Week 11: Broncos, Chiefs set for showdown at the top

Two weeks into November and the Broncos are securely at the top of SB Nation's NFL power rankings. This week, however, they get the game's only undefeated team in a huge AFC West clash.

CHirs Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

There are no more winless teams left in the NFL! While the Jags and Bucs remain at the bottom of the Week 11 Power Rankings, the Broncos stay on top with a huge home date against the league's only undefeated team.

1. Denver Broncos

Demaryius Thomas is rapidly approaching Superweapon status, killing defenses on all manner of routes despite rarely employing deep throws in Denver's quick-pass assault. Peyton Manning just has too many weapons right now, and he's getting the ball out so fast that even a subpar day from his OL can't slow him down. The secondary can still get picked on by precision passing, but the deep ball is becoming less of a worry as Von Miller continues to bring the heat. (Last Week: 1)

2. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks' offense had been doing juuuuust enough to get by, but got well in a hurry against Atlanta's dire defense. Seattle boasts the league's best pass offense/pass defense combo, which is a strong predictor of Super Bowl success. The question of the moment is whether the addition of Percy Harvin on offense can help balance out the loss of cornerback Brandon Browner. Seattle had best hope so, as it'll need to thrive against one of the NFL's toughest closing slates in order to wrap up home-field advantage. (Last Week: 2)

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Prove-It Week has finally arrived for the Chiefs. KC players have no doubt been yearning for respect as the league's last remaining undefeated bunch, and Lord knows their fans have. Sunday at Mile High, it's all in front of them: knock off the Broncos and they'll reel in the plaudits while taking pole position for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Alex Smith will have to play even better than Philip Rivers did last Sunday to exploit the Broncos' troubles with precision passing, and the Chiefs' secondary has to stick long enough for Houston and Hali to get home. They'll also need to avoid the Big Receiver Blues that they endured against Dez Bryant and Josh Gordon in trying to contain a white-hot Demaryius Thomas. This one's going to be fun. (Last Week: 4)

4. New Orleans Saints

The Cowboys' secondary is like a B12 shot for opposing passers, and it helped the Saints shake off their Jets-induced doldrums. Brees and the boys looked like world beaters Sunday night as their Supermen in the Superdome act continued and Rob Ryan tasted sweet revenge against Jerry Jones. Veteran know-how and bright coaching keeps the Saints ahead of the surging Panthers by a nose this week. Their late-season matchups will be fascinating to watch to see if Sean Payton can prevent Carolina from dragging his high-flying bunch down into the mud for a wrasslin' match. (Last Week: 8)

5. Carolina Panthers

The maturation of a contender isn't always a linear process. Sometimes there's an orderly procession from also-ran to challenger to division champ to elite, and other times a big-time team bursts onto the scene as sudden as a summer storm. For all the ugliness, the Panthers' road win over the 49ers announced them as bona fide contenders. They may be channeling the early 2000s Tennessee Titans, who featured a rock-ribbed D and an offense that wasn't explosive exactly, but that was really adept at gaining 10 yards in three downs. Getting past a battle-tested bunch like the Saints in their own division is a 50/50 prospect at best, but they can do everything that the Jets did to New Orleans with an even greater degree of violence. Even Seahawks-Niners might not offer as much drama as this Panthers-Saints battle plays out down the stretch. (Last Week: 6)

6. New England Patriots

Was the Pats' Week 9 torching of the Steelers a mirage, or have the returns of Amendola and Gronk finally given Tom Brady the ammo to throw down with the league's elite? We'll find out in a hurry, as back-to-back games against the Panthers and Broncos will go a long way towards divining the Pats' postseason prospects. Belichick may need all his wizardry to bind up a battered defense, but at least a healthy Aqib Talib can make matters easier if he continues to erase lead wideouts. (Last Week: 7)

7. Indianapolis Colts

The Half-Season of Living Dangerously caught up to the Colts, as the Indianapolis OL allowed a full-on pass rush assault that not even Andrew Luck could evade. It was a "burn the tape and come back next week" kind of game, but it served as a stark reminder that the real motivation behind Indy's trade for Trent Richardson was to keep the pass rush from killing Luck. It, um ... it ain't working. You never want to overreact after one ugly game, but the question of how far you can go with five above-average players (Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Robert Mathis and Vontae Davis, with a half-credit apiece for Cory Redding and LaRon Landry) has to be keeping the Colts' brain trust up at night. (Last Week: 3)

8. Detroit Lions

A desperate Bears team gave them all they wanted, but the Lions prevailed and now own a position in their division that should make everyone but the Patriots and Colts jealous. Detroit's ability to scheme throws for Calvin Johnson in the face of massive defensive attention stands in stark contrast to the Cowboys' bunglings with Dez Bryant. The Lions' front is rounding into form against the run and capable of terrorizing passers despite so-so sack numbers. The secondary can be had, but when Stafford-to-Johnson is clicking, the Lions can always fire back. (Last Week: 9)

9. San Francisco 49ers

What was billed as a physical defensive war didn't disappoint, as the 49ers went at it hammer and tongs with the Panthers but came up just short. A healthy 49ers team is much better than ninth, but head injuries to Vernon Davis and safety Eric Reid are scary stuff until we get good news from the docs. Without Davis, the San Francisco offense becomes absolutely brutal against good defenses. Even with the defense playing lights out, the 49ers will need all the firepower they can muster to get out of the Superdome with a win. (Last Week: 5)

10. Baltimore Ravens

After a Saturday marathon of MTV's 16 and Pregnant, Ravens DB James Ihedigbo got confused on a fourth-quarter Hail Mary and went for the "Knock It Up" gambit rather than the time-honored "Knock It Down" approach. It was one of the only bad defensive moments for the Ravens, though, as they forced the Red Rifle Squirt Gun into a trio of turnovers. The Ravens' run game looks broken beyond repair, but if their secondary plays to its potential, they could set themselves up for a run if Joe Flacco can pull a Double Eli and play over his head again during the right stretch of games. (Last Week: 17)

11. Cincinnati Bengals

The seams are beginning to show in a big way in Cincinnati. The Bengals have suffered a trio of devastating losses: Geno Atkins, Leon Hall and the lucky horseshoe that Andy Dalton was carrying against the Bills, Lions and Jets. The horseshoe at least put in a cameo appearance on Dalton's lulzy Hail Mary to A.J. Green, but the Bengals are looking more ordinary by the moment. Bold Power Rankings Prediction: If the Bengals don't get past the Browns at home this week, they cough up the division. (Last Week: 10)


12. San Diego Chargers

San Diego gave a game effort, but an early deficit exacerbated by a parade of O-line injuries was too much to overcome. The degree of difficulty keeps ratcheting up for Rivers as the faces up front keep changing and he's asked to keep chasing the points surrendered by the Bolts' less than electric secondary. Rivers' accuracy and Danny Woodhead's elfin magic may be enough to keep the offense rolling, but if Keenan Allen hits the rookie wall, the Chargers are in serious trouble. (Last Week: 14)

13. Arizona Cardinals

Softly, sneakily, silently, the Arizona Cardinals keep creeping up the rankings and sniffing around a run at a Wild Card. There's nothing soft or sneaky about their defense, though. Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett lead a unit that's punching offenses in the mouth each week. If Bruce Arians can scheme Larry Fitzgerald open with the same aplomb he managed for Reggie Wayne last season while also improving his score on the Running Back IQ Test (CHEAT SHEET: Ellington >>>>>>> Mendenhall), the Cards will be in the hunt until the end. (Last Week: 19)

14. Cleveland Browns

Do you believe in the magic of Jason Campbell? Yeah, I don't either, but he's done more to justify his presence in the NFL in two games than Brandon Weeden has in 20. His check down-heavy approach may not play to the strengths of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, but he moves the chains and doesn't cut his own team's throat with turnovers.  In a league with vanishingly few good teams, that's enough to put you squarely in the middle of the pack.  (Last Week: 19)

15. Chicago Bears

The Bears fired every bullet in their gun on Sunday, and were an overturned Alshon Jeffery TD away from edging the Lions. They now find themselves needing to rally after a gut-wrenching loss, and operating without Jay Cutler and the inimitable Peanut Tillman at cornerback. The Bears can't survive if the run game goes A.W.O.L. as it did against Detroit, and a battered defense might not have much more left in the tank. (Last Week: 15)

16. Miami Dolphins

The psychic costs of the Incognito/Martin imbroglio may be tough to measure, but the easily observable cost was the loss of two starting O-linemen. They were two more than the Dolphins could afford to lose, as they were repeatedly pillaged by a Bucs defensive front consisting of Gerald McCoy and a trio of no-names. Ryan Tannehill missed high, wide and every way in between, and the Dolphins may have missed out on their last chance to stay within sight of the Pats in the AFC East . (Last Week: 11)


17. Green Bay Packers

The absence of Aaron Rodgers moved the Packers-Eagles line 10 points, and it turns out that wasn't near enough. The season's biggest Fantasy Football Decapitation Strike took out Rodgers while also kneecapping studs Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson, and in the real world (with a blizzard of other injuries) this has the Packers on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. The only silver lining is the solid gold tweet this situation generated, courtesy of the great Jonathan Moxon himself, James Van Der Beek:

(Last Week: 12)

18. New York Jets

Another team that gained ground by standing still, the Jets will come out of the bye trying to adhere to Rex Ryan's Ground and Pound ethos. Geno Smith may still torpedo them with some three-interception games, but at least his three-interception games are somehow less deflating than Mark Sanchez' three-interception games. So the Jets have that going for them. (Last Week: 20)

19. Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Foles has officially grabbed the reins in Philly, and barring injury or a revelation that he electroshocks alpacas in a secret compound, he's unlikely to hand them back. Upper-echelon safety play will punish his mad-bomber stylings at some point, but for now opponents are having to defend the whole field and Chip Kelly's O is starting to hum a bit. And Foles darn sure isn't going to run into any upper-echelon safety play in a divisional game this season. (Last Week: 21)

20. Dallas Cowboys

Watching Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan try to scheme Dez Bryant open is like watching a rhesus monkey try to fly an F-22. The madcap abandon of the Broncos game is a distant memory, as Dallas' offense devolves into a primitive, brutish thing that tries to do stuff in the most difficult way possible. It's possible they're getting lulled by success in practice, considering that Dallas' historically atrocious secondary almost surrendered its FIFTH 400-yard passing game of the season while the front seven allowed Mark Ingram to double his career NFL yardage in one game. The Year of the Hamstring Pull in Dallas claimed Sean Lee on Sunday night, and the rest of the season is basically shaping up like a Trent Reznor lyric. (Last Week: 16)

Austin's punt return

21. St. Louis Rams

Styles make fights, and if a team trots out a laggardly O-line, the Rams' Fearsome Foursome 2.0 can thrash their opponent thoroughly enough to render other matchups meaningless. Andrew Luck was absolutely besieged by Robert Quinn and his mates, and as a bonus the St. Louis coaches finally looked under the couch and found the instruction booklet they'd lost when they unwrapped Tavon Austin. PAGE ONE: GET HIM THE BALL IN SPACE. PAGE TWO: N/A. (Last Week: 27)

22. Tennessee Titans

Don't blame the defense for Tennessee's ghastly loss to Jacksonville. The unit allowed a scant 3.8 yards per play and shut down a pair of frisky wideouts in Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown. The Titans had their proverbial Achilles tendons cut by the offense's four turnovers, and things are starting to look dim on that side of the ball. Ryan Fitzpatrick can turn in a game effort most weeks, but this passing attack will struggle against real defenses and Fitzy can't count on any consistent support from the game's most overrated running back. (Last Week: 18)

23. New York Giants

A narrow home win over the reeling Raiders isn't the stuff of ticker-tape parades, but everyone in the NFC East can at least break out some party poppers as the Cowboys fall back to the pack. The East's Quest For 8-8 should be an interesting if aesthetically unappealing watch down the stretch. The Giants can at least boast the division's least-worst secondary, and Andre Brown's welcome return provides a handy blunt object for an offense that has regressed to Paleolithic levels of efficiency. (Last Week: 24)


24. Washington Redskins

RGIII looked sharp early, but the fact that he could only rally Washington to a lone second-half field goal against the Vikes' downtrodden D was not a good sign. Of equally ill portent was the consistent pressure surrendered to the Vikes' previously punchless pass rush and the Skins' secondary setting Christian Ponder up with a shiny 113.1 passer rating. Chin up, Mr. Griffin. Michael Jordan's sophomore season was a disaster, too. (Last Week: 22)

25. Houston Texans

Ignore the Law of Running Back Fungibility at your own peril. The Texans committed their financial resources to Arian Foster and allowed the OL to decay, and their once-dominant zone running attack is in shambles. Andre Johnson is a stud, Case Keenum may be a keeper and J.J. Watt is still all-Milky Way Galaxy, but the Texans have too many holes on the roster to dig out from their early-season hole. (Last Week: 23)

26. Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben may be pushing for a trade in the offseason, but he and Le'Veon Bell still pushed the Steelers to a win over the reeling Bills. The NFL's oldest secondary -- which is really never a good thing to be -- got the week off against E.J. Manuel, but had best stock up on Geritol/Bengay/Viagra with Megatron coming to town next Sunday. Actually, the Viagra is probably a bad idea. Forget I said that. (Last Week: 28)

27. Oakland Raiders

Coach Dennis Allen has already exceeded preseason expectations by guiding the Raiders to three wins in their first nine games. The wheels may be about to fall off, however, as the Oakland passing game yields diminishing returns and Terrelle Pryor can't gain the 100 yards a game on the ground required to keep the Raiders' offense viable. Oakland's defensive front has acquitted itself with honor this season, but it may start to crack under the strain. (Last Week: 25)

28. Buffalo Bills

Doug Marrone may never make the NFL Hall of Fame, but his season-long mind-coitusing of CJ Spiller's fantasy owners would make Mike Shanahan or Bill Belichick proud. Marrone is having less success fooling NFL defensive coordinators, but an injury-driven QB carousel hasn't helped matters. Marcell Dareus and the Williams twins are doing yeoman's work up front on defense, but it's not enough to haul the Bills out of the mire. (Last Week: 26)

29. Atlanta Falcons

The latest round of the Roddy White-Richard Sherman feud went, um, rather decisively to Sherman. The ruins of the Falcons' secondary are still smoldering after yet another awful week, and the Atlanta ground attack couldn't muster anything against a previously vulnerable Seattle front. Throw in a toe injury to Tony Gonzalez, and it's another ugly showing in the Dirty South. (Last Week: 29)

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Turns out that it's less psychically debilitating to be yelled at by Greg Schiano than it is to answer 10,000 questions about Richie Incognito. The Bucs finally ran across a team suffering a bigger existential crisis than their own, and the Fighting Schianos notched their first win. They're also down to their last tailback, but if Mike Glennon continues to progress and Gerald McCoy continues to dominate ... could the Bucs get to three wins this season? Dare to dream. (Last Week: 30)

31. Minnesota Vikings

That's two credible games in a row for Christian Ponder, albeit against two of the league's most flammable secondaries. Despite a late-game shoulder injury, it sounds like Ponder will be back to try to build on that success in Week 11. And build he must, because not even Adrian Peterson can mash hard enough to make up for the Vikes' M*A*S*H unit of a secondary. (Last Week: 31)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

If the '72 Dolphins crack open the champagne every season when the last undefeated team loses, do the 2008 Lions guzzle antifreeze whenever the last winless team notches a victory to avoid joining them in permanent Pigskin Purgatory? On Sunday, we learned that if a team loses four turnovers AND its starting QB, the Jags are capable of securing a two-point win. That's not enough to lift them out of the Power Rankings basement, but it's a start. (Last Week: 32)

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