DENVER -- The Broncos are No. 1 in your hearts.
And No. 1 in the NFL team power rankings of ESPN, the Washington Post and Pro Football Talk. And, get this, Philadelphia Magazine.
I didn’t know anybody in Philly or D.C. cared that much about Denver and its Broncos.
But, in most other locales in the modern world, the Broncos are No. 2 overall.
Well, actually, the Chicago Bears are No. 2, if you get my drift. And I’d think John Fox, the former Broncos’ coach, would agree. Like most people, John would rather be in Denver (although if he were, Fox and the Broncos wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl last year.)
Before the season started, most national media analysts and the Las Vegas oddsmakers, including top guy and my friend Jay Rood (who sets the lines for 12 MGM Resort International properties, and most other bookies follow his lead), had the Broncos ranked somewhere between fourth and 10 among the 32 NFL teams.
There wasn’t much respect for the Broncos because of the retirement of Peyton Manning, the defection of Brock Osweiler, the departures of Danny Travathan and Malik Jackson, the uncertainty about Aqib Talib (with a bullet wound and potential suspension) and the quarterback situation, with much hand-wringing over Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
Also, it generally was believed that the Kansas City Chiefs and even, yes, the Oakland Raiders might have surpassed the Broncos in the AFC West. There were dire predictions that the defending World Champions might not even make the playoffs this year or win more than nine games.
(Full disclosure: I picked the Broncos to go 10-6 and be a wild card. I think Denver7’s Lionel Bienvenu predicted 16-0 and the station's Broncos insider Troy Renck probably would claim he had predicted 15-1. Of course, Renck couldn’t pick his twin brother out of a police lineup.)
However, despite the negativity, the Broncos were positively sure they would be great again.
And here we are at Week 4, and the Broncos have moved up each week from 10th to eighth to five to first, or second, depending on what ranking you might trust. They survived a missed field in the home opener against Carolina (and should send fruit baskets weekly to Panthers’ kicker Graham Gano), and overcame Andrew Luck and the misadventures of Siemian in the second game.
Then, in Game 3 at Cincinnati, Trevor ”Sensational’’ Siemian threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns and calmed down the Bengals and his own Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.
Now, the enthusiasm for the Broncos has grown, even in Denver where the Broncos’ fanatics were cautious and curious, and, to misquote Roy Scheider from the movie “”Jaws’’ – “”We’re going to need a bigger bandwagon.’’
I’ve got the "Paige Power Poll" for you today. I’ve examined the top ten NFL rankings – sorry, Philadelphia Magazine – and used a five-point system (five points for first, four for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth) – to determine what the masterful media minds have determined three weeks in.
Here are a few things I could extrapolate: The Chiefs were ranked fifth in one poll, the Broncos fourth in another and the Cardinals fifth in another (the same that had the Broncos first) despite a losing record.
Here are the media outlets and their best five:
- ESPN: 1. Broncos; 2. Patriots; 3. Seahawks; 4. Vikings; 5. Arizona.
- Fox Sports: 1. Patriots; 2. Broncos; 3. Vikings; 4. Packers; 5. Eagles.
- Sports Illustrated: 1. Patriots; 2. Broncos; 3. Vikings; 4. Eagles; 5. Chiefs.
- CBS Sports: 1. Patriots; 2. Broncos; 3. Vikings; 4. Eagles; 5. Packers.
- USA Today: 1. Patriots; 2. Broncos; 3. Vikings; 4. Eagles; 5. Packers.
- Pro Football Talk: 1. Broncos; 2. Patriots; 3. Vikings; 4. Panthers; 5. Packers.
- NFL Network: 1. Patriots; 2. Broncos; 3. Vikings; 4. Packers; 5. Seahawks.
- Sporting News: 1. Patriots; 2. Broncos; 3. Vikings; 4. Eagles; 5. Packers.
- Washington Post: 1. Broncos; 2. Patriots; 3. Vikings; 4. Ravens; 5. Eagles.
- Forbes: 1. Patriots; 2. Eagles; 3. Vikings; 4. Broncos; 5. Ravens.
Forbes may know about money, but not much, apparently, about sports.
Under the five-point must system of the Paige Power Poll, here’s the ranking (and point totals):
- Patriots (48)
- Broncos (41)
- Vikings (29)
- Eagles (13)
- Packers (9)
My prediction is that the Broncos win on Sunday 30-20.
(Paige’s columns appear on Denver7.com on Fridays and Mondays. He is on SportsXtra on Sunday nights and Orange First online during the week.)