Peyton Manning downplayed another dominant victory over the weekend, and Denver Broncos coach John Fox insisted there are still plenty of areas where his team can improve.
Maybe that’s why the Broncos weren’t a unanimous No. 1 in the latest AP Pro32 power rankings.
The unbeaten Broncos received nine of 12 first-place votes Tuesday from a panel of media members who regularly cover the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks secured the other three first-place votes after their dramatic overtime victory in Houston also kept them undefeated.
“Super comeback last Sunday and this is the NFL’s most complete team,” wrote John Czarnecki of Fox Sports. He had the Seahawks at No. 1 along with longtime NFL coach and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards and Alex Marvez of SiriusXM and FoxSports1.
“Best defense in the NFL,” Edwards said. “Not only at home but also on the road.”
If the Seahawks have the best defense, the Broncos may have the best offense.
Manning has completed 75 percent of his passes for 1,470 yards and 16 touchdowns without an interception through the first four games, highlighted by another virtuoso performance in a 52-20 rout of the Eagles. At this rate, Manning would throw for 64 touchdowns, besting Tom Brady’s record of 50, and 5,880 yards, topping Drew Brees’ mark of 5,476.
Denver has now outscored its opponents by an average of 45-22 this season. Only the 1966 Dallas Cowboys were more prolific through their first four games.
“Peyton Manning is on fire in the early going, the defense is spectacular, and Denver looks like it won’t lose a game the way they’ve looked so far,” Newsday columnist Bob Glauber said.
Yes, the Broncos’ defense isn’t shabby, either. Neither are their special teams.
“There have been five kicks returned for touchdowns this season and Denver’s Trindon Holliday has two of them — a 105-yard kickoff against the Eagles and an 81-yard punt against the Giants,” observed Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Each of the remaining unbeaten teams moved up one place in the AP Pro32. New Orleans was third after its Monday night win over Miami, New England was fourth after holding off a late rally by Atlanta, and Kansas City was fifth after a 31-7 rout of the winless New York Giants.
The Chiefs have been on a steady climb under new coach Andy Reid. They began the season at No. 20 in the power ranking after winning just two games a year ago.
“Everyone thought the Broncos would run away with the Division,” Edwards said of the AFC West. “Don’t look now. The Chiefs are 4-0.”
The Colts jumped from 10th to sixth after their blowout of winless Jacksonville. They were followed by the 49ers, Lions, Bears and Dolphins in the first 10. The Bears dropped from third to ninth after their 40-32 loss at Detroit.
Green Bay was No. 11 after getting the weekend off. The Texans, Titans, Chargers and Bengals rounded out the next five, followed by the Ravens, Cowboys, Falcons, Browns and Bills.
The Jaguars were picked last on every ballot for the fourth straight week, and ESPN’s Jeff Legwold made this sobering assessment: “They’ve scored 13 fewer touchdowns than Peyton Manning.”
AP NFL poll: http://www.pro32.ap.org/poll