The storylines from early in the season are starting to fall apart a bit. The Patriots started poorly, but now sit at 5-2 (even though they still haven’t been inspiring their old confidence). The Bengals have failed to win three weeks in a row after a great start. The Saints are in bad shape. Seattle is in bad shape. Green Bay is starting to round into form, but they can’t shake the Lions. The Cowboys looks amazing. And most relevant to the power rankings, the Chargers lost for the second time. That’s enough to knock them out of the number 1 spot, and after a convincing win over the 49ers, the Broncos have taken over.
Those same Broncos face those same Chargers tonight. San Diego actually didn’t lose too much ground in terms of their rating, although the KC game was enough to drop them to fourth. The Denver win was pretty impressive though; they gained about 150% of what the Chargers lost. And the Broncos are at home. So it’s no surprise that they’re favored to win tonight. The question, as always, it by how much. The line started at about a touchdown but has moved up to nearly ten points. If that sounds familiar, it’s because I said the same thing about the Pats-Jets game last week. And just like that game, the models like the underdog to cover. They all have the Broncos as more like 4-5 point favorites.
Since it’s close to game time, I won’t say too much more. Detroit and Baltimore changed places for top defense in the league. Despite the notable interception to set up their win, the Lions gave up 23 points and let Drew Brees pass for 7.6 yards per attempt when they had been averaging 13.7 points and 5.2 yards per attempt against. Baltimore, on the other hand, completely stifled the Falcons, who (even after the game) are 9th in the league in both points for and passing efficiency. Matt Ryan wasn’t intercepted, but he was sacked five times and took 44 passes just to get 228 yards. That’s great defensive work.
A few other notes: despite the loss, Seattle’s rating didn’t change much. They still have decent team numbers, they just don’t have the wins to go with them. Kind of like the Chargers from a few years back. A few articles have pointed out that the Colts already have a fantastic chance of making the playoffs just because the rest of their division is terrible. That could be true, but the ratings also have them as a top squad this year. The Cowboys have the best record in football thanks to a few teams having had their bye already, but the rankings only have them at 6th. They did improve a decent amount with the win over the Giants though. And at the sad end of the scale, the Bucs took over last place from the Jaguars after Jacksonville notched their first win. Tampa didn’t play and their rating didn’t really change, but Jacksonville’s went up.