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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: Seahawks, Broncos set themselves apart 09.24.13 at 10:13 am ET
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No argument here: The two best teams in the NFL through three weeks reside in Seattle and Denver. The Seahawks latch on to the top spot in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings once again while the Broncos hold a firm grasp on the No. 2 position.

Seven undefeated teams remain, and four of them are ranked in our top five. The Saints (3) and Bears (4) claw their way in after starting the season on the outside. The Patriots (7), Dolphins (10) and Chiefs (14) still have something to prove before they can climb into elite status.

Spiraling downward are the Giants (26), Bucs (30) and Redskins (23). The G-Men fall eight slots as they prepare for the undefeated Chiefs in Week 4.

Click here to listen to Mut, Merloni, and Zarbano discuss this edition of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. 

1. (1) Seahawks (3-0) — Seattle has an early two-game lead over the 49ers in the battle for the NFC West. It’s just not fair to the other teams in the league when the Seahawks play at home.

2. (2) Broncos (3-0) — To figure out how dominant this Broncos offense really is, consider these statistical comparisons:

First 3 games        ’07 Patriots            ’13 Broncos

Points                              114                                127

Total yards                  1,323                            1,458

QB TDs                       Brady 10                   Manning 12

3. (6) Saints (3-0) —  The transformation on defense continues. The Saints are allowing just 12.4 points per game. Last year, the defense allowed 28.4.

4. (8) Bears (3-0) — An argument could be made that the Bears are the most improved team from last year. Marc Trestman‘s team has played with confidence, and it has translated on the field. There is only one starting quarterback in the league that has been sacked less than Jay Cutler. That’s a remarkable turnaround for a QB who has been sacked 148 times in the last four seasons.

5. (3) 49ers (1-2) —  It’s easy to see that the Niners offense is out of sync. The Seahawks defense can do that to a team. San Fran has to get back to what it does best on offense — pound the ball on the ground, have a high completion percentage and protect the football.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, NFL Power Rankings, Peyton Manning, Rex Ryan
WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Seahawks soar, Pats plunge 09.17.13 at 10:08 am ET
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It’s the best rivalry in football, but the Seahawks made it look easy in Sunday’s 29-3 thrashing of the Niners. Seattle soars to the top of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings following the statement win while the divisional-rival Niners drop to No. 3. The Broncos (2), Falcons (4) and Packers (5) round out the top five for a second straight week.

Despite being 2-0, the Patriots fall three spots to No. 9. After facing two rookie quarterbacks and two teams that combined for 20 losses in 2012, New England barely edged out victories in both games.

We’re just two weeks into the season, but if history tells us anything, the eight 0-2 teams have an uphill battle to climb. Since 1990 only 11.5 percent of teams that started 0-2 went on to make the playoffs. The Giants (18), Redskins (20), Vikings (24), Steelers (25), Panthers (29), Browns (31) and Jaguars (32) all have staggered out of the gate.

1. (3) Seahawks (2-0) — Dominant. That’s the simple way to describe Seattle’s stifling defense. Pete Carroll‘s D already has forced seven turnovers, allowed just one touchdown, and given up a total of 10 points.

2. (2) Broncos (2-0) — This team is so talented offensively, it can afford to be flagged 13 times and still win by 18 points.

3. (1) 49ers (1-1) —  Some red flags were raised after the lopsided loss to Seattle. Colin Kaepernick already has matched his total number of interceptions all of last year with three on Sunday. Jim Harbaugh‘s team has been penalized 23 times in its first two games. Turnovers and penalties usually are something the defending NFC champs are used to seeing from their opponents.

4. (4) Falcons (1-1) — The defending NFC South champs will limp into Week 3 after losing several key players to injury. Starters Kroy Biermann and Bradie Ewing are done for the season. Asante Samuel, Sean Weatherspoon and Steven Jackson also were hurt in Sunday’s win.

5. (5) Packers (1-1) — It’s amazing the Packers have been able to win so many games over the last few years without having a productive run game. It’s goes to show how explosive their offense has been. On Sunday, James Starks rushed for over 100 yards, the first time a Green Bay running back has accomplished that since 2010.

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Read More: Colin Kaepernick, NFL Power Rankings, Peyton Manning, Robert Kraft
WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 2: Niners have hold on No. 1 heading into showdown with Seahawks 09.10.13 at 11:56 am ET
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The 2013 season is underway, and naturally the overreactions from the first week of games are prevalent across the league. Four playoff teams from last season lost to non-playoff teams in Week 1. Some of these upsets had serious implications in this week’s WEEI NFL Power Rankings. For example, the Bengals dropped out of the top 10 to No. 12, and the Redskins fell all the way to No. 17.

The top five teams remained the same as last week, however there was some movement in the group. The Broncos jumped to No. 2 after a record-breaking night, and the Falcons dropped to No. 4 after falling to the Saints. The Patriots (6) and Texans (7) remain on the cusp waiting for one of the top five teams to falter.

Week 2 is all about the divisional showdowns. The most intriguing game to watch is the top-ranked 49ers at the third-ranked Seahawks, as the bitter rivals clash for the first time this year. Stay tuned to see how that game and the rest of the Week 2 matchups affect the rankings.

1. (1) 49ers (1-0) — The Niners are a flat-out scary, well-balanced team. They pressure the quarterback and can beat you in many different ways offensively. Is it too early to say the addition of Anquan Boldin is the offseason move of the year? 

2. (4) Broncos (1-0) — If the Broncos can muster a relatively productive run game, their offense will be unstoppable. The amount of weapons Peyton Manning has at his disposal should be illegal. The one area of weakness for Denver is its pass rush. However, that can’t be too much of a concern with an offense that will average over 30 points per game.

3. (2) Seahawks (1-0) — The offensive line must do a better job protecting Russell Wilson if the Seahawks want to accomplish their goal of winning the division and playing at home throughout the playoffs. The team standing in their way, the 49ers, thrives at pressuring the quarterback. Seattle has a major test in Week 2.

4. (3) Falcons (0-1) — Matt Ryan may have many weapons, but his line has to protect him better if the Falcons offense is going to be successful.

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Read More: NFL Power Rankings, Peyton Manning, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 1: NFC dominates top spots 09.05.13 at 8:47 am ET
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The “Boys of Fall” are back for another year, as the NFL season is ready to kick off. There are many storylines surrounding the 2013 season. Coaches are on the hot seat, rookie QBs are set to start, and divisional rivalries are as nasty as ever.

The NFC West was the joke of the NFL just a few years ago. Now that division dominates the WEEI NFL Power Rankings with the two top spots. The Niners begin the year at No. 1, while the second-ranked Seahawks smell blood and are committed to winning the division behind their ferocious defense. The Falcons, Broncos and Packers round out the top five, while the Patriots (6) are on the outside looking in.

We could see a shakeup as early as next week when the Niners put their lofty ranking on the line against the Packers.

And so it begins, the first edition of the NFL Power Rankings for the 2013 season. Be sure to check back here every Tuesday to see the latest version, and feel free to leave comments at the bottom to eviscerate me because you’re unhappy your team was left out of the top 10.

 1. 49ers (11-4-1) — The 49ers win games because of their style of play. It’s hard to find a faster, more physical defense in the league. Offensively, they run the ball down their opponent’s throat and complement the run game with a calculated passing attack. Oh yeah, they don’t turn the ball over, either.

2. Seahawks (11-5) — It’s all about securing home-field advantage in Seattle, because we saw last year what a difference it made when the Seahawks played at home. There’s no reason why this team can’t be a Super Bowl contender. Pete Carroll‘s club plays the game well in all phases.

3. Falcons (13-3) — The Falcons don’t have many weaknesses. They can beat you through the air and on the ground with a balanced offensive attack. They’re also strong defensively and are well-coached. Anything less than a return to the NFC championship should be considered a disappointment in Atlanta.

4. Broncos (13-3) — This Broncos offense is capable of putting up similar numbers to the Patriots’ 2007 squad. The defense may struggle at times, especially with Von Miller out for six games, but Peyton Manning and friends will simply outscore their opponents week after week.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, NFL Power Rankings, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
2013 NFL Power Rankings: Pre-draft edition 04.24.13 at 10:34 am ET
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It’s that rare time of year when the 32 NFL teams are graded by what they’ve done off the field just as much as what they’ve done on it. The last time we watched football, the Ravens were crowned Super Bowl champs. Since then, the champs have lost six starters on defense and their best pass-catching weapon. The Ray Lewis-less Ravens are at No. 7.

Once the joke of the NFL, the NFC West looks to be the preeminent division in the league. The Niners take the cake at No. 1, and the upgraded Seahawks, third in our rankings, will be a formidable opponent for the defending NFC champs.

The Patriots enter the draft in need of another receiver and a pass-rusher. The departure of Wes Welker has Tom Brady and company down to No. 4.

1. 49ers (11-4-1) — I’d like to hear an argument against the Niners being ranked the No. 1 team. They have a ferocious defense and an offense improved by the reliable Anquan Boldin. Right now San Francisco looks like the team to beat in 2013. (Pick 31 in Round 1 of the draft)

2. Broncos (13-3) — Barring injury to Peyton Manning, the Broncos have the AFC West wrapped up. The addition of Welker will make Denver’s offense even more unstoppable. Is there a better receiving tandem in the league than Demaryius Thomas and Welker? (28)

3. Seahawks (11-5) — After the year Seattle had followed by the offseason improvement, I’d expect nothing less than an NFC championship bid. Like many of the top teams in the NFL, Seattle is strong at defense. The D got even stronger with the addition of Cliff Avril. The Seahawks also strengthened one of their biggest weaknesses by adding Percy Harvin at receiver.

4. Patriots (12-4) — Danny Amendola replacing Welker is not an upgrade. The former Rams receiver may be younger and faster, but Welker offered consistency. He stayed on the field and worked well with Brady and the offense. There will be an adjustment period. The Patriots will go into the season with three talented receiving weapons (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Amendola), but all three are injury-prone. (29)

5. Packers (11-5) — Injuries plagued the offensive line last season. More depth on the line is important, especially with the Packers in a division where they have to playing against pass-rushers like Ndamukong Suh, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers. (26)

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Read More: Anquan Boldin, Mark Sanchez, NFL Power Rankings, Peyton Manning
WEEI NFL Power Rankings, playoff edition: Peyton Manning’s Broncos No. 1 01.02.13 at 9:40 am ET
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It’s finally here. The postseason kicks off this Saturday and there are many teams capable of raising the Vince Lombardi trophy in New Orleans. Of the 12 playoff teams, four were not in the postseason last year (Colts, Seahawks, Redskins, Vikings). Three of those teams will have rookie quarterbacks leading the offense. Football fans are in for an entertaining postseason.

Leading the way are the Broncos (1). With 11 straight wins and as the only team to have both a top-five offense and defense, Denver is poised for a deep run. The No. 1 seed in the NFC is at No. 4 in the Power Rankings. The Falcons will enjoy a week off before Matt Ryan attempts to win his first playoff game. The two other teams that will enjoy a first-round bye are the Niners (3) and Patriots (4).

Will wild card weekend produce a few upsets? The Seahawks (6) could deliver one on the road against the Redskins (10).

1. Broncos (13-3) ‘€” Peyton Manning has led the Broncos to 11 straight wins and guaranteed Denver home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The veteran quarterback has done a tremendous job getting the offense in sync. The passing attack is one of the most dynamic in the league. The defense is ranked in the top five of the league as well.

2.  49ers (11-4-1) ‘€” One thing to watch is how Justin Smith deals with his triceps injury. The dominant D-lineman is a big reason why the 49ers defense is the best in the league. San Francisco will be facing some high-powered offenses in the postseason and will need Smith to wreak havoc up front like he usually does.

3. Patriots (12-4) ‘€” We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but doesn’t it seem like the Patriots and Broncos are on a collision course for an AFC championship showdown? Grabbing a first-week bye puts the veteran Pats in a great position to return to the Super Bowl. A healthy Rob Gronkowski is key to this team’s success.

4. Falcons (13-3) ‘€”  The No. 1 seed in the AFC has a lot of doubters. The Falcons have been in this position before and have failed. The difference now is Matt Ryan is playing better, the offensive is filled with explosive playmakers, and new coordinator Mike Nolan has the defense playing inspired football.

5. Packers (11-5) ‘€” No one wants to play the Packers in the playoffs, but Green Bay is vulnerable with a beat-up offensive line, shaky defense, and only one guaranteed game on the friendly confines of the frozen tundra.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Broncos, Chuck Pagano, NFL Power Rankings
WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 16: Niners, Broncos pull ahead of Patriots 12.18.12 at 10:42 am ET
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For the second straight week, the No. 1 team has been dethroned in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. After falling to the Niners at home, the Patriots drop to No. 3 while San Francisco leaps to the top of the class. Nine straight wins has propelled the Broncos all the way to the No. 2 spot, and the red-hot Seahawks fly jump to No. 7.

The Giants (8), Ravens (9) and Steelers (15) all plummet as those three teams are a combined 2-7 in the month of December. With just two games to go, many teams are fighting for their playoff lives. The NFC race will be fascinating as six teams — Giants, Redskins (10), Bears (11) Cowboys (12), Seahawks and Vikings (16) — fight for three remaining spots.

As usual, the Jaguars (32), Chiefs (31), Raiders (30) and Eagles (29) remain the bottom feeders of the NFL.

1. (2) 49ers (10-3-1) ‘€” Yes, the Niners blew a 28-point lead, but they also went into Gillette Stadium and beat the red-hot Patriots in December. It was very impressive that they were able to keep their composure after losing the lead. In the end, the best defense in the league beat the best offense. 

2. (3) Broncos (11-3) ‘€” With games against two of the worst teams in the league remaining, the Broncos should wrap up the regular season and go into the playoffs with a first-round bye and 11 consecutive wins. 

3. (1) Patriots (10-4) ‘€” The road to the Super Bowl got a little tougher, but the Patriots have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. No team in the AFC will want to play New England once the playoffs begin. Putting up 31 points in a half against the best defense in the league without Rob Gronkowski is pretty impressive.

4. (4) Texans (12-2) ‘€” The number of big plays the Houston defense has allowed over the past few weeks has to be concerning to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Texans have given up a 30-plus, an 80-plus, and three 60-plus-yard touchdown passes in their last five games.

5. (5) Falcons (12-2) ‘€”  As the playoffs draw near, the Falcons made their best case on Sunday for why teams should be afraid to play them this postseason. This is a mentally tough, resilient and well-rounded football team.

6. (6) Packers (10-4) ‘€” Packers fans are optimistic their team will make another deep postseason run. Green Bay has won eight of its last nine, has wrapped up the NFC North, and is getting healthy at the right time.

7. (9) Seahawks (9-5) ‘€” Since November, the Seahawks have scored 210 points and are averaging 35 points per game. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have developed into one of the best quarterback-running back tandems in the league.

8. (7) Giants (8-6) ‘€” The inconsistent play at the end of the regular season has to catch up to them eventually, right? It’s hard to count the Giants out after what they did in ’07 and ’11, but they have put themselves in a very dangerous position with just two games to go.

9. (8) Ravens (9-5) ‘€” The Ravens need to find a way to stop the negative momentum that has built up in December. The best way to do that is for Joe Flacco to focus on protecting the football. Flacco has turned the ball over six times this month with three interceptions and three fumbles.

10. (13) Redskins (8-6) ‘€” It’s amazing how this team has gone from out of playoff contention to first place in the NFC East. The Redskins control their destiny — two more wins and they can call themselves division champs for the first time since 1999.

11. (10) Bears (8-6) ‘€” What good is Jay Cutler if he can’t beat the Packers? The Bears QB is 1-6 against Green Bay since joining the NFC North. It’s hard to imagine that a team that started the season 7-1 could miss the playoffs. Chicago controlled the division for most of the season but lost both of its games to Green Bay this year.

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