The Broncos are #1 in all of the rankings, again

For the second straight week, the Broncos rank #1 across every major advanced statistical ranking system.

This is pretty remarkable, and speaks to just how well Denver is playing right now.

As writers at each site explain in their own words, the 2014 Broncos have a chance to rank with the very best teams of recent vintage.

Sterling Xie, Advanced Football Analytics:

It's been a while since the NFL has seen a truly legendary team exhibit all-around dominance.  It's a little too early to declare any team as likely to fulfill that distinction, but apart from a three-quarter blip at CenturyLink Field, the Denver Broncos might be one of the best teams in recent NFL history.

That's a vague phrase that needs more clarification, but the first-half evidence points in that direction.  After their 42-17 dismantling of San Francisco, the Broncos are now the top-ranked offense and defense in these efficiency rankings.  Their 0.68 Gross Winning Percentage, a measure of their true long-term winning percentage, is absurd.  The next highest mark is 0.61—for reference, the second-place team is as close to the 12th-place team as it is to the Broncos...

If Denver can keep this pace up, they might begin to resemble a team many consider the most dominant in recent history, the 2007 Patriots.  Those Pats were undefeated at this time, of course, and they dazzled with a relentless and furious attack that made them a literally off-the-charts squad.  As you might expect, this year's Broncos don't really stack up yet (note that the Patriots graph is only for the first seven weeks of the 2007 season):

Aaron Schatz, Football Outsiders:

As a result, the Broncos are now living in "best team in DVOA history" territory. The Broncos are now the sixth-best team in DVOA ever measured through Week 7, and the second-best team this century, trailing only the 2007 Patriots. It's interesting to note that there are only four teams from the current century in the top dozen for DVOA through Week 7, and three of those teams had Peyton Manning at quarterback: the 2007 Colts, this year's Broncos, and last year's Broncos, who also had a DVOA rating over 40% after Week 7...

The Broncos defense has now been ranked No. 2 in DVOA for three straight weeks. This puts the Broncos into an interesting historical group: teams that ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in both offensive and defensive DVOA at the same time. There are a number of these teams early in the season thanks to one or two big wins, but once you get past the first month, very few teams have qualified. The Broncos are only the sixth team since 1989 to rank in the top two for both offense and defense after Week 5. No team had ever accomplished this for three straight weeks after September.

But let's wait until at least tomorrow's game to make grand proclamations, says Nate Silver, at his FiveThirtyEight blog:

The Broncos’ Elo rating is 1683, which translates to being favored by a touchdown in a neutral-site game against an average opponent. It’s also a fairly typical rating for the best team in the league at this point in the season. On average since 1970, the highest-rated team through Week 7 had an Elo rating of 1686, almost exactly matching Denver’s this year...

Elo puts the Broncos’ chances of winning the Super Bowl at 18 percent, somewhere between the two groups. Their Thursday-night home game against San Diego will be highly informative. A win for Denver would put it in a dominant position in the AFC West — it’d be a game-and-a-half ahead of the Chargers and at least two games ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs (with a tiebreaker advantage against each division rival). A loss to the Chargers would instead place Denver half a game behind San Diego with a tiebreaker disadvantage (and with the remaining game between the teams to be played in San Diego).

FWIW, Silver's colleagues suggest Thursday night will have a far bigger impact on the Chargers' playoff chances than on Denver's.

As for PFR's SRS, the Broncos are again #1, with the Colts in striking distance. Interestingly, SRS suggests five AFC teams (Kansas City, San Diego, Baltimore) are better than the top NFC squad (Seattle, by a hair over Green Bay).

Denver also remains tops in the AP poll, but you decide how much weight that carries after a glance at the list of voters.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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