Broncos free safety Justin Simmons high-fives wide receiver Courtland Sutton, left, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as the defense enters the field Sept. 26 before a game against the Jets in Denver.


To spell it out, the Broncos aren’t getting any mile high regard beyond Colorado’s borders.

Nationally, the Broncos are considered a kid’s pull toy.

In a consensus of 10 major sports websites, the Broncos are ranked 13th overall in the NFL. They have cracked one top 10 (ninth), but are as low as 16th and 18th in others.

According to pro football specialists at ESPN, which also employs me, the Broncos currently are rated last in the AFC West — behind four more undefeated teams and seven teams with 2-1 records and one 1-2 team.

The Ravens are ranked six spots ahead of the Broncos, and the 3-0 Raiders are fifth, the 2-1 Chargers ninth and the Chiefs 10th despite two losses in three games. We all can understand the Rams (3-0), the Buccaneers (2-1), the Bills (2-1) and possibly the Browns (2-1) and the 49ers (2-1), but the Cardinals (3-0) and the Panthers (3-0) haven’t been so special, and the Packers (2-1) were blown out in their first game.

The Chiefs must be beneficiaries of a lifetime achievement award.

Yes, we acknowledge that the Broncos have beaten three teams that belong on a Nebraska non-conference schedule or in the Alliance of American Football. The Giants (0-3) are ranked 29th, the Jaguars (0-4) and the Jets (32nd), and the Broncos were presented a gift basket 17th game with the Lions (0-3 and 31st).

However, the Broncos outscored those three vermin by 50 points (76-26), and they do rank second overall in NFL defense and 14th on offense.

Denver must be in the time zone the league forgot, or the Twilight Zone with a gremlin on the charter’s wing despite the Broncos turning Daniel Jones, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson upside down and inside out.

The rankers must not have noticed that Von Miller is back (and just was named the AFC player of the month), and Teddy Bridgewater is back as he was when the quarterback took over for an injured Drew Brees and went 5-0 with the Saints in 2019 and had an 11-5 mark with the Vikings in 2015 before he suffered a devastating leg injury. Teddy is completing 76.8 percent of his passes and has four touchdowns without an interception.

If the Broncos and Bridgewater beat the Ravens Sunday afternoon, they’ll certainly deserved to be in the elite eight.

Since 1990, teams that start out 4-0 reach the playoffs 83.5 percent of the time (76 of 91).

With the lollipop section of the schedule over, the Broncos still have eight home games. If they can hold serve in seven, a 10-7 record, in all probability, would advance them into the postseason, especially since the NFL expanded to seven teams in the playoffs in 2020.

Only one 11-5 team has failed to be included in the playoffs. Despite winning five of their last seven to ascend to 11 victories, the Broncos were shut out of the postseason in 1985. In 1986 and ’89, though, the Broncos won 11 and not only participated in the playoffs, but reached the Super Bowl.

The Broncos had one more 11-5 record in 2000 and got into the playoffs as a wild card, but lost in Baltimore 21-3.

Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh was asked Wednesday by The Gazette’s George Stoia if he had any favorite memories of playing in Denver. “I think you guys know,’’ he replied.

The coach wasn’t aware that George was barely in high school on Jan. 12, 2013 when the Ravens produced, to the people of Maryland, “The Mile High Miracle.’’ In Colorado Joe Flacco’s 70-touchdown pass to tie the Broncos in the playoff game in the last minute of the fourth quarter was “The Denver Disaster.’’

Broncos coach John Fox chose to run out the clock rather than turn Peyton Manning loose. The Broncos lost to the Ravens in overtime, and Baltimore became World Champions.

In a revenge rematch in the opening regular-game of 2013 at the same stadium, Manning threw a record-tying seven touchdowns for a 49-27 triumph.

It is well to recall that the Ravens once were the Cleveland Browns, and “The Drive’’ and “The Fumble’’ live on forever.

The Broncos, as the late Aretha Franklin sang, can earn R-E-S-P-E-C-T Sunday.

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