NFL Divisional Power Rankings, Week 7: NFC North takes over

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Every NFL Power Rankings debate is typically about which team is best, but how do the divisions stand up against each other. Here's our Week 7 look at the divisional power structure.

With another week in the books in the NFL, it's time for another NFL Divisional Power Rankings. While the bubble is being predictably burst -- or at least deflated -- in the NFC West, it's the NFC North that is quickly rising to the top. Buoyed by the great defense of Chicago and the Lions and Packers finally waking up, it's going to be a harsh season trying to clamor to the top of that mountain.

Here's this week's rundown on the top divisions in the NFL.

NFL DIVISIONAL POWER RANKINGS, WEEK 7:

1. NFC North - The Bears, Packers and Lions all won on Sunday, and the Vikings were the only team that lost. Considering they're already outperforming expectations, it was to be expected. The Lions and Packers are returning to form at the right time, and the Bears defense is championship-strong. The division as a whole is now more credible and believable as the best in the NFL.

2. NFC West - The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are the only teams of real substance here. While the Cardinals defense will be solid all season, the bubble has burst in Arizona and that's likely a trend that will continue. Despite the current high stock with all four teams at least at .500 or better, it's a stock worth selling.

3. NFC East - This division is perhaps the hardest to figure in the NFL. On any given Sunday, to use the term, each team could win or lose and yet there's so much talent here. The Eagles hope the firing of Juan Castillo provides a spark to move beyond .500. The Redskins enjoyed the return of RG3 but will likely ride a rookie-like roller coaster of a season. This week will be interesting to see Redskins vs. Giants and who comes out on top.

4. AFC North - In just one week, this entire division is severely downgraded. The Bengals gave the Browns their first victory of the season, and the Bengals upsurge in Andy Dalton's rookie year looks like it might have a lower ceiling than expected. The Steelers are 0-3 on the road and their bark is worse than their bite at this stage. The Ravens win again, but the long-term losses of Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb will be tough to stomach for the rest of 2012. Harsh week overall for the AFC North.

5. AFC East - This entire division is the very definition of mediocre. For all of the media coverage of the Jets and Pats, none of it is deserved. On the flip side, the Dolphins and Bills need to be taken more seriously. Anyone could take this division and if Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin can sneakily make a run at the division, this is the perfect year to do so.

6. NFC South - The Falcons' latest wins are ugly and the Bucs got a win against an ugly team. It's hard to tell whether that's a good thing or not, but a win is a win. Still, the Panthers and Saints are taking stock too early in the season. Expect this overall ranking to rise in the end, but for now they're still not a good set of teams in the NFC South.

7. AFC South - Hard week for the AFC South as the Houston Texans fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and the rest of the division took hits outside of the Titans. Andrew Luck's bubble was burst against the Jets of all teams, and the Jags are still the Jags. The entire division, at this point, has scored 150 points less than their collective opponents. That's ridiculous.

8. AFC West - Only one team in the division won this week, and that's because they were playing an inter-divisional contest. The Chiefs continue to fall flat against even the most mediocre opponents. The Raiders are a season-long project to figure out who is worth keeping. The Broncos looked sharp against the Chargers, and Norv Turner has to figure out how he gave up a 24 point lead at halftime. Denver has hope with Manning at the helm, but the division as a whole is the worst in football.


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