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NFL Divisional Power Rankings, Week 5: NFC North reigns supreme

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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 5 look at the divisional power structure.

Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

Every single Tuesday of the NFL regular season, dozens of columns will come pouring out from every conceivable sports media outlet discussing the latest Power Rankings -- the list of where each NFL team fits within the greater picture when paired against one another. The NFL's own website will have their own. SB Nation will follow suit. The list goes on and on for football fans who cannot wait to see where their favorite team is placed.

But what about the divisions? Which division is the best in football? Which is the cupcake? What group of teams makes it particularly difficult for the teams within it to advance to the postseason and which teams have an easy journey to an automatic berth?

These are important questions, relatively speaking of course, so we wanted to answer that question.


1. NFC North - Let there be no doubt or debate about the NFC's dominance when it comes to conferences. The first real point of contention, then, comes within the NFC itself to decide who deserves the position atop this week's Power Rankings. The Vikings and Bears deserve credit for 3-1 starts, and the division's only losing record is a dangerous Lions' team at 1-3. As for Green Bay, they're the most potent third place team in football. Surprisingly stacked division.

2. NFC West - There is no surprise bigger than the NFC West this season, and there's a legitimate argument to be made that they deserve to be No. 1. But in the same way that I doubt Detroit and Green Bay's current mediocre records, I also cannot believe in the Cardinals magical start and that even the Rams are 2-2. When all is said and done, I feel confident those two balloons will deflate.

3. AFC North - Lots of questions here. Are Andy Dalton and A.J. Green ready to ascend with the Bengals offense to the next level? Are we watching the decline of the Steelers? Are the Ravens finally in Super Bowl form with Joe Flacco at the helm? Are the Browns... well, that doesn't matter so much. Still a potential SB contender, a strong young team and a tough Pittsburgh franchise anchor this division in 2012.

4. NFC East - Every team in the East has suffered through uninspiring moments, but every single team is also capable of winning each week. Without a losing record in the division, they warrant a spot near the top and experience will only help the Skins and RG3 get better as the season progresses. Health will be a big concern since each team has key areas of weakness, but this should be a tough fight to the end with all teams involved.

5. NFC South - Does anyone know what to make of this? Typically a winless team is someone everyone looks forward to playing, but I doubt any NFL coach likes the Saints on the schedule. The Panthers and Bucs have reasons to hope for a bright future and can surprise anyone. Of course, the Falcons look destined for greatness as they continue to mature and gain valuable experience with tough wins week after week. A better division than what their current records indicate.

6. AFC East - The Dolphins are the weak link here but they've proven to be interesting to watch at times. However, the Jets just laid an egg and that's two potential weak links here. Of course that doesn't even include the Pats' inability to win a big game and the Bills' defensive liabilities, which should not be the team's main issue. This division needs work top to bottom.

7. AFC South - The AFC South competes with the West (next) for the league's basement, but there's much more reason for hope here. The Texans are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and will go deep into the postseason. Andrew Luck has the Colts on the upswing and while this season might not be pretty, the team is in good hands. The Titans are a mixed bag, of course, and the Jaguars are the NFL's worst franchise. But this is a better division top to bottom than...

8. AFC West - A miserable division. The Raiders are still getting rid of pieces that don't fit. Chiefs Nation is calling for the axe of everyone in charge. The Broncos just won, but Peyton Manning's arm is concerning only four games into the season. And Norv Turner coaches the other team. The Chargers are the class, but that's being a big fish in a small, disgusting pond.