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NFL Power Rankings Week 9: Here come the Denver Broncos!

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

What a weekend of football! The AFC has begun to clearly separate themselves from the NFC at the very top as three undefeated AFC teams look like the three best teams in football. However, outside of those three teams the NFC is fairly competitive.

We are at or nearly at the halfway point in the season and the true playoff contenders are beginning to show themselves. Surprising teams like the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are actually looking like they will compete down the stretch for those final playoff spots. Others, like the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys are fading quickly.

Here's your Week 9 NFL power rankings!

1.
New England Patriots

Record 7-0. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are probably a lot more interested in the Denver Broncos this week, as an upcoming trip to Denver will now likely have major playoff implications. The Road to the Super Bowl could be determined then.

2.
Denver Broncos

Record 7-0. Ah yes, it feels so good to be a perfect seven and oh.

3.
Cincinnati Bengals

Record 7-0. The Cincinnati Bengals should not have won on Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense did everything right, but Ben Roethlisberger wasn't ready to come back and losing Le'Veon Bell for the season didn't help matters. Even so, you have to credit the Bengals for being 7-0.

4.
Carolina Panthers

Record 7-0. The Carolina Panthers dodged a bullet on Monday Night Football. Their defense nearly lost the game for them, but then their defense sealed victory in overtime. Cam Newton looked efficient. The Panthers are undefeated, but I'm just not sure if they are the best team in the NFL or the third best behind the Cardinals and Packers.

5.
Arizona Cardinals

Record 6-2. Early on, I though the Arizona Cardinals were about to screw the pooch and blow the lead they have built in the NFC West. Down 20-10 at halftime, the Cardinals would shut the Cleveland Browns out in the second half while ripping off 24 second half points of their own. Not bad.

6.
Green Bay Packers

Record 6-1. Aaron Rodgers played his worst game of his career on Sunday Night Football. He was flustered, confused, frustrated and just plain beaten in front of a national audience. The Green Bay Packers are still the best team in the NFC, but maybe only for one more week as the Carolinas Panthers might have something to say about that.

7.
Atlanta Falcons

Record 6-2. The Atlanta Falcons are having offensive problems similar to what the Denver Broncos were going through to start the year. The problem here is that the Falcons do not have the defense that the Broncos have to bail them out of it. This team might just stagger into the playoffs for a one and done.

8.
Minnesota Vikings

Record 5-2. A few weeks ago the experts were discounting the Denver Broncos because of the quality of opponents the have faced. Well guess what, these Minnesota Vikings are 5-2 and one game out of first place in the NFC North. So bite me.

9.
St. Louis Rams

Record 4-3. I say this every single week, but St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley is a beast. That is all.

10.
Oakland Raiders

Record 4-3. Derek Carr is going to be a thorn in the Broncos side in years to come and he looks like he'll be able to take the Raiders to the playoffs in a rather weak middle tier of the AFC this season. All of those Raider memes we won't be able to use anymore. It kind of makes me sad, but it would be even better to beat them in the playoffs.

11.
Seattle Seahawks

Record 4-4. Guess who has quietly put themselves back in playoff contention? Yeah, these stupid Seattle Seahawks. God I hate this team.

12.
New Orleans Saints

Record 4-4. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have scratched and clawed their way back into contention behind a 511 yard, 7 touchdown performance on Sunday. In fact, Drew Brees accounted for eight touchdowns on the day as his interception went for a touchdown the other way.

13.
New York Jets

Record 4-3. Every time I went to look at the Broncos defense standings, these annoying New York Jets were right there with them in every category. Until now. The Jets were shellacked by the Oakland Raiders on the road and it leaves this team with questions about its playoff viability moving forward.

14.
New York Giants

Record 4-4. The NFC East seams to come up short in the 100 point shootout games. First the Dallas Cowboys crapped the bed late against the Denver Broncos in 2013 to lose 51-48, now the New York Giants crap it against the New Orleans Saints to lose 52-49. Ouch.

15.
Pittsburgh Steelers

Record 4-4. This is about where I expected the Pittsburgh Steelers to be when Roethlisberger returned to the lineup. He just came back a week earlier than I thought he would. It also showed he came back a week earlier, so its a wash either way. The Steelers are good enough to be a threat for that fifth or sixth playoff spot in the AFC.

16.
Indianapolis Colts

Record 3-5. Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts woke from their slumber late in the fourth quarter to rally on the road to nearly defeat the Carolina Panthers in overtime. The Colts are a dangerous team, but completely unpredictable at this point.

17.
Philadelphia Eagles

Record 3-4. Bye Week.

18.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record 3-4. Jamies Winston is quietly having an incredibly impressive rookie season, despite the early struggles this season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are fighting their way back to .500 and could be competing for that sixth playoff spot if they keep gaming like they did last week.

19.
Kansas City Chiefs

Record 3-5. Look who just climbed out of the AFC West cellar. The Kansas City Chiefs are finally opening things up for a change. Something I did not think Alex Smith still knew how to do. They will need to beat Denver in Denver if they hope to salvage any part of their season. Good luck with that.

20.
Buffalo Bills

Record 3-4. Bye Week.

21.
Washington Redskins

Record 3-4. Bye Week.

22.
Miami Dolphins

Record 3-4. Well, I think we can lay that Miami Dolphins hype to rest now. Rest in peace.

23.
Jacksonville Jaguars

Record 2-5. Bye Week.

24.
Houston Texans

Record 3-5. The Houston Texans were obliterated by the Miami Dolphins a week ago, but those teams tend to come out the next week playing a lot harder and it showed here. The Texans got up early and the defense completely suffocated Zach Mettenberger of the Titans. Oh and guess what, the Texans are tied for first place in the AFC South. Surprise!

25.
Baltimore Ravens

Record 2-6. The Baltimore Ravens have been in every single game this year. The problem is, they've lost six of those eight games. Every which way they could lose, they found a way to lose it that way. Joe Flacco, this time, did enough to bring a much needed win to the once proud franchise.

26.
San Diego Chargers

Record 2-6. Can anyone remember the last time the San Diego Chargers were cellar dwellars in the division after eight games? My mind goes back to that 1-15 season in 2001. Welcome back to where you belong, San Diego. Or should I say, Los Angeles.

27.
Dallas Cowboys

Record 2-5. For all of the jokes people make about Tony Romo choking, these Dallas Cowboys are winless without him. In fact, they could be 2-8 before he even sees the field again. Yikes!

28.
Chicago Bears

Record 2-5. Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears couldn't do enough to hold off the Vikings at home. They fall to 2-5 on the year and, shockingly, are still relatively healthy. All that talent and they still cannot win football games at home.

29.
Cleveland Browns

Record 2-6. Without the stout defense of years' past, the Cleveland Browns are unable to hang with most teams and when they do the defense lets them down. Hopefully their front office will decide to trade Joe Thomas to the Broncos for a mid round pick and everyone can be happy.

30.
Tennessee Titans

Record 1-6. Oh boy, the wheels came off the Tennessee Titans right quick after an early win this season. The team is anemic on offense and about average on defense, which is a bad recipe in the NFL. They are in the AFC South, however, so they should be able to get another win or two before the season is finished. Yay!

31.
San Francisco 49ers

Record 2-6. Thank you San Francisco 49ers for the services of Vernon Davis. We will gladly rescue him from your dumpster fire of a season. In fact, here is Jed York trying to put out the fire right now.

32.
Detroit Lions

Record 1-7. How does Jim Caldwell remain employed after all of this? I mean how bad does a football team have to play to get a head coach fired. The Detroit Lions are imploding before our very eyes.