NFL Power Rankings: Is AFC or NFC League's Best Conference?

Andrea HangstFeatured Columnist IVOctober 3, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 2: Donald Driver #80 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a touchdown with Aaron Rogers #12 and Jordy Nelson #87 during the game against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field on October 2, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Broncos 47-23. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

For time immemorial (or at least since 1970), NFL fans have furiously debated whether the AFC or the NFC is league's most dominant conference.

While it's easy to point to the Green Bay Packers, the reigning Super Bowl champions, as proof that the NFC is the better conference, why not take a glance at the power rankings to see what the league looks like?

This week, those champion Packers sit atop the power rankings, where they've sat for three of four weeks thus far this season. And two other NFC teams round out the top three: the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions.

The Packers are just one of two undefeated teams through three weeks, and they've done so in the grand fashion we've come to expect.

They've outscored all opponents by a total of 51 points, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his super-accurate arm leading the team's offense. And while the defense could use some improvement (and this season, there's no team one can't say that about), as each week progresses, the Packers' deficiencies become fewer and fewer.

The No. 2 team in the league, the New Orleans Saints, have just one loss under their collective belt, that being a Week 1 shootout loss against those undefeated Packers. In terms of balance, the Saints practically exemplify it, boasting both a top-five offense and defense, through the first three weeks of the season.

On the heels of the Saints and Packers are the only other undefeated team in the NFL, the Detroit Lions. The Lions went into the season with a heavy load of expectations on their shoulders, and to their credit have not disappointed.

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02:   Chris Houston #23 of the Detroit Lions intercepts a pass intended for  Laurent Robinson #81 of the Dallas Cowboys and scores a touchdown at Cowboys Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Lions beat the Cowboys 34
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In Week 4, the team passed its first major test of the season, defeating the Dallas Cowboys, 34-30. Next week, their division-mates, the Chicago Bears, come to town in a nationally-televised Monday night game. This is just the stage the Lions need to showcase their considerable talent to the entire country.

Yes, the remaining seven teams in the top 10 of my power rankings are AFC teams, making a great case for why that conference may be better and tougher than its NFC counterpart.

However, the NFC boasts the top three teams in the NFL, teams that those remaining seven in the top 10 would struggle mightily to beat. The NFC's best teams are better than the AFC's best teams, and thus, it is (through four weeks) the tougher conference.


NFL Power Rankings, Week 5*
1. Green Bay Packers
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Detroit Lions
4. New England Patriots
5. San Diego Chargers
6. Houston Texans
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Buffalo Bills
9. Tennessee Titans
10. Oakland Raiders
11. New York Jets
12. Washington Redskins
13. Pittsburgh Steelers
14. New York Giants
15. San Francisco 49ers
16. Atlanta Falcons
17. Chicago Bears
18. Dallas Cowboys
19. Philadelphia Eagles
20. Carolina Panthers
21. Cincinnati Bengals
22. Cleveland Browns
23. Arizona Cardinals
24. Denver Broncos
25. Kansas City Chiefs
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
27. Minnesota Vikings
28. Miami Dolphins
29. Seattle Seahawks
30. St. Louis Rams

*Unranked: Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (playing Monday night)