The Oakland Raiders are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, which is good for the NFL.

The Raiders, for years considered the bad boys of the NFL, are back to being one of the league's best teams and are garnering the attention of the rest of the league.

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This Raiders team can beat you so many ways. They can throw it around, which Derek Carr has done several times this season. Or they can pound the football, which they did to beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at the Black Hole.

There are defensive concerns, but even that side of the ball is showing signs of improvement since early in the season.

The Raiders are atop the AFC West and appear as the top challenger to the New England Patriots in the AFC right now. But if you look at these Power Rankings, the Raiders are in the fifth spot. They are behind Kansas City and Atlanta, two teams that beat them on their field. That matters.

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But the Raiders have impressed in a lot of ways. Carr is in the MVP discussion, and deservedly so. The Raiders are on a bye this week, but then play three straight home games, although the first one, against the Texans, is in Mexico City. The other two are against Carolina and Buffalo.

There are some tough tests in the final month, playing division road games at Kansas City, San Diego and Denver, but that's something to worry about in the future. For now, the Raiders are back.

And, for an NFL that has seen TV ratings sag, that's a good thing.

Biggest Movers
13 Ravens
7 Eagles
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Patriots They come out of their bye as the team to beat in the league. Can anybody derail them? -- 7-9-0
2 Cowboys The quarterback situation is clouding the fact that the defense has improved a lot this season. Rod Marinelli has done a nice job. -- 6-10-0
3 Chiefs It wasn't pretty against Jacksonville, but they found a way. They need Alex Smith back quickly. 1 14-2-0
4 Falcons With that offense, they will be tough to beat every week. They do face a tough test at Philadelphia this week. 1 4-12-0
5 Raiders That big, physical offensive line can control defenses. That makes it easier on the entire team. 1 8-8-0
6 Broncos The injuries on defense hurt them at Oakland, but now they face a tough turnaround going to New Orleans to face a revived Saints team. 3 5-11-0
7 Seahawks They pulled one out against the Bills, but now face a tough road trip to New England to face the NFL's best team. The defense has to be better than against the Bills. 1 12-4-0
8 Texans They are the class of the AFC South right now. That's not saying much. 4 4-12-0
9 Giants Eli Manning and the offense got it going against the Eagles and they are 5-3 because of it. Up next is a tough game with the Bengals. 4 6-10-0
10 Lions They are smack in the middle of the division race after beating Minnesota on Sunday. Jim Caldwell is off the hot seat -- for now. 7 5-11-0
11 Vikings The fast start seems like a long time ago after three consecutive losses. The offense is horrible. 4 7-9-0
12 Packers At 4-4, they hardly look like a Super Bowl contender at the halfway point of the season. They also face three straight road games coming up next. 3 13-3-0
13 Football Team They come out of their bye with an important home game against the Vikings. Not having left tackle Trent Williams will make that tougher to face that defense. 1 7-9-0
14 Ravens They are back to looking impressive on defense. That's what has them in first place in the division. 13 11-5-0
15 Dolphins The running game has this team at 4-4. Adam Gase has done a heck of a job. 5 10-6-0
16 Chargers They've had a lot of injuries, but at 4-5 they won't go away. They face a tough challenge for the defense when the Miami running game comes to town. 2 7-9-0
17 Eagles Two road losses the past two weeks has this team reeling. Now they face a good Atlanta team at home. 7 4-11-1
18 Steelers Ben Roethlisberger didn't look right against the Ravens. Will he be right this week against the Cowboys? 7 12-4-0
19 Saints That offense continues to be dynamic with Drew Brees and they ran it well last week. They are 4-4 with the Broncos coming to New Orleans. 4 12-4-0
20 Bengals They had a tough schedule before their bye, and it softens some in the second half. They are still in the race, even with the slow start. 5 4-11-1
21 Cardinals They just haven't looked right so far. Maybe the bye was good for them last week. Can they get that offense back on track? 5 8-8-0
22 Colts That win at Green Bay could be the thing that gets this team going. They just haven't been able to stack up wins this season. 3 11-5-0
23 Panthers They've won two straight games, and it's been the defense that's keyed it. Can they now get on a roll? 5 5-11-0
24 Bills They fought in Seattle, but the reality is they've lost three consecutive games. Their season is going downhill fast. 3 13-3-0
25 Buccaneers They just don't have much talent on defense. That puts a lot of pressure on the offense to score. 3 11-5-0
26 Titans They turned it over at San Diego, which they can't afford with their style of play. Even so, they are still in the AFC South race. 2 11-5-0
27 Rams Get it over with and please put Jared Goff in the lineup. It makes no sense not to do so. 2 10-6-0
28 Jets This season has gone bad quickly. Todd Bowles was considered a coaching star last year. Now? Not so much. 2 2-14-0
29 Bears They need to use the rest of the season to decide if Jay Cutler is their guy next year. He sure looked like it against Minnesota. -- 8-8-0
30 Jaguars They competed against the Chiefs, which is a good sign. But this season is done. -- 1-15-0
31 49ers They are horrendous on defense, which was once a calling card for this team. They can't stop anybody. -- 6-10-0
32 Browns So linebacker Christian Kirksey thinks they won't lose all 16 games. I do. -- 11-5-0