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Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: NBC Sports Drop Broncos To No. 14

The Denver Broncos (8-7) head into Sunday's game hoping secure their place in the 2012 AFC Playoffs, but the Broncos, losers of two straight games, face a familiar face Week 17 in their former starting quarterback, Kyle Orton. In order to reach the playoffs and fend off the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos will almost certainly need to win on Sunday.

According to the Week 17 Power Rankings from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk, the Broncos brass better hope Denver can win on Sunday:

14. Broncos (No. 10; 8-7): If Kyle Orton pulls the plug on Tebowmania, John Elway may have to leave Denver permanently.

The Broncos initially entered the 2011 NFL Season with Kyle Orton as their starting quarterback, but after the team went 1-4 under his direction, head coach John Fox promoted QB Tim Tebow to the first string offense. With Tebow starting, the team has gone 7-3, completing several dramatic comebacks, but the recent losing streak leaves Denver tottering on the brink of playoff elimination.

Orton, meanwhile, requested to be released so he could join the Chicago Bears -- who had just lost QB Jay Cutler to a thumb injury -- and the Kansas City Chiefs picked him up off the waiver wire. Orton is averaging a career-best 315.6 yards per game and has gone 1-1 as the Chiefs starting QB.

Stay tuned to SB Nation Denver for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Denver Broncos be sure to visit Mile High Report. Visit SB Nation NFL for more news and notes around the league.