It looks weird. We know. It’s time again for Tiebreaker.com’s NFC power rankings and all of a sudden black is white, right is left and tuna salad on rye is ham and cheese on wheat. Who dat? Well, the New Orleans Saints, of course.
New Orleans Saints
We received a phone call on Sunday about 6 p.m. EST from a gentlemen identifying himself as Michael Thomas, a receiver on the Saints. He said he’d just scored a touchdown and didn’t have much time, but he asked if we’d consider promoting his team to No. 1 in the power rankings. It was nice of him to think of us. He said Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara sent their best. Hey, it’s the least we can do.
Los Angeles Rams
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Rams and Saints could play a best-of-seven for the NFC championship? The back and forth on Sunday was simply intoxicating. We never expected the Rams to finish the season undefeated. That would have been too much to ask. But one loss does not alter the opinion that their offense is blessed. Now, if only cornerback Marcus Peters knew where he was on that last TD pass …
Cam Newton has helped the Panthers engineer a six-game winning streak that has them back in contention in the NFC South, where the Saints currently reign. His completion percentage is 67.3 and he has 15 TD passes and only four interceptions. They can be a very dangerous team come playoff time, not as explosive as the Saints, but combustible enough to give somebody a migraine.
The Vikings defense sacked Matthew Stafford 10 times on Sunday which tells us one of two things. Minnesota is finally into its defensive groove or the Lions have an atrocious offensive line. But let’s be honest, if their defense is improving weekly, that could be a big advantage in the postseason, especially now that Dalvin Cook is back to help on offense.
The Bears beat Buffalo 41-9 with Khalil Mack not in the lineup. That’s their personal version of the mercy rule. Chicago is entering a stretch of divisional opponents that will go a long way determining of they are a now team or a one-year away team. If nothing else, at least they know they have a quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky.
Listen, we all know how important health is during the long grind of the season. Not only did the Redskins lose badly last week to Atlanta, they lost three more players – guards Brandon Scherff and Shaun Lauyao and receiver Paul Richardson – to IR. The offensive line is in tatters.
The Seahawks loss to the Chargers last week wasn’t really unexpected. But you have thought, after so many years in the league, that veteran Sebastian Janikowski could have come up with a better effort on the onside kick that could have given Russell Wilson one final shot. Then again, maybe the Seahawks are nothing more than a 4-4 team.
It’s quite apparent the Eagles might be able to defend their NFC East title with a .500 record. The Giants stink. The Cowboys stink. The Redskins are unpredictable. But here’s the thing with them: How far can they possibly go with an offense that couldn’t break the tape first in a race against New Orleans, Los Angeles and Minnesota if you gave it a 50-yard start.
Give the Falcons a ton of credit for not giving up on the season after losing four of the first five games. The win over the Redskins, their third straight, proved its offense might be as good as any in league – Matt Ryan is a legit MVP candidate. And now it looks like Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones may be back in time for the last few games of the season.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are not packing offensively. They have one of the best quarterbacks of our generation, but the weapons of the Arizona Cardinals when Larry Fitzgerald can’t play. It’s sad to see Aaron Rodgers this way. It’s a real credit to the guy to know he has 15 TD passes and just one INT.
Their loss to the Vikings was disappointing on many levels, the play of the offensive line the tip of the substandard stuff. We’ve had a lot of faith and confidence in this team over the last few weeks. But who knows, maybe the offensive line was angry they traded Golden Tate away with the division title still within reach. Once again, the Lions on Thanksgiving Day won’t be worth the time.
You may have heard of “The Curse of the Bambino?” That’s what the hocus pocus placed on the head of the Red Sox was coined after they traded The Babe to the Yankees. It’s what many attribute their long World Series drought to. We believe “The Curse of Jerry Jones” was placed on the Cowboys after Jones dispensed with Jimmy Johnson after he won Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993. A two-touchdown home loss to Tennessee? We feel bad for you, Cowboys fans. Have you looked into exorcism?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Say what you will about the other sad sacks in the league. But there may be no bunch as dysfunctional as the Bucs. Jameis Winston is a bust. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a free agent after this season. The point is, they have no quarterback, no apparent direction. They can’t stop anyone defensively, not surprising since four of their best players are either on IR or convalescing. Their 48-40 win over New Orleans in Week 1 maybe the greatest upset in the league this season.
With great apprehension, the Cardinals prepare for their game this weekend against the Chiefs. Arizona’s offense, historically putrid, was barely capable of keeping up with the 49ers. What could it possible do to keep pace with Pat Mahomes? Here’s an idea: Let’s give the ball to David Johnson and kill as much of the clock as you can. Time won’t even wait for the Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers
So the 49ers put their third-string QB Nick Mullens on the field last Thursday Night against the Raiders and the kid looked like he was Montana or Young, throwing for 262 yards and three TDs. Here’s the best thing we’ve said all season about the Niners: Mullen’s passer rating of 151.9 is the best by a QB in his debut, with at least 20 pass attempts, since 1970. And not even Montana or Young three TDS in their first games. Calm down. It was against the Raiders.
New York Giants
If the worst team in the NFC takes a bye week and nobody notices they are gone, is that a bad thing for the Giants? Eli Manning will startMonday Night against the 49ers and we bet ESPN simply can’t wait.