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NFC Power Rankings: Rams Are Battering All Comers

Presenting the first NFC power rankings from Tiebreaker.com:

1. Los Angeles Rams (2-0)

Rams

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The Rams have been dominating in their first two wins over the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals, outscoring them 77-13. Jared Goff (64.6 completion percentage, 587 yards) might have the best trio of receivers in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, all of whom could end up with 1,000 yards.

2. Minnesota Vikings (1-0-1)

Vikings

Jonathan Daniel / Getty

The Vikings would be 2-0 had kicker Daniel Carlson done his job last week in the 29-29 tie at Green Bay. But as a result, they have upgraded the position by signing Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate kicker in the history of the league. “It was an easy decision,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. Kirk Cousins is already on point with 669 yards passing and six touchdowns.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)

The Bucs are the early surprise of the NFC thanks to the spectacular play of veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has already thrown for eight touchdowns and over 800 yards, including four TD passes of more than 50 yards. In two weeks, starter Jameis Winston returns from his suspension and you have to wonder if they will tinker with what’s been a winning formula.

4. Green Bay Packers (1-0-1)

Had the Vikings not been aware enough to call a timeout before Mason Crosby crushed what would have been a game-winning, 52-yard field goal, they would also be 2-0. Crosby missed the reboot, sending the game into overtime. Two things the Packers need to watch: Aaron Rodgers’ health and their vulnerable pass defense.

5. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)

After their opening-night loss in Philadelphia, the Falcons regained their balance with their 31-24 win over Carolina. Perhaps the most encouraging part of it was the way the offense spread the ball around, running for 170 yards and throwing for 272. Tevin Coleman became the first back to gain more than 100 yards rushing against the Panthers in 22 games.

6. Carolina Panthers (1-1)

The Panthers believe they have one of the best – if not the best – defense in the league, which made the way the Falcons toyed with them more painful. But it’s clear Christian McCaffery is right on schedule. After catching 80 passes out of the backfield last season, Cam Newton hit him 14 times for 102 yards against the Falcons. No Panther since Steve Smith has had 14 catches in one game. Still, the receivers are going to need to do more if Carolina is going to press Atlanta for the division championship.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

The Eagles are ready for the return of quarterback Carson Wentz at home Sunday against Indianapolis. Wentz was on his way to an MVP season in 2017 before destroying his knee tumbling into the end zone in Los Angles on Dec. 10. So we bid a thankful goodbye to Nick Foles, the MVP of the Super Bowl, who ended his run in Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay with 334 yards, 73 percent completion percentage and no interceptions.

8. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

We ranked the 49ers this high based solely on the fact they have Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. Look, Rodgers had to sit behind Brett Favre before the league found out what he could do. Jimmy G is a winner.  But so seems to be DeForest Buckner, who already has 3 ½ sacks and kicker Robbie Gould had made 29 straight field goals, a franchise record.

9. Chicago Bears (1-1)

The Bears might be the most interesting team in the NFC, simply because no one is quite sure what they are capable of. We do know they led Green Bay 20-0 in Week 1 before Rodgers limped his way a comeback win. On Monday night, they jumped on Seattle and then hung on to win 24-17 with Prince Amukamara’s 49-yard pick six with 6:37 to play. Mitchell Trubisky still has a lot of prove, but the Bears defense sacked Russell Wilson six times.

10. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

This ranking might be too low, but we are in a wait-and-see mode about the Cowboys. Beating the New York Giants is no longer a bit deal. But this might be: the Cowboys rank first in the NFL in sacks (9), third in scoring defense, fourth in total defense and fifth in passing defense. Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley had 28 yards on 11 carries on Sunday. Our problem is that Dak Prescott is averaging only 149 passing yards per game with one touchdown.

11. Washington Redskins (1-1)

After scoring just nine points in their loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, and Green Bay coming to town, the Redskins decided they needed help at receiver and they have signed both Breshad Perriman and Michael Floyd to help Alex Smith, who had 292 yards passing but no touchdowns last week. But it’s just not the passing game that needs adjusting. Washington had only 65 yards rushing, as well.

12. New Orleans Saints (1-1)

This Saints came very close to losing to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and if not for Cleveland kicker Zane Gonzalez, who lost his job by missing two field goals and two extra points, they likely would have. They had begun with a 48-41 loss to Tampa and were quite aware of starting 0-2 in each of the last four seasons before rebounding to win the NFC South in 2017. At some point, somebody other than Michael Thomas (28 receptions, 269 yards) is going to have to step up.

13. Seattle Seahawks (0-2)

The convenient excuse is to say that the Seahawks need to get Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Doug Baldwin back from injury as soon as possible before Seattle drops out of the playoff race for the second straight season. But seeing the mobile Russell Wilson dumped six times by the Bears defense (12 sacks in two weeks) does not inspire confidence in the offense line. Shaquill Griffin did have two interceptions, but the defense has a lot of work to do to replace Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor,.

14. New York Giants (0-2)

Can you imagine how Tom Coughlin must be feeling after watching how dramatically the Giants have fallen in the time since he was basically pushed out as coach. The Giants have won only three of their last 18 games and there is absolutely nothing Odell Beckham Jr. can do by himself to fix things. Look, the Giants should have drafted Sam Darnold. Too bad, so sad.

15. Detroit Lions (0-2)

While on the subject of private thoughts, what must be going through the mind of rookie Lions coach Matt Patricia’s now that the New England Patriots, angered by their loss at Jacksonville last week, are next on his horizon. Patricia, the former Patriots defensive coordinator, should not expect a hometown discount from his former boss, Bill Belichick, on Sunday Night Football.

16. Arizona Cardinals (0-2)

The Cardinals have been outscored 58-6 this season. Look up “laughing stock. There they are. Rookie coach Steve Wilks may have even more problems than Patricia at the moment, which is not good. At this point, maybe the Birds should considered giving first-round pick Josh Rosen a few snaps. Sam Bradford has pretty much hit his ceiling, don’t you think?

 

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