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NFC power rankings: Losses by the Saints and 49ers propel the Pack to the peak

Aaron Rodgers

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Every week during the NFL season, Tiebreaker.com will present our conference power rankings. The AFC will be on Tuesday, the NFC on Wednesday.

This week in the NFC, the Packers take advantage of messy games from the Saints and 49ers to take the top spot.

1). Green Bay Packers

In the season’s first snow globe setting at Lambeau Field, the Packers moved up to the top spot in the power rankings thanks to a satisfying win over the Panthers, one wrapped up by wrapping up Christian McCaffrey at the goal line on the game’s last play. Aaron Smith scored three more touchdowns and now has 14. And to celebrate his 10th sack of the season, Preston Smith is buying everyone on the defense a Rolex. Life is good.

2). Seattle Seahawks

So many things went right for the Seahawks on Monday in San Francisco, many courtesy of the neglectfulness of the 49ers, of course. But three things stick out: Russell Wilson’s 18-yard scramble on third-and-3 in overtime, Jason Myers’ game-winning 42-yard field goal and the relentlessness of Jadeveon Clowney on defense. Seattle is now set up to challenge for the NFC West.

3). San Francisco 49ers

Had Chase McLaughlin’s 47-yard attempt been good in overtime, the narrative would be a lot different today. But it wasn’t. So the focus will be on the three turnovers that led to 21 Seahawks points, the five sacks allowed, the three incomplete passes deep in their territory in overtime that killed only 14 seconds and gave Seattle one more chance to win. Hey, no one expected 16-0. Did they?

4). New Orleans Saints

There is no excuse for losing as badly as they did last Sunday to the Falcons. Championship teams don’t make missteps so egregious. That explains the precipitous drop from first to fourth in our power rankings. By the way, did you know the Saints have only scored 25 points in the first quarter this season? They have one offensive touchdown – the same as the Bears, Bungles and Rams. Hmmm.

5). Minnesota Vikings

If the Packers weren’t so good, the Vikings would be on top of the NFC North right now, as opposed to headlining the wild cards. There’s no understating how big Sunday’s win over the Cowboys was. Once again, Minnesota’s offense was at the forefront, led by the elusive Dalvin Cook (183 yards from scrimmage) and critically clutch tight end Kyle Rudolph, who had two touchdown receptions in the first quarter.

6). Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles gained a lot during their bye week thanks to losses by the Rams, Panthers and Cowboys. At the very least, they are back in contention in the NFC East. But there remains a nagging problem with their receivers. DeSean Jackson is out until the playoffs which means Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are going to have to pick up their game – and hold onto the ball.

7). Dallas Cowboys

This is all turning bad very quickly for the Cowboys. Remember, they started the season 3-0 and now they’ve lost four of six and seem incapable of correcting the spiral. Once a certainty to win their division, and a favorite to play on Championship Sunday, the Cowboys are now in danger of missing the playoffs. They haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Week 13 in 2018.

8). Carolina Panthers

By now we’ve been conditioned to believe McCaffrey is capable of anything, so it was a bit disappointing to watch the Packers jam him at the line on the game’s last play. We thought for sure he’d come to the rescue again. But we’ll say this, Kyle Allen (28 of 43, 307 yards) is a pretty good quarterback and there’s no reason to believe the team is going to miss Cam Newton.

Mitchell Trubisky

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

9). Chicago Bears

Purely from the sympathetic standpoint, it was great to see Mitch Trubisky have a good game last week against the Lions. He’s taken so much crap from the fans and the media. If anyone needed three touchdown passes, and a 131.0 passer rating, it was he. The offense still sucks, but for one week it wasn’t his fault.

10). Los Angeles Rams

This is turning into a total disaster for the reigning NFC champions. Imagine that offense scoring only a field goal against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Something is fundamentally wrong here. Sure, the offensive line is injured and shaky, but how do you go through an entire game without one completion from Jared Goff to Copper Kupp? Seriously?

11). Detroit Lions

The Lions got to peek at their future without Matthew Stafford and it was not pretty. Small fractures in his back – if that’s even possible – kept him out of his first game after 136 straight starts. It wasn’t so much that Jeff Driskel couldn’t handle things (27 of 46, 269 yards), it was that Stafford wasn’t there make everything seem OK.

12). Tampa Bay Buccaneers

You would think everyone would be in the good mood after Jameis Winston threw for 358 yards in Bucs victory on Sunday. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. The organization decided to make an example out of their best cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves, by releasing him two days after they benched him for lack of hustle. Imagine what would happen if the Bucs cut someone for too many interceptions.

13). Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are headed somewhere, even if its nowhere in the standings this season. They are so much better off with Kyler Murray as their quarterback. The kid hasn’t thrown an interception since Sept. 29 and on Sunday threw for 324 yards and three touchdown passes to Christian Kirk. At least, they are exciting to watch.

14). Atlanta Falcons

Up from the basement fly the mighty Falcons after their unexpected trouncing of the Saints. We’d say what took you so long. Remember that defense that couldn’t rush the quarterback, that has only seven sacks this season? Well, on Sunday they decked Drew Brees six times and hit him 11 times. Now let’s see how they look against the Panthers.

Saquon Barkley

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

15). New York Giants

They lost to the Jets. We repeat: They lost to the Jets! That’s six straight defeats for this waste management project. Last year’s rookie of the year, Saquon Barkley, had one yard rushing against the fearsome (we’re kidding) Jets defense. Daniel Jones now has thrown eight interceptions and lost nine fumbles. By the way, Pat Shurmur’s winning percentage as an NFL coach is .288, including 7-19 with the Giants.

16). Washington Redskins

Look, what do the Redskins have to lose by starting Dwayne Haskins at quarterback for the remainder of the season? It can’t get any worse than it is. Like Ryan Finley in Cincinnati, Washington needs to find out what they have in the rookie. And if its more of 15-of-22 for 144 yards, like he produced in his first start against Buffalo, this could be a big problem for the organization.