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NFC power rankings: Thomas has been quite the catch

MIchael Thomas

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

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

This week in the NFC, the Saints are holding the top spot after another remarkable performance by Drew Brees and Michael Thomas.

1). New Orleans Saints

Whatever happens to the Saints from now on will not diminish the record-breaking season Michael Thomas has had. He caught 13 passes for 136 yards against Tennessee last week to give him 145 receptions this season. That’s two more than Marvin Harrison’s previous single-season record in 2002. Thomas also has the most receiving yards (5,475) of any receiver in the first four seasons of their career.

2). Green Bay Packers

The Packers really have not played like gang busters the last month, but with the exception of their big loss to the 49ers, it really hasn’t hurt them. And now they are NFC North champions for the first time in three seasons. They can win home field for the playoffs if they beat Detroit and San Francisco loses at Seattle. By the way, Aaron Jones leads the league with 19 touchdown runs after getting another two against the Vikings on Monday.

3). San Francisco 49ers

The options for the 49ers are pretty cut and dried for this weekend. If they beat the Seahawks they will earn home field for the playoffs. If they lose, the Seahawks win the NFC West and the 49ers will be the fifth seed and travel to home of the NFC East champion next week. We would think the boys will be pretty motivated.

4). Seattle Seahawks

If you live long enough, just about anything can happen in the NFL. Who would have ever thought Marshawn Lynch would someday wear a Seahawks uniform again? But after Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise were hurt against the Cardinals, there was little else Seattle could do but reach out to Beast Mode, who hasn’t played since appearing in six games with the Raiders last season.

5). Minnesota Vikings

It didn’t look as if the Vikings put much effort into Monday night’s home loss to the Packers. You can’t really blame them. They are pretty banged up right now and the playoffs were guaranteed before kickoff. Still, Kirk Cousins was sacked five times and you don’t want bad habits to develop at this time of year.

6). Philadelphia Eagles

What a great win for the Eagles on Sunday against Dallas. Had they lost, they would have been eliminated from postseason contention. And now all they need to do is beat the Giants on Sunday to win the NFC East. Carson Wentz was in control, completing 31 of 40 for 319 yards and one TD. But the injuries keep piling up with the receiving corps. Now tight end Zach Ertz is hurt (fractured rib).

7). Dallas Cowboys

Since the Cowboys started the season 3-0, they’ve been a pretty mediocre team, one that really doesn’t deserve to be a division champion. Their loss in Philadelphia put them on the brink of extinction, no matter what they do on Sunday against the Redskins. Every week, Jerry Jones faces the media and tries to explain what’s happened to his team. And nothing seems to make sense.

Sean McVay

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

8). Los Angeles Rams

One year after winning the NFC Championship – and losing the Patriots in the Super Bowl – the Rams were eliminated from the playoffs with last week’s overtime loss to the 49ers. Rams coach Sean McVay, one year ago the league’s boy wonder, was left exasperated. All he could do was say it was sickening. The Rams are now just the second team since 2009 to lose a Super Bowl and not make the playoffs in the next season.

9). Chicago Bears

You had to figure the focus of last Sunday night’s Bears-Chiefs game would be that the Bears passed up on Patrick Mahomes to select Mitchell Trubisky second overall in 2017 Draft. And it was. Comparisons were made the entire night, especially when Mahomes began to take control. Meanwhile, Trubisky was 18 of 34 for 157 yards and booed off the field. What can you say except the Bears are sorry?

10). Atlanta Falcons

If the Falcons are smart, they will hold onto coach Dan Quinn and not be all over-reactionary about the team’s bad start. Hey, it happens sometimes. The Falcons have looked pretty good over the last month and they had little trouble dispatching of the Jaguars with Matt Ryan throwing for 384 yards and Julio Jones making 10 receptions for 166. The Falcons will bounce back in 2020.

11). Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here is our weekly Jameis Winston update. Without his top receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, the QB looked helpless against the Texans throwing for another four interceptions. That’s 28 for the season, the most in the league since Brett Favre tossed 29 in 2005. Even worse, six of those interceptions have resulted in pick sixes. Just awful.

 12). Arizona Cardinals

Nothing that’s happened this season to the Cardinals can match the excitement of taking down the Seahawks 27-13 last week. That pretty much makes their year. Even though Kyler Murray hurt his hamstring, the offense looked strong behind Kenyan Drake, who gained 166 yards with another two TDs. Drake has six scores in his last two games

13). Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have been talking to former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, which makes sense. He’d been perfect for  them. And why wouldn’t McCarthy want to coach Christian McCaffrey? The guy is amazing. His 109 receptions this season are the most by a running back in league history and he’s the first back to ever have multiple seasons with at least 100 catches.

Daniel Jones

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

14). New York Giants

It’s hard to say whether the Giants will fire Pat Shurmur after just two seasons. But if they need evidence of progress to retain him, rookie QB Daniel Jones provided it against the Redskins by throwing for 352 yards and five touchdowns in the 41-35 overtime win. Not only that, but reigning rookie of the year, Saquon Barkley, gained 189 yards rushing. It was a great day for the Big Blue’s offense.

15). Detroit Lions

The Lions have lost eight in a row to drop to 3-11-1. It’s the worst record of any team in the Super Bowl era that had not lost in their first three games. The Ford family said last week coach Matt Patricia will be back for 2020. Fine with us. But the only thing that’s guaranteed him is a top five draft pick. The Lions now sit at No. 3.

16). Washington Redskins

This season has been about finding out if rookie QB Dwayne Haskins has what it takes. Earlier in the season, there was a lot of doubt. He pretty much sucked. But you can see some progress. He completed his first 10 passes against the Giants on Sunday and went 12 of 15 for 133 yards and two TDs in the first half. But he hurt his ankle later in the game and will not play on Sunday against Dallas. But all in all, he hasn’t been horrible, unlike Josh Rosen.