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NFC power rankings: Saints ride the Brees to the top

Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates his 540th career touchdown pass,

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/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 climb back into first place thanks to one of the greatest performances in NFL history by a quarterback.

1). New Orleans Saints

In this celebratory year, the 100th in NFL history, we all have opinions about who the greatest quarterback in league history has been. You could do a lot worse than pick Drew Brees. Already the career-leader is passing yards, Brees passed Peyton Manning in career touchdown passes by chucking No. 541 against the Colts. And lest we forget, he also set a league record for single-game completion percentage by connecting on 29 of 30 passes.

2). Seattle Seahawks

The last thing any team needs at this time of the year is a major distraction and unfortunately for the Seahawks they now have one. Receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended indefinitely for again abusing performance enhancing and recreational drugs. In case you’ve lost track, that’s the sixth time he has been sanctioned. Now his teammates get to answer all the questions about this while they try to hang onto first place in the NFC West.

3). San Francisco 49ers

We know the 49ers haven’t exactly been invincible lately. You just can’t lose to this year’s version of the Falcons and after starting the season 8-0, they are 3-3 in the last six and now tied with the Seahawks for first. But here’s the thing: According to ESPN, the Niners are the first team since the 2000 Eagles to win at least 10 games and lost at least three in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime. Consider how close they’ve been to perfection.

4). Green Bay Packers

Their business-like 21-13 win over the Bears on Sunday was just the latest example of how blasé this team has looked over the last month. It began with a blowout loss to the 49ers and then continued through two listless wins over the Giants and Redskins. What would we be saying if the Bears were able to connect on one more lateral on their game-ending hook-and-ladder that almost ended up in the Packers end zone?

5). Minnesota Vikings

There is a potential problem on the horizon. Dalvin Cook’s shoulder injury, sustained during the Vikings’ 39-10 romp over the Chargers, will likely keep him ot of the lineup at least for Monday night’s game against the Packers. That further diminishes and already thin halfback corps and puts more pressure on Kirk Cousins. But good thing for the Vikings their defense has been playing well. They forced seven Chargers turnovers and that hadn’t happened in Minnesota since the 1995 season.

6). Dallas Cowboys

We agree it seems strange a team that’s proven so problematic could be ranked so high. But have you looked at the rest of the NFC? Their big win over the Rams – their first against a team with a winning record since their Week 13 win at New Orleans in 2018 – has renewed some of the optimism that hovered when the team was 3-0.  Now they can clinch the NFC East with a win over the Eagles on Sunday. We’d say it’s about time.

7). Los Angeles Rams

It wasn’t so long ago the Rams took advantage of one of the most egregious calls in league history to win the NFC Championship. There will be no Christmas miracle this season. The 8-6 Rams need to win at San Francisco and then at home against Arizona and hope for a Vikings collapse to win a wild card. Good luck with that. Was Jared Goff worth his $110 million extension? His quarterback rating is 45.7. You tell us.

8). Chicago Bears

So after the Bears lost to the Packers last Sunday, Mitchell Trubisky mentioned to reporters he was a little confused about the team’s offensive game plan. Specifically, he wanted to know why more plays weren’t called allowing him to roam from the pocket. In Chicago, this was labeled a player-coach fued. That what you get then your team extends to 13 years the time its been since it made the playoffs in two straight seasons.

Carson Wentz

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

9). Philadelphia Eagles

Come on, admit it. You’ve watched the Eagles long enough this season to have expected the Redskins to beat them last week. It didn’t happen because Carson Wentz was able to find Greg Ward, Jr., for a 4-yard score with time dwindling that saved Philadelphia’s butt. We know the Eagles have no receivers. So where would they be without Miles Sanders, the rookie halfback from Penn State? He accumulated 172 all-purpose yards and scored two TDs.

10). Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week, we promised an update on the life and times of Jameis Winston, as unpredictable as the summer weather along the gulf coast. We have good news to report: He threw for 458 yards and four TDs in the Bucs 38-17 win over the Lions. That means Winston is the first QB in league history to throw for at least 450 yards in two consecutive games. And that’s pretty cool.

11). Atlanta Falcons

We never thought Dan Quinn was a bad coach. Sometimes things just spiral out of control during a season due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Will the Falcons retain him? Why not. When it’s all said and done, the Falcons can boast about two of the season’s biggest upsets, one over the Saints and last week’s gem in Atlanta over the 49ers. There is always hope when Julio Jones is on your side

12). Carolina Panthers

The search for Cam Newton’s possible successor heads into its second phase on Sunday against the Colts when rookie QB Will Grier makes his debut in place of Kyle Allen. Grier, who finished fourth in the 2018 Heisman voting out of West Virginia, was Carolina’s third-round pick. He’s playing because Allen has fallen off the face of the earth during the team’s six-game losing streak with 11 interceptions. Radical change is coming. Why not at QB?

13). Arizona Cardinals

You want to know what it feels like to lose? Just ask Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake. Sunday’s 38-27 win over the Browns ended a personal 14-game losing streak for Drake. He’d lost nine straight before the Dolphins dealt him to Arizona and then his first five in the desert. And Drake has himself to thank by scoring four TDs, the first Cardinals back since 1993 to do so in a game.

14). Detroit Lions

The Ford family announced this week it has decided to grant coach Matt Patricia a third season, even though this second one hasn’t been so great. The loss to Tampa was the Lions seventh straight. Of course, the Fords may not be in control for long. The hot rumor is that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, is sniffing around the franchise. We assume Bezos would get overnight delivery if he buys the team.

Urban Meyer

(Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

15). Washington Redskins

We’ll assume it was no coincidence Urban Meyer watched Sunday’s nail-biting loss to the Eagles in the box of Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Snyder is a superstar coach groupie and we can easily see him handing the keys to the guy who coached his two young offensive stars, Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin, at Ohio State. The question is, why would Meyer, a guy we hear has health problems and suffers from burnout, want to work for a nit wit like Snyder.

16). New York Giants

The team offered Eli Manning an opportunity to enjoy a perfect sendoff last week by allowing him to start one more time – perhaps, one last time – at MetLife Stadium. And the two-time Super Bowl champion delivered a win over the Dolphins, ending a nine-game losing streak, the longest for the franchise since 1976. There were tears. For some reason, we don’t think the fans feel the same about Pat Shurmur.