Every week during the NFL season, Tiebreaker.com will present our conference power rankings. The AFC will be on Tuesday, the NFC on Wednesday.
The latest from the NFC indicates the Los Angeles Rams’ defense may have finally caught up to their offense.
1). Los Angeles Rams
Despite being known for their offense, the Rams are beginning to become a multi-dimensional team. Just as important as Cooper Kupp (career-high 11 receptions) was to last Sunday’s win in Cleveland was the goal-line stand in the fourth quarter that preserved the win. The Rams drove Baker Mayfield nuttier than he already is.
2). Dallas Cowboys
With the possible exception of the Patriots, no team is as comfortable in their division right now than the Cowboys. They are 3-0 for the first time since 2008 and don’t appear to have any major shortcomings. They did put a little scare into their fans by letting the Dolphins stay so close in the first half, but Dak Prescott (two touchdown passes, one rushing) quickly took care of that.
3). New Orleans Saints
Winning in Seattle is never easy. Winning in Seattle with a backup quarterback is even more difficult. But Teddy Bridgewater has more experience than many current NFL starters and he skillfully carried the Saints to a win in his first full game since Drew Brees injured his thumb. As long as the Saints have Alvin Kamara (161 total yards on Sunday) they will control the NFC South.
4). Green Bay Packers
At some point, the Packers offense is going to get rolling again and Aaron Rodgers will add to his 342 career TD passes. It’s only a matter of time. Until then, the Packers seem to have a defense capable enough of carrying them. Led by linebacker Blake Martinez, who had 12 tackles, they drove Broncos QB Joe Flacco to distraction.
5). San Francisco 49ers
We’re not ready to compare this team to anything we saw during the Joe Montana-Steve Young years, but they are 3-0 for the first time since 1998. And that’s the case even though they tried as hard as they could to blow last week’s game against the Steelers by turning the ball over (and over) inside their own 20. They get an early bye week to take it all in.
6). Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll should have known it was going to be a bad day when he got plunked in the nose by an errant pass during pregame workouts. He needed stitches to close the wound. But that didn’t hurt as much as losing for the first time at home in September on his watch. But we still value the Seahawks because of Russell Wilson. On Sunday, he became the first QB since 1950 to throw for 400 yards, have two TD passes, rush for 50 yards with two TDs.
7). Detroit Lions
We’ve been pretty hard on Lions coach Matt Patricia. Before the season, we even speculated he could be fired after it was over. Well, we’d like to roll that back for a moment. The 2-0-1 Lions have been resourceful and opportunistic. They beat the Eagles on the road, getting a great performance from defenders like Trey Flowers and Damon (Snacks) Harrison. But oh man, here come the Chiefs.
8). Chicago Bears
Its time everyone lightens up a little bit on Mitchell Trubisky. So he’s not Patrick Mahomes. Maybe he’s not even Alex Smith. But he’s good enough to take the Bears where they need to be and he showed it Sunday be engineering a 28-0 halftime lead in Washington with three TD passes. Of course, we love Chicago’s defense a lot more.
9). Minnesota Vikings
We’ve gone over this before: The Vikings seriously overpaid QB Kirk Cousins. Can we all agree on that? It’s clear after three weeks the best player on the team is Dalvin Cook. The NFL’s leading rusher already has 375 yards, the big reason the Vikings are averaging 193.7 per game. Pay the man now or pay the man later.
10). Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles lack their wings. Injured receivers do nothing but slow down Carson Wentz, who has thrown 76 TDs in his first 43 games (the fifth fastest all-time). The receivers they have, continue to make huge drops in crucial situations that have cost them at least one win in Atlanta. Maybe they should just focus on getting the ball to Zach Ertz. He has more receptions than any NFL tight end since 2013.
11). Atlanta Falcons
When Brees was injured, the natural assumption was the Falcons were back in the driver’s seat in the NFC South. We now know that assumption was premature. There is something seriously wrong with this team, particularly in the first half. They committed 16 penalties on Sunday in their loss to the Colts. That was more than even Matt Ryan (29-of-34, 304 yards) could compensate for.
12). New York Giants
We don’t understand why everyone is calling rookie QB Daniel Jones “Danny Dimes.” What are we missing here? All we care about is the NFC called him its offensive player of the week after his spectacular debut in Tampa when he became the first rookie since 1970 to throw for 300 yards, throw for TDs and run for two TDs in the same game. One question: How do they make up for the loss of Saquon Barkley?
13). Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jones managed to overshadow one of the best performances ever by Jameis Winston. He threw for 380 yards and three TDs, dropping a beautiful pass into Mike Evans’ hands late in the fourth quarter to set up what should have been a game-winning field goal. Oh well. Maybe if Shaq Barrett keeps sacking QBs, the Bucs might win once in a while.
14). Carolina Panthers
This might seem unfair, even perhaps a bit cruel, but we actually believe the Panthers offense is now in better hands with Kyle Allen at QB instead of Cam Newton. Allen played really well against Arizona last week, throwing for four TDs. Did you know he’s just the second QB in the Super Bowl era with at least six TD passes and no interceptions in his first two starts?
15). Washington Redskins
For those of you scoring at home, the Grudens are 1-5 this season. One of them (Jon) has $100 million reasons to believe he’s not getting fired. The other (Jay) should avoid eye contact with team owner Daniel Synder, the fastest gun in the NFC. The Redskins have a receiver, Terry McLaurin, who is the first player in NFL history to have at least five catches and one TD in each of his first three games. That’s about the nicest thing we can say about them right now.
16). Arizona Cardinals
Do you think Kyler Murray wishes he was playing center field right now for the Oakland A’s? It’s quite possible. The road to respectability might be a lot longer than he suspected in Arizona. Did you see his stat line from Sunday? He completed 30 passes for just 173 yards. ESPN tells us that’s the fewest yards compiled with at least 30 completions in the Super Bowl era. Air Raid? Air Charade.