Every week during the NFL season, Tiebreaker.com will present our conference power rankings. The AFC will be on Tuesday, the NFC on Wednesday.
We continue in the NFC by warning the Rams that there’s a posse of Cowboys on their heels
1). Los Angeles Rams
They held serve by beating the Saints on Sunday, but who knows how much the loss of Drew Brees helped them along. What’s certain is the Rams are hot, even though they seem to be coddling Todd Gurley. What do they know that we don’t? If you’re looking for a difference-maker, how about receiver Cooper Kupp? His 66-yard pitch and catch was memorable.
2). Dallas Cowboys
After all the talk the last few years about how underachieving the Cowboys were, how close Jason Garrett was to being fired, we’re not going to understate how great they have looked so far. Everything is firing in sync. On Sunday, they fell behind the Redskins 7-0, then Dak Prescott hit Devin Smith, Jason Witten and Amari Cooper and all was fabulous in Dallas again.
3). Green Bay Packers
The Packers quickly jumped to a 21-0 lead against the Vikings thanks to two touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers. Then things cooled off. In the past, this might have been a big problem. But not anymore. Green Bay looks capable of winning games because of its fast and physical defense. The Pack can attack.
4). Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have one of the best run-pass mixes in the NFL. They controlled the ball for almost 36 minutes on Sunday, despite some minor injuries and mishaps along the offensive line. Of course, they played a ramshackle Steelers team that was without Ben Roethlisberger for the second half. So what? Russell Wilson threw for 300 yards again and we love Russ.
5). New Orleans Saints
This might be as high as the Saints will get for the remainder of the season. Losing Brees is a major hit for the morale of a team that has so depended on him for the last 15 years. It will be up to Teddy Bridgewater, making $7.5 million this season, to lift the team and carry them through until Brees’ thumb heels.
6). San Francisco 49ers
We remain very high on the Niners. They look like they’ve improved more than any other NFC team. They tore the Bengals apart by gaining 572 yards, 259 on the ground. Most importantly, they kept Jimmy Garoppolo upright. Not even one sack. We’ll see what they look like when in a few weeks when they play the Rams, but they should be able to beat Pittsburgh this week.
7). Detroit Lions
Ok, we hear you. The Lions aren’t that good. Perhaps you are correct. Their defense bent a lot against the Chargers last week. We’d admit the Chargers likely blew their chances of winning three or four times. But we really like what Matthew Stafford has been doing this season. And when the defense needed a big play at the end, Darius was there to Slay the Chargers with a big interception in the end zone.
8). Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan threw for 320 yards against a pretty good defense, capping the day with a beautiful screen pass that Julio Jones transformed into a 54-yard TD. It was estimated Jones reached a top speed of 20 mph. That guy can fly. The Falcons are a very good team, one poised to win the NFC South because Brees is out and the Panthers stink.
9). Philadelphia Eagles
We would have flip-flopped them with the Falcons had they won on Sunday. Carson Wentz looks like he’s back to the form he displayed in 2017 before tearing up his knee. He helped bring the Eagles back from an 11-point deficit with two of his best receivers injured. Check back with us next week after the play the Lions, especially after hearing they canceled practice Wednesday because of too many injuries.
10). Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Anytime Jameis Winston gets through a game without throwing an interception there is reason to celebrate, even though he threw for just 208 yards and one TD in Tampa’s win over the Panthers. Tampa’s coach Bruce Arians wrote a book about how to develop QBs, so we trust him to fix Winston. Until then, Todd Bowles’ defense will have to lead the way.
11). Minnesota Vikings
After watching the Vikings play their first two games, we’re left to wonder why they gave Kirk Cousins a guaranteed $84 million. Are they nuts? First, they limited him to only 10 passes in the opener against Atlanta. And then when they let him loose against Green Bay, he lofts a air ball into the end zone with the Vikings driving for the winning score that was easily intercepted. In this case, you don’t get what you paid for.
12). Chicago Bears
Before the season there were two great concerns about the Bears, QB and placekicking. But luckily for them, Mitch Trubisky had one good play in him on Sunday against the Broncos, a 25-yard completion that gave kicker Eddie Peneiro, (which rhymes with dinero, which means money) the chance to sail a game-winning 52-yarder. Now, is this sustainable?
13). Arizona Cardinals
After staging a big comeback in their opener to tie the Lions, the Cardinals fell somewhat short last week at Baltimore, which is a very good team. But that doesn’t mean we’re not impressed with Kyler Murray. He looks very comfortable and has thrown for almost 700 yards this season, 207 to the veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Are they good enough to beat lackluster Carolina? We think so.
14). Washington Redskins
They allowed 474 yards to the Cowboys on Sunday and with only one sack. They allowed Prescott to complete 26-of-30 for three TDs. They allowed the Cowboys to gain an average of 6.3 yards per carry. And they allowed their halfback, Adrian Peterson, to carry the ball only 10 times for 25 yards. There is a reason they’ve lost eight of their last nine games dating to the 2018 season.
15). Carolina Panthers
We mentioned last week that Christian McCaffrey was without a doubt the best player on this season. One clarification: We meant on offense. Linebacker Luke Kuechly is their best defender. We love them both. Aside from that, there is not much else to write home about and now Cam Newton’s foot is bothering him again and the timeline for his return is covered by clouds.
16). New York Giants
On Tuesday, the Giants announced the promotion of rookie QB Daniel Jones, thereby ending the 15-year reign of Eli Manning, who helped the franchise win two Super Bowls. By doing this, the Giants admit what we’ve known all along – the 2019 season is one of development, not results. Their defense sucks. They suck.