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NFC power rankings: Streaking Saints prepare to pass the ball back to Brees

New Orleans Saints

(Photo by Chris Graythen/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 continue to hold off the 49ers and Packers, but it’s getting tougher.

1). New Orleans Saints

Congratulations to Teddy Bridgewater who captained the Saints with aplomb during the absence of Drew Brees. Word is Brees will be ready to play this weekend against Arizona. Meanwhile, Bridgewater, who threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears last week, has likely earned himself a bundle in free agency next season.

2). San Francisco 49ers

Coach Kyle Shanahan did his best to downplay any contempt he had for the Redskins organization over the way they treated his father, Mike, their former coach. But the truth came out after San Francisco’s rain-soaked 9-0 win in Washington when Kyle gave his dad a game ball. The 49ers are 6-0 for the first time since 1990 and now has receiver Emmanuel Sanders to liven up their passing attack.

3). Green Bay Packers

It’s clear by now Aaron Rodgers has totally bought into coach Matt LaFleur’s new offense. He had one of the greatest games in his Hall of Fame career against the Raiders last week, throwing for five touchdowns and 429 yards, running for a sixth score and playing to a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating. The Pack is talking smack.

4). Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks got run over by Lamar Jackson last weekend, leading to a rare home loss. Russell Wilson was a little out of synch, completing 20-of-31 for 241 yards and throwing his first interception of the season, which was run back for a 67-yard touchdown by Ravens corner Marcus Peters. But we still have a lot of faith and they will eventually push the 49ers in the NFC West.

5). Minnesota Vikings

If Kirk Cousins’ renaissance continues for another few weeks, we will offer the Vikings quarterback a sincere apology for doubting his ability. He was spectacular again last week against the Lions, completing 24-of-34 for 337 yards and four touchdowns (for the second straight week). And the Vikings passing game has only made things easier for Dalvin Cook (142 yards) to roam.

6). Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys ended their three-game losing streak with a dominating win over the Eagles in the battle for first place in the NFC East. Dallas did not wait long to pounce, forcing turnovers on Philly’s first two drives that it turned into touchdowns. As Dak Prescott continues his contract talks, he now can tell Jerry Jones he’s rushed for more touchdowns in his career than Roger Staubach. It’s all about leverage, folks.

Ron Rivera

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

7). Carolina Panthers

Coach Ron Rivera did the right thing this week by announcing Kyle Allen will continue to be his starting quarterback over Cam Newton. Why mess with success? Sometimes in the excitement of it all we forget how great a defensive coach Rivera is. The Panthers already have 27 sacks and are on pace to break the NFL’s single-season record of set by dah-Bears in 1984. Carolina only had 35 sacks in 2018.

8). Los Angeles Rams

Jalen Ramsey made his debut on Sunday against Atlanta and we didn’t hear very much from Julio Jones. So that’s a positive for the Rams. In general, it was a good day for their defense which picked up five sacks (three by Dante Fowler) and held the Falcons to just 38 rushing yards and 224 total yards. Now its off to England to play the winless Bumbles, uh, Bengals.

9). Philadelphia Eagles

Maybe coach Doug Pederson’s guarantee the Eagles would beat the Cowboys came back to slap them in the face. The Cowboys seemed to downplay that angle after the game. We think they lost because they allowed 189 yards rushing and fell behind again 14-0. This was the sixth time in seven games the Eagles had been down double digits early. It’s time for Carson Wentz to play like an MVP.

10). Chicago Bears

The heat is really on Mitch Trubisky now. Bears fans have tried giving the former second overall pick the benefit of the doubt. Now after Sunday’s loss to the Saints, his first game since Sept. 29, they are begging the front office to sign Bridgewater in the offseason. Trubisky threw 54 times and accumulated only 251 yards. Geez, the best offense the Bears had was Cordarrelle Patterson’s 102-kickoff return.

11). Detroit Lions

It looked like the Lions might compete for a division title. But that seems a long shot after losing to the Vikings and seeing how well the Packers are playing. But you’ve got to give some love to Marvin Jones, who caught four touchdown passes. He’s one of only four receivers to have more than one four-touchdown game. Jones also became the first player in league history to have four touchdowns and less than 100 (93) receiving yards in a game.

12). Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs are coming off their bye week and you can only hope coach Bruce Arians has seen something on video he can apply to the real problem he has with quarterback Jameis Winston. Arians is sticking with him, even after he threw five interceptions two weeks ago against the Panthers. While he’s at it, Arians might also try to fix the league’s worst pass defense (304.5).

Chase Edmonds

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

13). Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals won their third straight last week on the road to the Giants and that’s got everyone thinking that maybe Kliff Kingsbury has helped the team turn the corner. What became clear in New York was he has a guy to go to if David Johnson continues to be out. Fordham’s Chase Edmonds ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns to become one of only seven Cardinals to do that in the last 31 seasons. One other thing: Chandler Jones’ four sacks give him 8 ½ this season.

14). New York Giants

After watching the way Daniel Jones played in his debut at Tampa Bay, Giants fan were giddy thinking he had what it takes to get them back in business. He might have what it takes, but he doesn’t have it right now. The kid quarterback threw one interception and lost two fumbles against the Cardinals and that just won’t cut it. That’s six touchdowns and seven interceptions for Jones.

15). Washington Redskins

It was painful watching the Redskins trying to get something accomplished against the 49ers. The game was just one big sloppy puddle for them. Case Keenum threw for only 77 yards and Adrian Peterson lost a big fumble at the San Francisco 20. We should have known they were in trouble when they missed a 39-yard field goal to end their first drive.

16). Atlanta Falcons

Watching Matt Ryan limp off the field in the fourth quarter seemed to perfectly epitomize the Falcons season. This is one hurting bunch after five straight defeats have dropped them to 1-6. They are putting absolutely no pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They have just five sacks this season, none in the last four games. No wonder owner Arthur Blank now has a magnifying class hovering over the coaching staff.