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NFC power rankings: Slowing down the Jaguars helps keep the Saints on top

(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via 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 New Orleans Saints continue to hold off the red-hot San Francisco 49ers by virtue of their underrated defense.

1). New Orleans Saints

Make that four straight for the Saints since Drew Brees was hurt. They totally discombobulated Jacksonville last week. Did you know its been 32 games since their defense has allowed a 100-yard rusher? And you thought it was only about offense in New Orleans.

2). San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers picked up their biggest win in many years on Sunday in Los Angeles. They are 5-0 for the first time since 1990 and now we can stop speculating about their candidacy to win the NFC West – if not more. They held the Rams to 165 yards to join the Patriots as the NFL’s only unbeaten teams. And they did it without their best offensive linemen, Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey.

3). Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are 5-1 for the first time since 2013, the year they won the Super Bowl. So make the comparison if you would like. Russell Wilson continues to move his way to a possible MVP. He has thrown 14 touchdowns and no interceptions and has accounted for 18 TDs this season. He made it possible to bounce back from a 20-6 deficit in Cleveland.

4). Green Bay Packers

Don’t you love Aaron Rodgers? Two of his top receivers were missing on Monday night, so he went out there and made an instant star out of Allen Lazard, who caught a 35-yard touchdown pass and had four receptions in the formative fourth quarter. That’s not the only reason the Packers won. The Smith boys, Preston and ZaDarius, keep racking up the sacks.

5). Minnesota Vikings

We’re not going overboard about Kirk Cousins. Tempting, but no way.  We’re aware he torched the Eagles for 333 yards and four touchdowns and that three were to his guy, Stefon Diggs. Hey, anybody can have a big game. We’ll see where this leads us. As for Diggs, two of his TDs were from 51 and 62 and that makes him the first Vikings receiver since Randy Moss in 2000 to have two scores from at least 50 in the same game.

6). Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles really laid an egg at Minnesota last week. Their banged up secondary allowed four touchdown passes and yielded over 300 yards for the fourth time this season. Hey, this ain’t the Jets. Nobody was racking up 10 sacks this week. But that’s OK. Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said on the radio Monday that his team would go into Dallas this week and win. Good luck with that.

7). Carolina Panthers

Listen, there’s no way the Panthers could possibly bench Kyle Allen once Cam Newton is ready to return. Is there? The Panthers have won four straight under him after starting 0-2. Their offense is averaging 32.5 since he took over the team. Did you know that Allen is one of only seven QBs in the last 25 years to win their first five starts. But he’s the only one who hasn’t thrown an interception in the process.

Jason Garrett

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

8). Dallas Cowboys

How about them Cowboys?! That’s three straight losses after going 3-0 against teams with a combined record of 3-14. We realize the Cowboys fought back in the second half after trailing the Jets 21-6. But we choose to focus on the fun they allowed Sam Darnold to have in the first half. There might be no heat on Jason Garrett, but that’s maybe because Jerry Jones can’t find his matches.

9). Chicago Bears

The Bears are likely angry after losing to the Raiders two weeks ago in London. That was not a very good look, especially when they fell behind 17-0 at the half. Remember, the Bears gained only 236 yards (42 rushing) and that kind of performance is not going to get them far against the Saints this week.

10). Los Angeles Rams

The Rams have lost three straight and we know what you’re thinking: How is that possible? Well, we’d like to argue this team began rolling downhill late in the 2018 season and shouldn’t have even been in the Super Bowl. But if you want hard evidence, how about 78 yards passing from Jared Goff, four sacks and 0-for-14 on third and fourth downs against the 49ers.

11). Detroit Lions

We’d like to apologize to the Lions about Monday night’s officiating nightmare, just in case the league has lost Matt Patricia’s number. That was about as bad as it gets. But after they opened the game with a some razzle-dazzle to Kenny Golladay, the Lions turned to kicker Matt Prater to score 16 of their 22 points. And that’s not nearly good enough to beat the Packers in Green Bay.

12). Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns and added 32 rushing yards on Sunday against Atlanta, so we know the Cardinals made the right choice picking him over Josh Rosen. The kid can be exciting. And how about this: David Johnson actually has more yards and TDs receiving than he has rushing. Who had that in the over-under?

Jameis Winston

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

13). Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We think Bruce Arians might be second-guessing himself about coming back to coach because he was excited about working with Jameis Winston. The guy threw five interceptions on Sunday in London against Carolina. He now has 10 this season, just one behind the NFL leader, Baker Mayfield. He also has 68 interceptions since 2015, the most of any quarterback. Did we mention the 87 turnovers?

14). New York Giants

Giants coach Pat Shurmur is tired about being asked about moral victories, as if there’s been anything else to celebrate with this team this year. Sure, they played the Patriots tough, but Daniel Jones has a lot to learn and throwing for 161 yards and three interceptions isn’t going to get it done against the reigning Super Bowl champion.

15). Atlanta Falcons

Of all the things that could have gone wrong on Sunday, who could have guessed it would be an extra point from Matt Bryant. The guy is money. He’d never missed a conversion when he team was down by one point. Oh man, that’s four straight losses with the Rams and Seahawks coming up. Don’t blame Matt Ryan. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in all six games.

16). Washington Redskins

The good news is there’s signs of life in the nation’s Capitol. We understand the Redskins first win was against Miami, and by only one point, and they had to survive a final two-point conversion attempt. But Adrian Peterson gained 118 yards against a defense that’s allowed about 176 a game this season. And that’s progress. Hail to the Redskins!