Every week during the NFL season, Tiebreaker.com will present our conference power rankings. The AFC will be on Tuesday, the NFC on Wednesday.
This week in the NFC, we welcome a new No. 1, the Seattle Seahawks, who move up after the San Francisco 49ers lost in Baltimore. Will it last? We’ll see.
1). Seattle Seahawks
We crown a new top seed in the NFC, not so much because we believe the Seahawks are the best team, but because they beat the best – the 49ers – and now they both have the same record. Seattle did what it had to do against Minnesota. They beat illness. They survived a very weird pick six and they held off a late rally. Welcome to the top, boys.
2). San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will survive their loss at Baltimore. It was a great game decided by a clutch kick. And who knows, maybe they will get a chance to avenge it in the Super Bowl. Remember, both of the 49ers losses have come on last-second field goals. They have not been outplayed or overmatched. Now we’ll see how they do against the Saints.
3). New Orleans Saints
We’ve always heard about Taysom Hill’s versatility, how much the Saints love him and look to deploy him in different ways. We saw evidence of that on Sunday. He first blocked a punt to set up his own 3-yard touchdown run. Then he added another TD on a 30-yard gallop. The Saints wrapped up their third straight NFC South title by avenging their uncharacteristic loss to the Falcons on Nov. 10. All is well.
4). Green Bay Packers
As soon as the first snowflake fell on MetLife Stadium, you had to figure the Pack knew they were in their element. They played a crisp game in beating the Giants. Aaron Rodgers threw four TD passes, the offense scored the first three times it had the ball and the defense intercepted poor Daniel Jones three times.
5). Minnesota Vikings
Down 34-17, the Vikings staged a late rally against the Seahawks which certainly caught their attention. It finally ended on a 4th-and-3 on their 42 with 2:31 to play. But the message was delivered: The Vikings have the willpower and machinery to fight back when they need to. It’s just that the loss makes their road harder in the NFC North against the Packers. We’re all waiting for their big game in Week 16. That could be for the divisional title.
6). Los Angeles Rams
There’s little doubt the Rams have been enigmatic this season. We’ve been craving the offense that catapulted them to the Super Bowl last season. Well, it finally reappeared against the overmatched Cardinals. Jared Goff threw for 424 yards and the Rams offense gained 549 in a free-flowing effort. Robert Woods caught 13 passes for 172 yards against the NFL’s worst pass defense. But their maligned defense also sacked Kyler Murray six times and held him to 28 yards rushing. It’s about time.
7). Dallas Cowboys
At this point you’d admit its all a little embarrassing. The Cowboys loss to Buffalo on Thanksgiving was their sixth in the last nine games. If their 6-6 record wasn’t enough to lead the putrid NFC East, we’d be talking about how they were a long shot of being a wild card team. We loved what Jerry Jones said on radio Monday about how Jason Garrett will coach somewhere next season. You’ll note he didn’t say in Dallas.
8). Chicago Bears
At this point we admit we feel sorry for Mitchell Trubisky and look for ways to salute him. He had a great game on Thanksgiving against the Lions, throwing for three TD passes, including the game-winner to David Montgomery with 2:17 to play. On that final drive he sustained the possession with completions for 35 and 32 yards on third-down plays. Trubisky ended the day with 338 passing yards and the Bears have won three of four. That’s our guy!
9). Philadelphia Eagles
If the NFC didn’t suck so much we’d drop these guys much lower on the list. The Cowboys have given them many opportunities to catch and pass them in the division and the Eagles respond with stinkers, like Sunday’s loss to the lowly Dolphins. Eagles coach Doug Pederson says he’s disgusted and angry. And he should be. His defense allowed 409 yards, was called for 10 penalties and blew a two-touchdown lead in the third quarter.
10). Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have no shot at making the playoffs at 5-7, but they have won three of their last four and Bruce Arias is putting the pedal to the medal. In last week’s win over the Jaguars, he benched running back Ronald Jones for missing a blitz pickup that resulted in a strip sack of Jameis Winston. Coach is still tuned in. By the way, does any team have a better linebacker combo than Devin White and Shaq Barrett?
11). Carolina Panthers
Time ran out on Riverboat Ron Rivera Tuesday. Two days after the Panthers lost at home to Washington – the team’s fourth straight defeat – he was fired four games shy of completing his ninth season as the team’s coach. There has always been this perception that Rivera is a solid coach. Then how come he had only three winning seasons and his one Super Bowl team got blasted by the Broncos? He’ll be back – as a defensive coordinator.
12). Detroit Lions
The Lions are down to a third-string QB, David Blough, and to be honest, he didn’t play so bad against the Lions. He threw a 75-yard TD pass to Kenny Golladay with his first completion of the game and later hit Marvin Jones, Jr., for an 8-yard score. Blough threw for 280 yards. But it wasn’t enough because Matt Patricia’s defense continues to fail him. That’s five straight losses for the 3-8-1 Lions.
13). Atlanta Falcons
You really couldn’t have expected the Falcons to beat the Saints twice this season. Could you? Especially without Julio Jones. Forced to pass early, Matt Ryan (35 of 50, 312 yards) was sacked nine times. But there was a bright spot: The Falcons recovered two onside kicks in the fourth quarter, the first team in 15 years to do so. They proved to be the best offense Atlanta could muster.
14). Arizona Cardinals
The long-range vision here is to build an offense around Murray that will allow him to do the types of things Lamar Jackson is doing in Baltimore. That is what Kliff Kingsbury eventually wants to do. But it ain’t happening this year. The Cardinals were crushed by the Rams for their fifth straight loss. Murray described it as the worst loss of his life. Hey remember, no pain, no gain.
15). Washington Redskins
What’s been lost in the midst of this miserable season is just how young the Redskins are. They regularly deployed 20 players under the age of 25 during their win in Carolina, including, of course, quarterback Dwayne Haskins. But at least for this one week, it all seemed to work. Derrius Guice (129 yards) and Adrian Peterson (99 yards) helped the ‘Skins pile up 248 yards rushing. And because of it, they got another coached fired.
16). New York Giants
The Giants (2-10) have lost eight straight for the first time since 2004 are now 7-21 under coach Pat Shurmur. Its hard to find any redeeming qualities here, especially since the incumbent rookie of the year, Saquon Barkley, has had such a disappointing sophomore season. The secondary has been terrible, which was obvious watching receiver Devante Adams and his boys ring it up for four scores. This can’t be allowed to go on.