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, the big battle for possible home field in the conference playoffs between the Packers and 49ers has everyone’s attention.
1). Green Bay Packers
The Pack took some time to rest during their bye week; the team was off from last Tuesday until Sunday. Now it’s all about getting ready for one of the most consequential games of the season on Sunday night in San Francisco. The 8-2 Packers play the 9-1 Niners and home field in the NFC playoffs could be riding on it.
2). Seattle Seahawks
No matter what happens with the 49ers on Sunday, here’s the good news for the Seahawks: No 8-2 team has missed the playoffs since the league expanded to 32 teams. There’s some comfort in knowing that. Of course, having Russell Wilson (23 touchdown passes) as your quarterback and Jadeveon Clowney terrorizing the opponents’ offense helps Pete Carroll sleep at night.
3). San Francisco 49ers
After losing to Seattle, you can imagine the terror on the faces of the 49ers fans when they fell behind Arizona by 16 points midway through the quarter. But what resulted was the biggest comeback win the team has had in eight years. Jimmy Garoppolo’s winning touchdown pass to Jeff Wilson Jr., was his fourth of the game.
4). New Orleans Saints
After being held without a touchdown in their bizarre loss to Atlanta, the Saints decided to get back to basics against Tampa Bay. And that meant feeding the ball to Alvin Kamara. Kamara had only four carries for 24 yards against Atlanta, but he picked up 75 on 13 carries and another 47 on 10 receptions against the Bucs. And now all is well on Bourbon Street.
5). Minnesota Vikings
Down 20-0 to the Broncos in the first half, with less than 50 yards of offense, the Vikings decided to speed up the pace and put the game in Kirk Cousins’ hands. The quarterback threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns in the second half and the Vikings became the first team in 97 tries to wipe out that big a halftime deficit to win. By the way, Cousins has not thrown an interception in 163 passes.
6). Dallas Cowboys
It’s pretty clear all the problems on the Cowboys lie on the defensive side of the ball. What else can one deduct after watching Dak Prescott play? He has thrown for 841 yards over the last two weeks, the best two-game sequence in team history. He’s on pace to throw for 5,154 yards. And get this: Prescott and Joe Montana are the only two QBs in league history with at least four games with 375 passing yards and two touchdowns in the first 10 games of a season.
7). Philadelphia Eagles
Their lackluster performance in the loss to the Patriots only served to reinforce the feeling the team has no passing attack. They played without Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Jordan Howard on Sunday. And the right tackle Lane Johnson was injured. That led to Carson Wentz being sacked five times and throwing for only 214 yards. What the heck, sign Antonio Brown and roll the dice.
8). Carolina Panthers
Add Panthers owner David Tepper to the list of cranky bosses. He gathered the media after the loss to the Falcons and blasted his team for its mediocrity. Their biggest problem is the regression of quarterback Kyle Allen. After such a great start in place of Cam Newton, he has thrown nine interceptions in his last four games, three in the first half against Atlanta.
9). Los Angeles Rams
Last year’s NFC champions are 6-4 after their win over the Bears and that might not be good enough to make the postseason once the 49ers/Seahawks and Packers/Vikings scenarios play out. There’s just something missing offensively, even though Todd Gurley had a bounce-back night against Chicago with a season-high 133 yards from scrimmage. Did you know the Rams had gone 23 possessions without a TD until Gurley scored late in the first half? We know, hard to believe.
10). Chicago Bears
Coach Matt Nagy was asked earlier this week if he’d consider relinquishing play-calling duties. It was a fair question. The Bears are averaging barely over 260 yards on offense since Week 8. But he said he’s sticking with it and that means he’s staying with Mitchell Trubisky, that is if the quarterback is well enough to play after being yanked in the fourth quarter in Los Angeles with a hip pointer.
11). Detroit Lions
Well, it will be another Thanksgiving Day without a meaningful game in Detroit. The Lions just can’t stop anybody. They have allowed at least 20 points eight straight weeks and 450 yards in three of their last five games. This will shock you: The Lions are actually giving up more yards per game than they did in 2008 when they were 0-16.
12). Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bruce Arians is not getting any younger, so we’d have to assume he didn’t take this head coaching job to babysit a quarterback who just can’t find the groove. We say this every week – Jameis Winston is done. He has thrown 18 interceptions, tied with Jay Cutler for second-most by a quarterback in the first 10 games of a season in NFL history. We see Teddy Bridgewater in this team’s future.
13). Atlanta Falcons
Congratulations to the Falcons for not giving up on their season when they fell to 1-7. They followed their win over the Saints with another defensive masterpiece against the Panthers. They did not allow a touchdown in either game and have 11 sacks. The bad news is that no 1-7 team has ever made the playoffs or finished with a winning record.
14). Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray had lost only three games in his life as a quarterback before coming to the NFL. Now he looks at the standings and sees his team is 3-7-1. In Arizona, this is a step forward. But for the first overall pick in the 2019 Draft, its reason for frustration, especially after blowing the 16-point lead to the 49ers.
15). New York Giants
The big news during the bye week was rookie quarterback Daniel Jones and his agent are working to trademark the kid’s nickname – “Danny Dimes”- in order to wrestle control from unscrupulous manufacturers making money from merchandise with his name on it. What else is there to talk about when a team has lost six straight and its best player, halfback Saquon Barkley, is coming off a one-yard performance against the Jets?
16). Washington Redskins
It was another long day in the pocket for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. He was 19-of-35 for 214 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets, but there was a lot of angst along the way. His best play was a 67-yard completion that was called back because of a penalty. The Redskins suck. They hadn’t scored a touchdown in 16 quarters before Haskins’ two TD throws in the fourth quarter.