NFC Overview: Week 8

The Super Bowl contenders are separating themselves in the Conference. The Saints, Packers, and 49ers all proved once again that they have what it takes to represent the NFC in February.  The second tier, headlined by the Seahawks, is still a bit murky, but the Vikings, Rams, and Cowboys are rebounding after some question marks earlier this year.  See how each division stands and the updated power rankings for this week below.

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers (6-1)

Aaron Rodgers had a historic day on Sunday.  He had a perfect passer rating (first time in Packers’ history) and accounted for 6 touchdowns (5 passing/1 rushing).  The Packers are firing on all cylinders right now, and a huge road test against the Chiefs awaits in Week 8.  The Chiefs will be without Patrick Mahomes, and Davante Adams should be back for the Packers.

 2. Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

The Vikings were tested by the Lions, but ultimately pulled away to secure their first divisional victory.  Despite a 1-2 divisional record, the Vikings still have 3 home games against the NFC North ( where they are 3-0 this year).  Kirk Cousins is playing some of the best football of his career lately and the Vikings remain just a game back of the Packers.  With the Redskins coming to Minnesota this week, a (likely) victory could put them even with the Packers who may lose in Kansas City.

3. Chicago Bears (3-3)

The Bears’ season is at a breaking point.  Putting on one of the most embarrassing performances of the season this season, the Bears offense failed to get anything going, committing 2 turnovers and 6 three-and-outs.  Mitchell Trubisky continued to struggle and Matt Nagy received harsh criticism for only calling 7 run plays, amounting to 17 rush yards.  With the Chargers coming to Soldier Field in Week 8, the Bears have a favorable chance to get back on track.  A loss may end any playoff hopes and waste another season with a top 10 defense.

4. Detroit Lions (2-3-1)

Detroit played another very tough game against the Vikings, but weren’t able to pull off the upset.  This Lions team is very talented, but their record juts doesn’t match it.  I’m not ready to write them off as a playoff team, but they need to start stringing together a few wins if they want to make a push.  The first step would be to take care of the Giants at home this week.

NFC WEST

1. San Francisco 49ers (6-0)

The 49ers won an ugly game in Washington 9-0 this past week.  The rain had a huge impact on the game so it is tough to take away much of anything from this game except for the road victory for the ‘Niners.  Although the hot start is refreshing in San Francisco, the second half of the season doesn’t have many weak opponents.  This week the 49ers play host to the Panthers who are 4-2 and fresh off of their bye week.  After a gritty win in Week 7, a letdown wouldn’t be that surprising.

 2. Seattle Seahawks (5-2)

The Seahawks got roughed up on Sunday against the Ravens, and Russell Wilson finally looked human again.  Even with this tough loss, the Seahawks are still a dangerous team and have plenty of opportunities to win this division.  The best news for Seattle is getting to play the Falcons this week to secure a bounce back win.

3. Los Angeles Rams (4-3)

The Rams embarrassed the Falcons in Atlanta last Sunday, and looked similar to the Rams we have become used to seeing each week.  At 4-3, the Rams can still find a way to win the division, although a wildcard seems like the probable playoff route for L.A.  For Week 8, the Rams host the winless Bengals as they look to start a much needed win streak.

4. Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1)

At the bottom of the division is the Cardinals who have won 3 straight and look dangerous.  Kliff Kingsbury is utilizing Kyler Murray well, and the young quarterback is playing within himself and making the plays he was brought in to make.  Although nobody really considered the Cardinals a playoff team with a new head coach and rookie quarterback at the beginning of the year, they have an opportunity to sneak in.  Every victory is precious at this point, but a visit to New Orleans this week makes that a tough task.

NFC EAST

1.Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

The Cowboys looked very good on Sunday night and made easy work of the Eagles.  With the conference having so many teams (10) at .500 or better, it looks like the only payoff team from the NFC East will be the division winner.  Dak Prescott bounced back in Week 7 and needs to continue to build on this against the Giants in Week 8 if the Cowboys really want to prove that they are the best team in the division.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)

The Eagles are sliding fast.  The season is looking all but over after their Sunday Night performance.  Carson Wentz looked horrible and the defense came nowhere close to stopping the Cowboys’ offense.  If the Eagles want any hope restored in their playoff chances they MUST WIN in Buffalo this week. 

3. New York Giants (2-5)

The Giants lost to the Cardinals this past week in the battle of rookie quarterbacks. Daniel Jones needs to continue his positive development and Saquon Barkley returning will certainly help that. If this offense can stay healthy and make strides towards the end of this season, the Giants will be one wide receiver away from being a dangerous offense next year. In Week 8 New York travels to Detroit where both teams are still searching for their third win of the year.

 4. Washington Redskins (1-6)

The Redskins lost again at home.  The Redskins have nothing to lose and should start playing Haskins now. If he begins to play well, fans will have some hope heading into next season. If he doesn’t get any more experience this year, the 2020 season could be another year of growing pains in Washington.

NFC SOUTH

1.New Orleans Saints (6-1)

The Saints dominated the Bears in Week 7 and this team is running like a well-oiled machine right now.  After Drew Brees’ injury many people wrote off the Saints, but now 5 straight wins have kept them near the top of the conference and Drew Brees is almost ready to return.  There are rumors of him practicing this week, and has not been ruled out for their game against the Cardinals this week, but it seems more likely he will return in Week 10 after the Saints’ bye week.  Nonetheless, Teddy Bridgwater and Sean Payton deserve all the credit for keeping this team from falling apart after losing Brees in week 2.

2. Carolina Panthers (4-2)

The Panthers come out of their bye with a big game awaiting in Week 8 against the 49ers.  A win would put the Panthers on everyone radar as a serious playoff team. A loss would continue the Panthers’ season on this path of mediocrity it is seemingly already on.  Cam Newton is rumored to start practicing again, but will not play in Week 8.  With Kyle Allen still undefeated as the starter, who knows if this job still belongs to Newton when he is finally healthy.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)

The Bucs enjoyed their bye in Week 7 and now travel to Nashville to play the Titans.  This is definitely a winnable game, but thats assuming Jameis Winston avoids another 5 interception game. A few weeks ago, this game looked like the awaited the rematch of Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, but with Mariota on the bench, we will have to settle for Winston v Tannehill. 

4. Atlanta Falcons (1-6)

The Falcons lost yet again to the Rams in Week 7, making it 5 in a row. Wide Receiver Mohamed Sanu was traded this week, and it may be the start of a larger unload in Atlanta.  This team needs to fix its defense, as they rank 27th in total defense.  Hosting the Seahawks this week will likely be another loss, especially if Matt Ryan remains on the sidelines.

NFC POWER RANKINGS (Week 7 Ranking)

  1. New Orleans Saints (1)
  2. Green Bay Packers (4)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (3)
  4. Seattle Seahawks (2)
  5. Minnesota Vikings (6)
  6. Los Angeles Rams (8)
  7. Dallas Cowboys (11)
  8. Carolina Panthers (9)
  9. Detroit Lions (7)
  10. Chicago Bears (5)
  11. Philadelphia Eagles (9)
  12. Arizona Cardinals (14)
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12)
  14. New York Giants (13)
  15. Atlanta Falcons (14)
  16. Washington Redskins (16)
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