NFC Overview: Week 9

Week 8 brought a few teams back into playoff consideration (Lions & Eagles) but it also may have ended some other teams’ hopes (Bears & Panthers).  With 9 weeks remaining, there are still many things that can happen, but right now the conference looks like a three team race between the Saints, Packers, and 49ers.  Power Rankings are posted below, as well as predicted playoff matchups new this week.

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers (7-1)

Aaron Rodgers has found his groove in 2019.  After a lackluster 2018 with a few injuries and the firing of his old head coach, the fans in Green Bay were uncertain how this season would play out.  Fortunately for them, Aaron Rodgers is playing like an MVP candidate right now (16 Touchdowns, 2 Interceptions).  With a four game win streak, including a Week 8 win over the Chiefs in Arrowhead, the Packers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now and are looking to continue that into Week 9 against the Chargers in L.A.

 2. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

The Vikings have rattled off four in a row since their Week 4 embarrassment in Chicago. Kirk Cousins has led this charge, and Dalvin Cook continues to dominate on the ground.  With a top ten defense complimenting their offense, Minnesota looks to have a playoff spot locked down. Whether it be a wildcard position or the division crown remains to be seen.  Week 9 starts a tough 4 game stretch in which the Vikings have 3 road games against the Chiefs, Cowboys, and Seahawks.

3. Detroit Lions (3-3-1)

The Lions are a sneaky team in the NFC.  With a win against the Giants in Week 8, Detroit has moved back to .500. Matthew Stafford is having another solid season and the Lions are averaging 25.7 points per game. The Lions have a tough road test in Oakland for Week 9.  With the division crown seemingly out of reach, the Lions need almost every game in this second half to keep pace with other teams competing for the wildcard in the NFC.

4. Chicago Bears (3-4)

Things can’t get much worse for the Bears.  Mitchell Trubisky has continued to struggle and put his team (and his defense) in horrible situations.  Matt Nagy has also received heavy criticism after taking a knee and settling for a 41-yard field goal instead of trying to gain a few more yards.  Eddie Pineiro ended up missing the potential game winning kick and now the Bear’s season is all but derailed.  With such promise coming into this season, Chicago has fallen flat on their faces.  Week 9 takes the Bears to Philadelphia for a tough matchup.

NFC WEST

1. San Francisco 49ers (7-0)

In Week 8, the 49ers proved that they are the team to beat in the NFC. With a 51-13 rout of the Panthers, the ‘Niners dominated on all sides of the ball.  The defense is probably the best in the conference, and the offense is playing mistake free football and making the most of their redzone opportunities.  As Week 9 approaches, San Francisco heads to Arizona for a Thursday Night matchup against the Cardinals.  The 49ers have one of the tougher schedules in the league for the second half, so winning the games against “non-playoff caliber teams” is important going forward.

2. Seattle Seahawks (6-2)

Although the Seahawks rebounded with a win against the Falcons in Week 8, the last few games for Seattle have been shaky.  With a home game against the Buccaneers in Week 9, the Seahawks can prove themselves as one of the “Elites” in the conference.  Seattle has a difficult second half schedule, so the Seahawks need to be careful not to look past any teams.

3. Los Angeles Rams (5-3)

The Rams have won two in a row after losing three straight and are now 5-3.  Although the wins came against bad teams, it was refreshing to see the Rams look dominant again.  This week L.A. travels to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers who have won three out of four.  The Rams need to continue winning to stay close to the 49ers and leave a chance to still win the West.  A wildcard is the likely playoff route for the Rams.

4. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)

The Cardinals lost to the Saints in Week 8 and now have the 49ers coming to Arizona in Week 9.  Facing two of the best teams in the conference in back-to-back weeks will most likely derail any faint playoff hopes left in Arizona.  The Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake this week who looks to be taking over the running duties in Arizona.  Kyler Murray is continuing to develop which is a good sign as well.  2020 could be special for the Cardinals.

 

NFC EAST

1.Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

The Cowboys come off of their bye with a half game lead over the Eagles. At 4-3 the Cowboys still have some things to prove to show that they are the best team in this division.  Although they handled the Eagles rather easily in Week 7, the Cowboys have games against the Vikings and Patriots in the coming weeks which will show the true colors of this team.  For week 9, Dallas heads to New York to face the Giants in an NFC East tilt on Monday Night football

 2. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)

The Eagles beat the Bills in Week 8 and improved to 4-4.  Despite the win, the Eagles are the most inconsistent team in the NFC. You just never know what team you’re going to get each week.  With a home game against the Bears in Week 9, this is seemingly an elimination game for playoff contention. Considering the high expectations for both of these teams heading into the year, it’s a shame that there isn’t more riding on it.

3. New York Giants (2-6)

The Giants have lost four straight but Daniel Jones is developing nicely.  Jones had four touchdowns in a losing effort against the Lions.  At 2-6, the Giants are simply looking to developing their young team for the 2020 season.  Up next is the Cowboys at home on Monday night.

 4. Washington Redskins (1-7)

The Redskins lost a sloppy game to the Vikings last Thursday and fell to 1-7.  The rumors are stirring in Washington that Dwayne Haskins may make his first start in Week 9 against the Bills.  This could be the turn for the Redskins’ Franchise that puts them back on the map.

NFC SOUTH

1.New Orleans Saints (7-1)

Drew Brees made his return in Week 8 and it looks like he hasn’t missed a beat.  A win against the Cardinals isn’t all that impressive, but it was the perfect game for Brees to jump back into things for the Saints. Week 9 is the bye week for New Orleans as they will get two weeks to prepare for the Falcons at home a week from Sunday.  With Brees ,the Saints have this division locked up.

2. Carolina Panthers (4-3)

 The Panthers got embarrassed in San Francisco in Week 8.  Cam Newton will be out again for Week 9 but he may start practicing later this week.  With the Titans coming into town this Sunday, the Panthers can reinsert themselves into the NFC playoff picture with a win.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)

The Buccaneers have lost three in a row and their season is all but over.  The the Jameis Winston experiment is over and the Bucs should move on and draft another quarterback this year.  Week 9 brings a tough road game for the Bucs who have to travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks.

5. Atlanta Falcons (1-7)

Six straight losses for the Falcons has destroyed the morale in Atlanta.  With the Saints up next after the bye, the Falcons should focus on securing a top five draft pick to tighten up their defense.  Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are still in their primes and the Falcons need to make moves to salvage the offense productivity still remaining in the team.

NFC POWER RANKINGS (Week 8 Ranking)

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

Playoff Predictions

  1. New Orleans Saints *BYE*
  2. Green Bay Packers *BYE*
  3. San Francisco 49ers vs 6. Seattle Seahawks
  4. Dallas Cowboys vs 5. Minnesota Vikings
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