NFC Overview: Week 5

With Week Four in the books, we’ve gained some more clarity on which teams will be playoff contenders come January.  As it stands now, the conference looks very competitive with a log jam of teams at 3-1.  Some teams impressed, and others didn’t show up. Here is the Week 5 overview in the NFC with the updated Power Rankings below.

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers (3-1)

The Packers had a tough game against the Eagles on Thursday night, and Carson Wentz and his squad delivered. Beating Rodgers and the Packers in Lambeau is tough to do especially in a short week. The offense looked a little better, but still has room to improve. The Packers would have loved the 4-0 start but are still sitting atop the NFC North heading into a big game against the Cowboys this week.

2. Chicago Bears (3-1)

The Bears won a huge divisional game against the Vikings on Sunday despite being without 3 defensive starters, a starting offensive lineman, and Mitchell Trubisky.  On the first drive Trubisky went down with a shoulder injury and backup Chase Daniel came into the game and played very well.  The Bears defense overpowered the Vikings in every aspect and showed why the Bears can be a Super Bowl contender despite the uncertainty on offense.  Next up is a trip to London to face the Raiders.  Trubisky will not play in Week 5.  The early indication is a dislocated shoulder, but he will not need surgery.

3. Detroit Lions (2-1-1)

Although the Lions were not able to pull off the upset against the Chiefs, they definitely proved that they are no pushover.  In recent years the Lions have been mediocre at best, usually at the bottom of the NFC North.  After the start through four games, folks in Detroit are very excited.  Yes, the loss does bump them in the standings, but in the large scope, the Lions took large steps this past week.  To get back in the win column, the Lions will have to wait until their trip to Lambeau field in two weeks on Monday Night Football after their bye. 

4. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

The worst performance on Sunday belonged to the Vikings.  I understand they played the Bears’ defense on the road, but that’s no excuse for the pitiful effort they put out.  The offense certainly has some soul searching to do after this one.  Even though their rushing game should bounce back against the Giants, we found out how bad the Vikings pass attack is.  Kirk Cousins is essentially stealing from the Vikings with his forgettable performances in primetime games.  Next week the Vikes head to New York, which is looking like a much tougher game than many originally thought after the emergence of Daniel Jones.

NFC WEST

1. San Francisco 49ers (3-0)

The 49ers took Week 4 off and benefitted from the Rams loss.  San Francisco sits atop the NFC West and is the lone unbeaten team in the conference. This Monday the 49ers host the Browns who impressed many with their win on Sunday in Baltimore.  A Monday night win at home to improve to 4-0 will surely boost their stock and put them into serious playoff talks.

2. Los Angeles Rams (3-1)

The Rams were the biggest surprise of the weekend…in a bad way.  The offense looked out of sync, Todd Gurley only rushed for 16 yards, and Jared Goff turned the ball over four times.  Although the Buccaneers gave the Rams a few chances to get back into the game, a better opponent would almost certainly not allow for those opportunities.  A loss at home giving up 55 points is a real gut-check, and the Rams need to do some soul searching.  This comes at a horrible time, as the Seahawks await Thursday night in Seattle.

3. Seattle Seahawks (3-1)

The Seahawks beat up on the Cardinals this past week.  Russel Wilson is playing some of the best football of his career (must be the fat paycheck) and the Seahawks are right in the thick of things at 3-1.  The biggest concern with the Seahawks is their weak schedule to open the season.  The three wins have come against teams with a combined record of 1-10-1.  This Thursday they welcome the Rams for a pivotal division matchup that could loom large come December. 

4. Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1)

On Sunday the Cardinals got a real taste of how far away they form being competitive.  This organization is focused on piecing together a roster to compete for division titles in a few years.  For now,  developing Kyler Murray and seeing if Kliff Kingsbury is the right fit are the top priorities.  This week they travel to Cincinnati where they will play the winless Bengals. 

NFC EAST

1.Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

The Cowboys played a tough game in New Orleans but fell short despite scoring the game’s only touchdown.  The offense looked a bit confused at times and had trouble establishing the run game.  Although there were questions surrounding the Cowboy’s ability to compete against playoff-caliber teams, they definitely proved that they should still be considered a top team in the conference. Putting up a close game in New Orleans is a tough feat with or without Drew Brees suited up. The road doesn’t get much easier though, as the Packers come to Dallas next Sunday looking for a bounce-back win.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)

The Eagles put on one of the more impressive performances of Week 4.  Even with some injuries, and a Thursday night game on the road, the Eagles came out and weathered the storm from the Packers.  In the second half, they made some big plays and despite some questionable play calls from the Packers late in the game, the Eagles rose up to the challenge and picked-off Aaron Rodgers to seal the road win.  This seemed to be a turning point for the Eagles who were sort of spiraling.  Now, they look like they will give the Cowboys a run for the division crown.  This week the Eagles host the Jets looking to build off of Thursday’s progress.

3. New York Giants (2-2)

Daniel Jones is 2-0! The Giants took down the Redskins rather easily on Sunday and are back at the .500 mark.  Daniel Jones didn’t look quite as sharp this week, but a win is a win.  The Vikings are coming in this week, and getting to 3-2 seems a bit more doable, especially after the Vikings performance in Chicago.  Despite the rough start, the Giants’ season is still alive and well.

4. Washington Redskins (0-4)

…Fire Gruden and move on.  An all-time horrible coaching move putting your rookie quarterback into the middle of a game on the road.  The Redskinds should move on from Gruden and find someone to develop Haskins.  This franchise is scrambling right now and the fan base is uneasy.  Oh, and the Patriots come to town on Sunday as 16 point favorites.  Prayers go out to Redkins faithful everywhere.

NFC SOUTH

1.New Orleans Saints (3-1)

No Drew Brees? No problem.  The Saints took care of the Cowboys Sunday night and look like they will be just fine until Brees returns.  Nobody expected the Saints to be 2-0 after losing Brees (especially with their schedule) but here they are at 3-1 with a home contest with the Bucs to get to 4-1.  When Brees does come back, it will be hard to say they aren’t the team to beat in the NFC.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2)

The Bucs won a big game in L.A. on Sunday and looked pretty good while doing it. There were still some defensive issues and a pick-six thrown which opened the door up to the Rams, but they got the win.  There is definitely room to improve still, but with each week it seems less and less improbable to see the Bucs snag a wildcard spot. Remember, this team is a missed field goal away from being 3-1.  The Bucs now have a trip to New Orleans where a win would put them in first place.

3. Carolina Panthers (2-2)

The Panthers didn’t play particularly well this past week, but they got the win against the Texans despite 3 Kyle Allen fumbles.  At 2-2 and no Cam Newton timeline, it is unclear if the Panthers can still push for a playoff spot.  For now, beating the Jaguars at home would keep them on track to make a wildcard push in December.

4. Atlanta Falcons (1-3)

The Falcons 2019 season is already a disappointment.  Many people thought they could surprise and compete with the Saints. Instead, they have made no progress and sit at the bottom of the division.  This week, they travel to Houston to face a tough Texans team.  A 1-4 start for the Falcons may turn up the heat in Dan Quinn’s seat.

 

NFC POWER RANKINGS (Week 4 Ranking)

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