Last week we looked at the AFC Power Rankings for the back half of this season, now it’s the NFC’s turn. The standings are so close that almost anyone could step in and take a playoff spot this year. Other than the Eagles, no division is a runaway yet and it will be fun watching these teams battle it out to be the next Super Bowl contender.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) – Can anyone beat the Eagles? They currently sit at the top of the NFC East with a nice lead over any of the other three teams. Carson Wentz has become a force to be reckoned with as the sophomore quarterback of the Philadelphia team. Last season he finished with a touchdown:interception ratio of 16:14, now he has a 28:5 thus far into the year. The addition of former Dolphins running back, Jay Ajayi has only strengthened their game on the ground and that Philadelphia defense has only gotten more fearsome throughout the season.
2. Los Angeles Rams (8-3) -Similar to Wentz’s transformation from naive rookie to confident pro, Jared Goff spent his entire offseason training to be the leader that the Rams needed. The young quarterback has led the Rams to first place in the NFC West and has set history with the dramatic turn around from last year. Todd Gurley has emerged as an elite running back and the addition of Sammy Watkins as well as Cooper Kupp has made the receiving corp stronger than ever.
3. Minnesota Vikings (9-2) – When the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater last year, many feared the worst until Sam Bradford came in to play like a pro. Then Bradford was out this year, and Case Keenum was forced to step up despite everyone’s hesitation. The twenty-nine year old has surged from subpar backup quarterback to potential MVP candidate in only a few weeks, putting up impressive numbers to keep Minnesota at the top of the NFC North. With a 66.1% completion rating, he’s looking to try to extend the Vikings’ record with more wins despite the tough schedule ahead of them. Thankfully, Adam Thielen has emerged as one of the best receiving weapons in the league, and Dalvin Cook has stepped up as a viable running back.
4. New Orleans Saints (8-3) – After losing to the Rams last week, the Saints will look to bounce back against the Panthers to secure their first place spot in the NFC South. Unfortunately, the back half of their schedule is going to be an extremely tough ride for New Orleans to try to hold onto that top spot. Brees has a high completion rate for 2017, averaging 71.3% but has struggled with a lower quarterback rating. His lowest of the career right now, he’s averaging 59.1 for a QBR which would explain the Saints’ inconsistent offense. Thankfully, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have emerged as the playmaking running back duo that New Orleans need to stay alive into post season.
5. Carolina Panthers (8-3) – While they struggled at first entering the season, it seems like Carolina has finally figured out their formula on offense to succeed. Christian McCaffrey has emerged has a welcome addition to the Panthers, becoming a versatile running back with exceptional receiving qualities. Second in the NFC South, Carolina will have to win these upcoming games if they want to remain in playoff discussion. Right now they have the same record as the Saints, and the Falcons only trail them by one win. Cam Newton has been relatively inconsistent and the defense has struggled to make turnovers, which puts the Panthers at number five rather than higher up on the list.
The NFC has become known as housing some of the more competitive divisions in the league. This year, the NFC South is heating up as fans argue over who will wind up at the number one spot now that all of the teams are so close with their records. One thing is for sure, the finally half of this season should be some of the most entertaining football of the year.