Tonight’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals feature the NFC West battling it out on center stage.
But before we get to that melee, here are my takes on where each team stands after last week’s games.
1. Seattle Seahawks (5-1) Last week: 1
Seattle won 20-13 last week against Tennessee albeit in a very ugly fashion. Richard Sherman sealed the deal with a late interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick. As we all know it is hard to win at Quest Field with the 12th man in full roar. Seattle remains the top spot this week and should be able to handle a struggling Arizona ballclub regardless of it being on the road this week.
2. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) Last week: 3
San Fran moves up this week due to a dominating performance last weekend against Arizona and with a little help from an uncharacteristically conservative Saints team. It does appear that the Niners are getting into a groove while also trying to get a little healthier. A trip to Tennessee this weekend shouldn’t provide any bumps towards their fifth win in trying to keep pace with Seattle.
3. New Orleans Saints (5-1) Last week: 2
The New Orleans Saints lost a heartbreaker last weekend at Foxboro. Tom Brady struggled most of the game, but found his mark with five seconds to go to capitalize and get the Pats a win. The Saints fall this week due to a number of things: Possibly losing superstar TE Jimmy Graham to an injury, Sean Payton going conservative to try to hold on to a victory, and that defense exposed when it mattered most.
4. Detroit Lions (4-2) Last week: 5
Detroit looked in trouble last weekend against Cleveland. Calvin Johnson still looks nowhere near his invincible self and the Lions found success in an unlikely source in Joseph Fauria with 3 TD catches. The defensive line still can’t stop the run but with injuries out in Green Bay they may be the NFC North favorite for the time being. A very tough test in Cincinnati will travel to Ford Field this Sunday as well.
5. Chicago Bears (4-2) Last week: 6
Da Bears, quiet as its kept, seemingly struggled with the Giants last Thursday. Maybe you chalk that up to the short week of preparation. I chalk it up to the fact that Eli Manning continuously cost his team games. The Bears capitalized on his mistakes enough to secure a win. A trip out to lowly Washington should keep the Bears in the win column this weekend and on pace with Detroit and Green Bay in the North.
6. Green Bay Packers (3-2) Last week: 4
Green Bay is in a peculiar situation. The defense is playing pretty much lights out right now. The offense just can’t catch a break losing top notch wide receiver Randall Cobb for 6-8 weeks with a fractured fibula, and no timetable for James Jones‘ return from a sprained PCL. Injuries keep mounting with this team as Nick Perry now also has a foot injury. Its eerily reminiscent of the 2010 team that won the Super Bowl or could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Beating Cleveland handily while shorthanded would silence any doubters.
7. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) Last week: 7
There can’t be much said about Dallas beating Washington Sunday night. Washington is a far cry from the team it was last year. Injuries to Demarco Murray and Demarcus Ware have to be huge for America’s team. Now is the time for Tony Romo to prove that he is worth the contract extension he was given this past summer. With Dez Bryant, a healthier Miles Austin, and an emerging Terrence Williams, the Cowboys may have a three-headed passing attack to use at his disposal. Can’t lose to Philly Sunday and still be a contender right?
8. Philadephia Eagles (3-3) Last week: 9
As I stated last week, Philly’s starter should be Nick Foles. Foles abused a very stingy Tampa Bay defense last Sunday en route to a 3 TD passing performance. He may not be Mr. Mobile like Michael Vick, but Foles brings a more trustworthy decision maker in the pocket. That’s something Chip Kelly’s offense needs more than anything right now. Big game this Sunday against Dallas which could see them in a tie for first place with a win at home.
9. Carolina Panthers (2-3) Last week: 11
Carolina absolutely throttled Minnesota on Sunday. Cam Newton showed us that when focused he can be explosive and a great leader. The question is when is he going to become more consistent? Carolina has talents to make some noise in the NFC, but it starts with number 1. He will get his chance this Sunday against St. Louis. A game that may be up for grabs needs to be claimed by Carolina to show they are serious.
10. Arizona Cardinals (3-3) Last week: 8
Things may hit a landslide for Arizona really quick. They could find themselves in a real deep hole with a loss against Seattle this week and against a very desperate Atlanta team coming to town the week after. They need to right the ship now and they need a better effort from Carson Palmer to do so. My guess is that won’t happen and Arizona will find themselves on a losing streak after this week.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (2-4) Last week: 14
Did anybody see a beatdown of Houston coming last week? Because I sure did not. Sam Bradford was not only efficient but he was deadly throwing for 3 TD passes. He was also helped out by a defense that we thought we would see up to this point with another pick 6 of a Houston quarterback (not Schaub thank goodness). Sunday provides the opportunity to seize some real momentum if they can beat Carolina on the road.
12. Minnesota Vikings (2-3) Last week: 12
Is it me or is there just way too much drama going on in Minnesota? The saddening loss of Adrian Peterson‘s son is terribly unfortunate, but it has opened the gates for a TMZ exclusive with parental obligations surfacing all over the place. A BLOWOUT to Carolina this past Sunday has now afforded Josh Freeman the opportunity to seal up the starting quarterback job going forward. Monday night against the Giants should provide Freeman’s ammunition or will they be the Giants’ first win? As the world turns…
13. Atlanta Falcons (1-4) Last week: 10
Atlanta is in disarray. Hopefully the bye week afforded them time to cope, as well as a strategy, to overcome the loss of Julio Jones for the season. Atlanta still has a very good ball club. A healthy Roddy White can shine again showing his previous dominance. Granted a healthy Steven Jackson would also help. They do get Tampa Bay at home Sunday which should provide some much needed confidence with a win. But winning hasn’t been easy lately in the ATL.
14. Washington Redskins (1-4) Last week: 13
Even with a bye week to get healthier for RGIII and Alfred Morris, the Redskins look like they haven’t gotten any better. With two weeks to prepare for rival Dallas, the defense still struggled and the special teams was non existent. Chicago comes to town with all sorts of confidence while Washington lacks theirs. I dare to say it but Sunday is a must win if they are going to be able to pull off any sort of repeat from last year’s winning season.
15. New York Giants (0-6) Last week: 15
The Giants put up a valiant fight against the Bears last Thursday. However, Eli Manning is still disconnected from his receivers. From ill advised throws resulting in interceptions to not being on the same page resulting in interceptions, the passing game is terrible. Tom Coughlin’s seat apparently isn’t hot enough as his team still has not responded this season. Eli is still E-LIE, but nobody is talking about that.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Glennon isn’t ready. Desean Jackson sunk Revis Island last week in a Philly win. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may as well get headed toward the Clowney sweepstakes. Except theirs won’t be on purpose. It will be because they just can’t win. So much talent there. The problem wasn’t Josh Freeman. It was Greg Schiano. The locker room is not in his favor. If I was the owner, I would cut ties now and get the interim involved after this week if they lose.