Continuing on from the AFC Edition…..
As quoted by TheCoLA previously, “The better of the bad (Eagles) came out with the win 27-7 Monday night, solidly clinching a strong-hold on first place in the NFC East at 3-3. I mean, someone HAS to win this division right? Looks like 8-8 will win you the NFC East and get ya in the playoffs this season!!”
The division is still very much up for grabs, but it’s like watching four “short Randy Moss”-sized people jump for the top shelf in the cereal isle at the grocery store.
Philly and New York are basically carbon-copy teams of dysfunction, both hovering around the middle of the pack when it comes to league rankings. Philly (as a team) averages 24 ppg and is 11th overall in total offense while New York (as a team) averages 23.3 ppg and is ranked 12th overall in total offense. Both teams have a lot of work ahead of them on the defensive side of the ball, Philly is ranked 18th in total defense and New York is ranked 28th in total defense. AND THESE TWO TEAMS ARE TIED FOR THE LEAD IN THE DIVISION! While Dallas and Washington nurse horrific injuries to star players and constant locker room drama while they perform roster surgery on a weekly basis, the division is wide open for the taking IF anyone really wants it.
Translation: No team in the NFC East has done anything to create any separation in the standings yet, the Eagles faithful hope the Chip Kelly offense will eventually get their feet underneath them somehow, I STILL don’t understand how they aren’t rushing for 500 yds a game with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews in the back field (not to mention Darren Sproles). But until someone in this division shows they deserve the #1 spot, they’ll all be jumping for that cereal that’s juuuuuust out of reach.
The Green Bay Discount Double-Checks are sprinting away with this top heavy division quicker than the Kardashians turn on a camera and take a selfie every morning (it’s a damn shame what they’ve done to Lamar Odom too). The Packers sit at 6-0 behind the greatness that is Aaron Rodgers….we should all really take a moment and appreciate being able to see an incredible QB at the peak of his career in real time, Rodgers is one of the best this game has ever seen.
When the Pack-Men’s #1 receiver went down in the preseason (Jordy Nelson), everyone seemed to hit the panic button early and question how the offense would possibly be able to replace 98 receptions, over 1500 yds receiving and 13 TDs with a slot receiver (Randall Cobb) and two relatively unknowns (Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery). The Packers were immediately viewed as a team that just wasn’t gonna have enough firepower this season to make a run at the Superbowl…….but apparently people forgot about the Force Awakening within the loins of Lambeau Field and Aaron Rodgers’ perfectly groomed man-beard.
They signed the old-faithful TD machine, James Jones (6 TDs in 6 weeks), created a two-headed rushing attack between Eddie Lacy and James Starks (combined 704 yds from scrimmage and 3 TDs) AND they’ve added a legit Tight End who can pose as a red zone threat, Richard Rodgers (189 yds and 2 TDs)……who also provides us with the opportunity to scream things like, “Rodgers to Rodgers! Put your feet up and get a little of that R&R!” Ok….at best that’s like a 6 out of 10 joke, I admit it.
The rest of the NFC North is tilting the scales of average to below-average, Minnesota is still several seasons away from being relevant, which is too bad cause AP isn’t getting any younger. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are dumpster fires riding in a garbage truck through a nitroglycerin plant.
Wait, hold on a sec….the Carolina Panthers are 6-0?
No, they’re not 6-0. You’re GRAVELY mistaken sir.
BUT they are 5-0!
I don’t get it either, they lost their best wide receiver to injury in the preseason (deja’ vu Green Bay), Cam Newton was getting into fights with no-name defensive backs in the preseason and Steve Smith Sr. isn’t there anymore! How are they 5-0???
The Panthers average 27 ppg as a team (6th in the NFL), they’re in the middle-to-lower half of every other statistical category on the offensive side of the ball. Basically leaning on Cam Newton completely to put them in positions to score (55.4% completions, over 1,000 yds passing, 2-to-1 passing TD/Int ratio, 225 yds rushing with 3 rushing TDs, 52.7 QBR). Newton isn’t having a stellar year statistically, but he IS timely with his big plays and has matured into the complete and total leader of this football team.
SO HOW ARE THEY WINING? Defense?
The Panthers “D” is holding teams to under 20 ppg, but is only top ten in two statistical categories. They’re tied for 1st place in give/take (+6) and #5 in total yards given up (1,690). EVERY other defensive category has the Panthers somewhere between #7 and #20 in the NFL.
OK, so the defense is good, but not unbelievable by any means. So how are they winning? Are they fool’s gold right now? Is the schedule light in the beginning of the season for them? To put it bluntly, HELL YES.
COMBINED, the teams that the Panthers have beat this season have a record of 9-20. NONE of the teams the Panthers have beat thus far have a winning record or even sit at .500 on the year. Other than the Seattle game, Carolina has yet to play anyone who was in the playoffs last season. I think we solved the mystery of the Panthers’ winning ways. Let’s see what happens over the next three weeks as they meet up with a few more adequate opponents in the Eagles, Colts and Packers.
Having said that, we move on to Hotlanta and the soaring Falcons (my pick to win the division). Atlanta has the #3 ranked offense in the NFL behind a rushing attack appearing out of nowhere thanks to the mostly unknown Devonta Freeman! Freeman is 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards (505) and 1st in rushing TDs (9). The second-year man out of Florida State has been a lightning bolt of excitement during the first 6 weeks of the league, providing a nice balance in the offense that is benefiting the “Cold as Ice” Matt Ryan.
Matt Ryan is having a very solid year, throwing at a completion rate of 65.5%, for 1,751 yds and 8 TDs. He sits at #7 in the QBR rankings at 70.1 for the season.
The Falcons will continue to improve and hopefully get healthier (Julio Jones) as the season goes on, with Freeman and Ryan leading the way. This could be the year to dethrone Green Bay or Seattle for the NFC title and a trip to the Superbowl. Atlanta needs to strike while the iron is hot.
Full disclosure, I love the Cardinals this season. FINALLY we’ve got a fully healthy Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald happening in the desert!!! Carson Palmer has been through a merry-go-round of peaks and valleys during his career, complete with several season-ending injuries and even the idea of early retirement. All the while Larry Fitzgerald has been quietly consistent for years a midst a cornucopia of less-than average QBs. Fitzy has been in receiver-purgatory for years in Arizona, his talent wasting away slowly and his potential untapped without ever saying a negative word. If there’s EVER been a QB-WR combo that needed to meet up and have (deserved) success late in their careers, it’s these two guys.
The Bruce Arians-lead, aggressive, keepin-it-100-Arizona defense (#8 ranked defense in the NFL) combined with the prodigious passing attack and the other NFL-AARP member (Chris Johnson) running the ball like it’s 2010, the Cardinals are poised to take over the Seahawks reign at the top of the NFC West in 2015.
The Rams, Seahawks and 49ers all sit there with 2 wins a piece, fighting for some kind of consistency while they chase down the Cardinals. I’m sure Seattle will figure out how to be more competitive and consistent offensively, I mean how hard is it to just throw me the throw the ball to Jimmy Graham 15 times a game and hand off to Marshawn Lynch 20 times a game?? Seems pretty obvious to everyone in the football world except maybe the Seattle offensive coordinators. Why not just let those two guys be ALL ABOUT THAT ACTION BOSS?
Week 6 is in the books, anyone else think this season is going extremely fast!?!? I already have several fantasy football friends who have given up on their seasons (Jamaal Charles owners). Let’s keep it going, keep your heads up out there. LOTS of football yet to be played.
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