The Seattle Seahawks did not play on Sunday, but despite some key teams around them winning their games, nothing changed for Seattle in the standings really. Not yet at least. The Seahawks are currently the first wild card, and if things held like this for the next seven weeks they’d be playing at the LA Rams in the first round of the playoffs.
That is a long ways off — here is a quick summary of what we saw in the NFC on Sunday.
- Rams (7-2) blow out Texans, 33-7
The game was close at half (9-7) but then the Rams put up 21 unanswered in the third quarter, all three touchdowns coming on Jared Goff touchdown passes. Goff now has 16 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a rating of 101.5 in his second season, putting him on pace to have one of the most dominant second seasons in league history.
Other QBs to have a rating over 100 in year two include (in order from greatest on down): Nick Foles, Kurt Warner, Otto Graham, Dan Marino, Carson Wentz (current), Russell Wilson, and Carson Palmer. That being said, Warner, Graham, and Palmer were actually more than two years removed from college when they had their NFL “second seasons.”
However, I’m still not that close to believing that Goff is a postseason QB to be feared in 2017. Too inconsistent and he hasn’t cleaned up those bad throws that will cost you against good defenses, like the ones the Rams will have to face in the playoffs. But even the fact that we’re talking about LA like a playoff team — and they have won their last three games by a combined score of 117-24 — is a huge change of direction. We’ll see what their record is when they come to Seattle though, because the Rams’ next four games are: @ Vikings, Saints, @ Cardinals, Eagles.
- 49ers (1-9) get first win
San Francisco is not currently in position to be picking first overall at the moment. After beating the Giants 31-21 on Sunday, San Francisco is firmly behind the 0-9 Cleveland Browns, and not that far ahead of 1-8 New York.
C.J. Beathard went 19-of-25 for 288 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The Niners are expected to start Jimmy Garoppolo in their next game though, which comes in two weeks against the Seahawks. Or will that change between now and then?
The Niners may not hurt themselves that much if they stay at number two, re-sign Garoppolo, and believe that their best bet will be drafting Saquon Barkley or Arden Key or someone else. There’s a good chance that the number one pick will be a QB anyway. But the lower they are, the better it is for their NFC West counterparts ... even if it is unlikely the 49ers will be a team worth monitoring in the next couple of years anyway.
- Vikings (7-2) do what Seahawks couldn’t, defeat Washington
Case Keenum is a much worse quarterback than Russell Wilson, but he didn’t show that on Sunday when tossing four touchdowns against Washington (and then giving it away twice on interceptions). The loss dropped Washington to 4-5, meaning there’s little chance that a head-to-head tiebreaker will ever come back to bite Seattle in that case. But the win for Minnesota keeps them a game ahead of the Seahawks for now.
Adam Thielen had eight catches for 166 yards, and the former UDFA from Minnesota State is now just 207 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season.
The Vikings play good pass defense, clearly can throw it on offense, and are a top-three run defense in yards and yards per carry. They are a threat to win the NFC, but I’d still keep returning to the same point of fact that I did with LA: Are you afraid of Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater in a playoff scenario?
Minnesota beat the Saints in Week 1, but since then don’t have a win over an impressive team. They play the Rams next week, followed by three straight road games: @Detroit, @ Atlanta, @ Carolina.
After their next four games, what will the Vikings record be? 11-2 seems highly improbable. 9-4 would be respectable. 8-5 is very possible.
Atlanta blessed up to above .500 by knocking down a Dallas team that was probably feeling pretty good about themselves in spite of finally losing Ezekiel Elliott for six games. Both of these teams are on Seattle’s upcoming schedule, with the Falcons on deck for Monday Night Football in Week 11.
Atlanta is still fifth in net yards/pass attempt, fourth in net yards/pass attempt allowed, and fifth in yards per carry. Defensively though, they’ve allowed 11 touchdowns and picked off only two passes for a rating against of 91.9. Devonta Freeman left with a concussion and was replaced by Tevin Coleman, who had 20 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Dallas lost Tyron Smith to a groin injury, Sean Lee to a hamstring injury, and Orlando Scandrick to a hand injury all during the game. And it wasn’t even on Thursday night.
Both teams are now one game behind the Seahawks (6-3) with seven games left to go. The Cowboys travel to Seattle in Week 16, which is also scheduled to be Elliott’s return.
- Lions (5-4) take sweet time in beating Browns, Packers (5-4) get a moral (and real) victory over Bears
The other two teams within striking distance of the Seahawks are Detroit and Green Bay. But the Lions hosted the last winless team in the NFL and 10-0 in the first quarter and 24-17 in the third. Sometimes you get the feeling that Detroit is really good but ultimately they’ll keep on failing in the key moments, especially against good teams.
It was nice for the Packers to get a win under Brett Hundley but that’s going to be one of their only such victories.
- Saints (7-2) can’t stop, won’t stop
New Orleans stomped Buffalo on the road for their seventh victory in a row. They are a lot easier to buy as a Super Bowl contender than the Rams are -- and we’ll find out how true that is in two weeks when the Saints travel to LA.
They did it this week without a ton of production via Drew Brees’ arm, instead rushing for 298 yards and six touchdowns en route to a 47-10 win over the Bills. New Orleans final seven games includes two against the Falcons, and one each against the Panthers, Rams, Bucs, Jets, and Washington. Final record? 13-3 is in play, and I’d have to say that Philadelphia and New Orleans are definitely in the driver seat (lap-on-lap?) for the top two seeds in the conference.
The Seahawks will have a chance to beat the Eagles and close the gap by a game, but there’s nothing they can do about the Saints if they keep winning.
And that’s relevant Week 10 stuff that happened in the NFC this week. The Panthers host the Dolphins tonight; Carolina is also 6-3, but in the six seed, so a win would move them up and a loss would knock them out of the current playoff standings.