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NFC appears wide open with major injuries and poor play by top-tier teams

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s talk a little bit about Sunday in the NFC:

  • The San Francisco 49ers fell to 1-2 and it is expected that Jimmy Garoppolo will go on injured reserve with a torn ACL. Richard Sherman is also expected to miss at least a few weeks. After offseason speculation of a return to the postseason, the 49ers may be looking at another high draft pick instead.
  • The Minnesota Vikings beat the 49ers in Week 1, with many calling their defense the best in the NFL. The Vikings tied the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 and then lost to the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. Minnesota was at home and the Bills were considered by many to be the worst team in the league by a wide margin. It wasn’t even close. Kirk Cousins looked terrible. Dalvin Cook was out. They haven’t forced a turnover since Week 1 and that includes a fifth quarter in Green Bay.
  • The Packers are just 1-1-1. They tied the Vikings at home and then lost to Washington on Sunday by 14 points. Aaron Rodgers is averaging 7.2 Y/A, which is fairly typical of Rodgers of late, and he has six touchdowns and no picks, but the results aren’t producing points like they used to. Green Bay also lost Muhammad Wilkerson to a significant injury on Sunday. By most accounts, the defense is pretty bad already.
  • The worst defense though belongs to the New Orleans Saints so far. They gave up four touchdowns to Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1 and five touchdowns to Matt Ryan in Week 3. The impact that Marshon Lattimore had as a rookie isn’t doing anything for them today and they’re allowing a passer rating of 141.7 thus far. That’s bad, even for the Saints of old. They beat the Atlanta Falcons in OT, but only squeezed by the Cleveland Browns 21-18 a week earlier. Drew Brees and Michael Thomas are still great, but it’s hard to compete every week when you’re allowing 35+ points per game.
  • The Falcons are 1-2 and they’ve lost Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, and Ricardo Allen to season-ending injuries. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but they’re finished. It’ll be stunning if their defense recovers from losing their two best players and another very good safety. Atlanta beat the Carolina Panthers a week ago and only lost by six to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1.
  • The Eagles lost to the Bucs a week ago and needed to go down to the wire to beat an Indianapolis Colts team that can’t throw more than 10 yards downfield with Andrew Luck under center. Frankly, Carson Wentz did not look impressive against a Colts defense that is not supposed to be anything special. He returned from a long break, but it’s worth asking how long it takes to shake the rust off — as well as what he’ll look like with no rust. Wentz only had one season as a high-level starter under his belt prior to the injury. Also, how happy is Michael Bennett on this team? His snaps are down and he has zero sacks through three games. Is the defense as special as we thought it would be?
  • The Dallas Cowboys are 1-2 and just lost to the Seattle Seahawks. They don’t look anything close to a playoff team. The Arizona Cardinals are 0-3 and could be the worst NFL team — unless they have a Buffalo-like turnaround against the Seahawks next week. The New York Giants are 1-2. The Detroit Lions were 0-2 before beating up on the New England Patriots, a team I thought was finally on the way to not winning 12 games this season and it still looks that way. The Carolina Panthers are 2-1, with both wins coming at home against beatable competition (Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals) and a road loss to the Falcons. Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers actually get to 3-0 tonight against the Pittsburgh Steelers or will Fitmagic go Fitztragic?
  • I can’t say too much negative about the LA Rams though. The most dominant team in the NFL despite a bottom-third QB under center. They did lose Marcus Peters to a calf strain for a few weeks. But they have all kinds of depth. That’s one team ahead of Seattle in the NFC West, but there’s many other opportunities around. For all teams in the conference.

This is the NFC right now. Just keep that in mind.