NFL Mid Season Update: NFC Edition
November 22, 2020
Part two of the NFL mid-season update features the NFC in all their glory (minus the NFC east, of course). Compared to the AFC, the NFC divisions haven’t had as much luck putting points up on the board. The AFC playoff leaders have only seven combined losses, while the NFC has 12 losses. Many of those losses have been graciously gifted by the Philadelphia Eagles, who sit at the top of their division with a 3-5-1 record. The East division has been through the ringer. Dak Prescott (Cowboys) has been out since Week 5, Saquon Barkley (Giants) has been out since Week 1, and Kyle Allen (Football Team) suffered a gruesome leg injury in Week 9. About the only positive that can be taken from these key injuries is the return of quarterback Alex Smith (Washington Football Team).
NFC Divison Standings ↓↓↓ *AS OF WEEK 10*
|NFC East||Record||Divison Record|
|New York Giants||3-7||3-2|
|Washington Football Team||2-7||2-2|
Carson Wentz and the Eagles are just not very consistent. Some games it looks like things may be looking up for Philadelphia, but the turnovers are killing them. Wentz has thrown for 12 touchdowns … and 12 interceptions. But wait, the turnovers don’t stop there. Wentz has nine fumbles this season and four were turn overs. Overall the quarterback situation in Philadelphia is just odd. You can tell that head coach Doug Peterson is trying to emulate the Brees/Hill combo with Wentz and Jalen Hurts, but it just doesn’t seem to be working. Hurts has thrown just 2 passes (completing both) for 27 yards and has had 11 rushing attempts for a total of 50 yards. While we’re on rushing stats, second year running back Miles Sanders has had an exceptional year and is in reach of what could be his first 1,000+ rushing season. In his rookie year, Sanders averaged 51.1 rushing yards per game but this season he averages 86.5 rushing yards per game and 6 yards per carry. The Eagles defense is the only thing that’s keeping them in the playoff race right now. The defense ranks third in sacks (31.0) and 14th in points allowed per game. Defensive end Brandon Graham has been an absolute monster with seven sacks and two forced fumbles. Cornerback Darius Slayton has four pass breakups and his fellow secondary defender Rodney McLeod (safety) has seven pass breakups and one interception. In my opinion, it’s going to be a battle between the Eagles and Giants for the division title. Let’s be real though … neither will make it too far in the postseason.
Danny Dimes? Nope. Just Daniel Jones because he has more interceptions than touchdowns this season. Jones has thrown for 8 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, which explains why his QB rating is 78.2. On top of his interceptions Jones has fumbled 7 times but only 4 of those were turnovers. Before you count Daniel Jones out completely listen to this: he has rushed for 384 yards, leading his team in rushing yards. Of course if Saquon Barkley was healthy it’d be a different story, but still you gotta give him props. In Week 7 we saw Jones’ wheels when he ran for 80 yards and according to Next Gen Stats he reached a speed of 20.64 MPH, his personal best. The Giants as a team only average 19.5 points a game and 324.5 yards per game, ranking them 30th among the 32 NFL teams. The Giants are among the top 10 youngest teams in the NFL and their stats show it, although the defense isn’t too bad. They’re holding opponents to a mere 20.6 points per game and their wins are against weak offenses, but remember they held Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to only 25 points. Fifth year linebacker Blake Martinez is tied for first place with overall tackles (96) ands defensive back Logan Ryan has been ballin’ out with 47 total tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception. Cornerback James Bradburry has 14 pass breakups and three interceptions. Leonard Williams has been the top pass rusher for the Giants with 5 sacks and 34 total tackles. Overall, I’d say that the New York Giants have a chance to take over their division if Jones manages to hold on to the ball and play with more confidence. Both the Eagles and Giants have tough schedules coming up, so the division is fair game.
|NFC North||Record||Divison Record|
|Green Bay Packers||7-2||2-1|
The Green Bay Packers will secure a spot in the playoffs, but the question is will they make it to the Super Bowl? The way that Aaron Rodgers is playing, it definitely could become a reality. Rodgers has thrown for 26 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions with a QB rating of 116.4. Running back Aaron Jones has five rushing touchdowns, ranking 7th in the league, and two receiving touchdowns. Wide receiver Davante Adams averages over 100 yards per game and has nine touchdowns, tying for first in the league. Linebacker La’Darius Smith has been a threat all over the field. Smith has eight sacks, two forced fumbles and 33 total tackles. The defense has done well and has managed to hold opponents to 296.4 yards per game.
In my opinion, the Minnesota Vikings have a better shot at the playoffs than the Chicago Bears, especially with Nick Foles’ injury. Running back Dalvin Cook is indestructible considering he has 498 yards after contact (ranks 2nd) and 24 broken tackles (ranks 1st). He’s rushed for 954 yards and 12 touchdowns, leading the league in both. His offensive line has definitely helped, but there’s no doubting his talent. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown for 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with a QB rating of 98.1. Receivers Adam Thelin and Justin Jefferson are giving Seattle’s Metcalf and Lockett some competition regarding receiving duos. Jefferson, the rookie out of LSU, leads his team with 762 receiving yards and has three touchdowns. Thelin has 523 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. As long as Cousins can keep possession of the ball the offense puts them in a real position to win a Wild Card game. As for the pass rush defense, they’re just barely above average with a total of 18 sacks, and just three defenders have over two sacks. The leader of the secondary has been safety Harrison Smith, leading his team in interceptions (3) and pass breakups (6). The win over the Bears in Week 10 definitely boosted the teams’ confidence, and they have yet to play the Cowboys and Jaguars which should be easy wins.
|NFC South||Record||Divison Record|
|New Orleans Saints||7-2||3-0|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7-3||2-2|
The New Orleans Saints seem to always be in the running for a Super Bowl appearance, but they fall short. Quarterback Drew Brees is out for the next three weeks due to multiple rib fractures. Taysom Hill has been named the starter and many fans were upset by the choice of starting him over Jameis Winston. Hill has rarely thrown the ball in his four years of experience. He has doubled as a tight end when Brees takes the field, but these next few games will tell if he has what it takes to be the next franchise quarterback. As of Week 10, Brees threw for 18 touchdowns and only three interceptions, with a 110 QB rating. Alvin Kamara has rushed for 486 yards, seven rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns. Kamara has been a powerhouse, leading his team in both rushing and receiving yards. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders has 347 receiving yards and three touchdowns and Michal Thomas has only played three games with a total of 95 receiving yards. Safety Malcolm Jenkins leads his team with 51 tackles, nine pass breakups and ties for first with two interceptions. The pass rush defense has racked up 24 total sacks and allowed only 308.2 yards per game, ranking fifth in the league. The defensive line has been able to contain the run game, only allowing 76.8 rush yards per game, ranking second overall. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson leads his team with 7.5 sacks and is tied for sixth overall in the league. With Brees out it’ll be interesting to see how Hill commands the team and if he can secure wins against the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made themselves “relevant” per say this year by signing quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Tampa Bay only trails behind New Orleans by one game, but the beating that they took from the Saints was brutal. The Bucs only put up three points against Brees and the Saints in Week 9. Tom Brady has thrown for 23 touchdowns with seven interceptions and a QB rating of 99. His tight end Gronkowski has four touchdown passes from him. Running back Ronald Jones ll has rushed for 730 yards (3rd in league) and five touchdowns. Mike Evans leads his team in receiving yards (514) and touchdowns (8). As for the defense, they’ve shown that they’re legit. They rank first in interceptions (12) and second in sacks (32). Linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul leads his team in sacks (7.5) and has three forced fumbles which ties for sixth in the league. Cornerback Carlton Davis lll has 14 pass breakups and four interceptions, I think it’s safe to say that he is a leader for that secondary defense. The Bucs are set to secure a top Wild Card spot and I think that they definitely have the weapons to go far into the playoffs.
|NFC West||Record||Division Record|
|Los Angeles Rams||6-3||1-1|
|San Francisco 49ers||4-6||1-2|
Kyler Murray has officially established himself as an MVP candidate. He has rushed for 604 yards with 10 rushing touchdowns, and to add to that he’s thrown for a ratio of 17 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Even with his impressive rushing stats, Murray doesn’t lead his team in rushing yards. That award goes to running back Kenyan Drake with 612 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Cardinals won during the offseason by acquiring arguably the best receiver in the league, DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has 861 receiving yards, averages 95.7 yards per game and has four touchdowns. Now, I can’t just move on to the next outstanding player without recognizing the absolutely amazing hail mary catch that Hopkins made as he was surrounded by three Bills defenders to win the game. The highest paid safety, Buddha Baker, has 73 total tackles, two sacks, four pass breakups, two interceptions and a forced fumble. I think it’s safe to say that Baker is on his way to living up to his hefty salary. Second year cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. has 30 total tackles followed with an interception and sack. As for the pass rush, linebacker Haason Reddick leads the team with 5 sacks. The only other linebacker with more than one sack is Dennis Gardeck (2). The defense as a whole is above average, but there’s still much to be done if they want to make it far into the playoffs. As of Week 10 they’re tied with the Seattle Seahawks, who they face off against in Week 11. Both teams have a good shot at making the playoffs, but the big question is who will secure the home game advantage.
Russell Wilson for MVP? Wilson ranks number one in passing touchdowns (28), third in passer rating (110.5) and second in passing yards (2,789). Some people may argue that his offense weapons around him are “carrying” him, but Wilson has kept up stats like this since 2012. Tyler Lockett and D.K Metcalf have become the ultimate receiver duo, combining for a total of 15 touchdowns. It’s only Metcalf’s second season and he’s already exceeded his rookie numbers and we’re only a little over halfway through the season. Lockett looks like he’s on his way to his second straight 1,000+ receiving yard season. In Week 6, Lockett had a 200 yard receiving game, complemented with three touchdowns. Seattle vs. Cardinals (Week 6) was arguably the best game of the season so far. Seattle ended up losing in overtime, but Week 11 they face off once again. There’s no question the Seattle offense can bring the juice, but can the defense? The Seahawks broke a record, but not a positive one. Throughout the first three games of the season they have allowed more passing yards (1,292) than any team in history. Their secondary has had troubles, with cornerback Tre Flowers missing the mark in many one-on-one matchups. On the positive side, he is tied for third place among his team in total tackles (40). Cornerback Shaquill Griffin has had consistent stats except for the game against Arizona, where he had only four tackles and no pass breakups. The pass rush defense has been slacking, hence the signing of defensive end Carlos Dunlap ll. The Seahawks have the potential to be a real Super Bowl contender, but a lot of pressure hangs on the defense and how they perform the last half of the season.
The Los Angeles Rams have established themselves in the NFC West division, especially after beating Seattle in Week 10. Quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 13 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and a QB rating of 94.9. Running back Darrell Henderson Jr. averages 4.8 yards per carry and has rushed for 486 yards. The Rams’ offensive line is one of the best in the league, thus Darrell Hersonson, Jr.’s yards per carry. They have given Goff a substantial amount of time in the pocket and have only given up 13 sacks. Cooper Kupp has been Goff’s main target, racking up 577 receiving yards with 53 receptions. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald and linebacker Leonard Floyd have been tearing up offense lines. Donald has nine sacks and 11 tackles for loss of yards, Floyd has seven sacks and eight tackles for loss of yards. The secondary defense has been taking care of their opponents, ranking eighth in interceptions and they have seven players with 3 or more pass breakups. The NFC West division is competitive this season and the playoffs will probably be determined by only one game difference.
The pandemic and world issues have made it a difficult year, but the NFL has brought joy to many (including me, duh). Also, in the spirit of Thanksgiving I want to express how thankful I am that the season has be able to continue despite its challenges! Hopefully, the remainder of the season goes smoothly with little to no injuries.
P.S – Go Bengals 🙂