|Jeff Curry / US Presswire|
|The Saints looked like the NFC's second-best team until suffering an upset loss to the previously winless Rams.|
The 7-0 Packers are a given as the NFC's best team right now. Behind them, however, nothing is as certain. The Saints? They lost to a previously winless team Sunday. The Niners? They did just enough to beat the Browns at home. The Giants? They barely held off the winless Dolphins. The Lions? They finally righted the ship after a two-game skid. The Falcons? Bears? Bucs? Eagles? Cowboys? Who is the second-best team in the NFC?
Philly pointed upwardsWhen it's all said and done, if they peak at the right time, I still believe it could be the Eagles. I haven't ruled them out of the division title in the pedestrian NFC East by a long shot.
The Eagles still have plenty of division games and finally looked like the team many of us thought they would be on Sunday night. There's plenty of talent there, and they are getting healthier out of the bye and have a lot of ingredients to win. The Saints will bounce back and the Falcons and Giants have been quietly picking up wins after rocky starts. Still, I believe the best is yet to come from the Eagles.
How can you overlook the 49ers?I'm really tempted to say the Saints because they'll bounce back from the egg they laid -- although facing Tampa Bay coming off its bye is not a good matchup this week. However, it's impossible not to say that San Francisco is the next best team after Green Bay. It's defeated Cincinnati, Philadelphia, destroyed Tampa Bay and beat Detroit, all of which are potential playoff teams.
It's hard not to wonder when the 49ers' lack of a passing game will catch up to them, but they've handled their business thus far. Their remaining schedule isn't very daunting, so winning 11 or 12 games does not look out of reach.
Saints still have what it takesDespite Sunday's shocking loss at St. Louis, the answer is still New Orleans. To beat Green Bay, you will likely have to do it with your offense, and the Saints are equipped to do that. BUT, if Philadelphia can string together a few performances similar to its domination of Dallas, that story could change.
Giants have all the componentsThe Giants should be considered the second-best team in the NFC. Their offense is beginning to round into form and their defense is the best of the bunch. When you look at teams that eventually make deep playoff runs, they typically have a franchise quarterback (Eli Manning), explosiveness at the skill positions (Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Ahmad Bradshaw) and a stout defense that creates sacks and turnovers. The Giants have all of those key elements and that is what sets them apart.
Week 8 provided an answerAfter watching all the games Sunday, I would have to think the Eagles are the most dangerous NFC team to compete with the Packers. Consistency is still a question, so I'll wait another week or two to push them up my power rankings.
In the meantime, the Saints are dangerous at home but not the same team on the road. The Falcons appear to be rounding into shape and could peak at the right time. Keep in mind, the Packers aren't perfect. They need to protect Aaron Rodgers better (16 sacks) and slow down the run (4.6 per rush).
No need to overreact in New OrleansI know losing to the Rams is embarrassing, but don't worry, Saints fans -- the sky isn't falling. Your team just had a bad Sunday. Here's some sunny perspective to brighten your gloomy day: The Packers lost back-to-back games to the lowly Redskins and Dolphins last October, and things worked out for them. Are the Saints the second-best team in the NFC? Probably* â¦ but the wait 'til next Sunday's game at home against the Bucs is going to feel like an eternity.
* I'd love to see a January shootout between Brees and Michael Vick's Eagles; and if the Lions can continue to thrive without a healthy, effective running back, they could emerge the NFC's second-best team.