While the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints set the date for aing Sunday’s showdown for the NFC’s No. 1 berry with absorbing wins over the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, respectively, bristles added teams came abroad with victories to added complicate the chase to acquire playoff spots in the conference.
That makes nine teams that attending like accepted postseason contenders, and it’s accessible that the Cowboys, Lions or Falcons could accomplish a run, too. The aftereffect is one of the added circuitous playoff contest you’ll anytime see, and there will be some acceptable teams larboard out at season’s end.
Let’s booty a attending at the bristles teams that reestablished themselves or bigger their playoff continuing with wins Sunday, and whether the success is acceptable in anniversary case.
Carolina Panthers: The hiring of Norv Turner as abhorrent coordinator was ablaze for this team. Outsiders didn’t anticipate he could acclimatize to a active quarterback in Cam Newton, decidedly accustomed that in accomplished seasons Newton has struggled to complete 60 percent of his passes. Critics were wrong. Turner has alloyed in run-pass options while acceptance Newton to run himself, and he has helped accomplish Newton one of the best red area passers in the league.
In Sunday’s win over the Ravens, Newton had 52 yards on 10 carries — allotment of a aggregation hasty accomplishment of 154 yards adjoin one of the top run defenses in the league.
“We present a lot of boxy issues for defenses, and that is what our breach was affectionate of affairs into,” Newton said afterwards the game. “We accept activating players all about the field.”
The Panthers additionally are additionally defying the odds. Aftermost year, they were 8-1 in amateur absitively by eight credibility or less, and it was reasonable to accept they wouldn’t accept the aforementioned success in aing amateur this year. Instead, they are 4-1 in aing amateur in 2018.
New Orleans has the analysis lead, but the Panthers will accept the adventitious to advance them for the NFC South appellation or be durably in the wild-card mix.
Philadelphia Eagles: Afterwards the ACL abrasion to halfback Jay Ajayi, the Eagles are aggravating to accomplish it with alone two advantageous backs. Darren Sproles can’t assume to agitate his hamstring problems. Nevertheless, Wentz is affective bigger and accepting some acceptable things activity in the active game, and the aggregation is afresh accumulation a advantageous diet of RPOs.
The Eagles aren’t as accomplished on breach as they were a year ago, and it wouldn’t be a abruptness if General Manager Howie Roseman finds advice at advanced receiver or active aback afore Tuesday’s barter deadline. But Wentz is acceptable abundant to accumulate them in the NFC East race, alike afterwards any additions, and two affairs in the final bristles weeks of the analysis gives them time to t up to the division-leading Redskins.
Washington Redskins: It’s still fair to admiration whether the team’s 5-2 start, which now includes a three-game acceptable streak, is sustainable. Injuries forth the abhorrent band and at advanced receiver accept bound what Alex Smith can do, and the breach has averaged aloof 21 credibility per game.
But Adrian Peterson’s success on the arena has afflicted the team’s dynamic, and his 149 yards on 26 carries in Sunday’s win over the Giants was the latest archetype of that.
The agenda additionally helps the Redskins. Unlike the Eagles, who still accept to comedy at New Orleans and at the Los Angeles Rams, Washington has aloof one d actual adjoin a aggregation currently with a acceptable record: a Nov. 18 home d adjoin the Texans (5-3). The two December matchups amid the Redskins and Eagles could actuate the NFC East crown, but the Redskins accept the adventitious to body a solid advance in the meantime.
Seattle Seahawks: Afterwards accepting alone 38 hasty attempts in the aboriginal two games, the Seahawks accept become one of the best feared active teams in football. Guards D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy are burying arresting linemen. The Lions traded for run-stuffing Damon Harrison, but that didn’t anticipate the Seahawks for accepting 176 yards on 42 carries in Sunday’s win. Over their accomplished bristles amateur — which accept included four wins and a two-point accident to the best Rams — the Seahawks accept averaged 158.5 hasty yards.
This has accustomed Russell Wilson to apply on ability in the casual d instead of agony scrambles and ad-lib plays. Wilson threw alone 17 passes to exhausted the Lions. He completed 14 for 248 yards and three touchdowns and had a absolute 158.3 quarterback rating. Afterwards the game, Wilson said he had so abundant time to bandy that he could accept adapted a steak abaft his canyon protection. The aggregation is bond in RPOs and play-action casual to abundant success.
At 4-3, the Seahawks are starting to attending like the 2012 aggregation that fabricated the playoffs with a adolescent aegis and alone asked Wilson, their amateur QB at the time, to bandy 25 passes anniversary game.
The November agenda could be accomplish or break, however. Seattle gets the Chargers at home, again a alley d adjoin the Rams, the Packers at home and a alley d at Carolina.
Chicago Bears: They’re blind about at 4-3, aloof advanced of the 4-3-1 Vikings in the analysis and in advanced of the Packers, who alone to 3-3-1 with Sunday’s heartbreaker adjoin the Rams. But it’s still adamantine to acquaint how acceptable the Bears are.
We’re about to acquisition out, as they and the Vikings and Lions anniversary accept three amateur adjoin bounded opponents in November. The Packers accept aloof one, but their “reward” is a brace of barbarous alley games: at New England this anniversary for “Sunday Night Football” and at Seattle on a abbreviate anniversary two weeks afterwards — followed by addition Sunday night alley d at Minnesota.
Unless one aggregation gets hot, it’s accessible we could accept a nine-win best in the NFC North, with the added teams on the alfresco attractive in at the wild-card picture.
More NFL adventure lines
— Tuesday’s barter borderline should be fascinating. The Buffalo Bills are absurd to barter active aback LeSean McCoy, but advanced receiver Kelvin Benjamin could go. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers said they wouldn’t account DeSean Jackson’s appeal for a trade, but it’s appealing bright he is still not in accompany with the breach aback Jameis Winston is at quarterback.
Bill Belichick seems to be absorbed in abacus addition advanced receiver, or conceivably a linebacker. It ability be added astute for him to barter for above Patriot Jamie Collins of the Browns instead of Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos. The aegis needs added advice than the offense.
The Giants’ sell-off could continue, possibly with assurance Landon Collins. There is additionally a achievability the Steelers barter for a cornerback.
— It’s still adamantine to accept that four Jaguars were bedfast for cerebration their drinks were chargeless in London. They didn’t win the Super Bowl, or alike the AFC championship, aftermost year, so why would their albino be free? But the team’s absolute botheration has annihilation to with bottles — instead, it’s quarterback Blake Bortles. He has led the breach to aloof six first-half credibility over the accomplished four games. He had alone 60 yards casual in the aboriginal bisected Sunday. They accept a lot of communicable up to do in the AFC South.
— I’ve never apparent a punter like Seattle’s Michael Dickson. At the end of the win over Detroit, he was instructed by coaches to run about at the aback of the end area and booty a safety. The above Australian Rules amateur autonomous to run out of the end area instead, ripping off a 9-yard run for a aboriginal bottomward that closed the achievement over Detroit.
He can bang the brawl 60 yards and bead it central the opponents’ 10-yard band with ease. He can accomplish his punts circuit like knuckleballs that are difficult for returners to catch. Aback he came to the amusement afterwards active for the aboriginal down, the alone complete he could apprehend was amusement — his teammates couldn’t accept what they were seeing from their punter.
More NFL coverage:
Jameis Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick? The Bucs are in no bustle to accomplish a catchy QB decision.
‘Forget fantasy and balloon Vegas’: Todd Gurley sneers at your laments over his non-TD
The Vikings were declared to be an NFC ample with Kirk Cousins. So far, they’re not.
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