Is there a real leader in NFC?

Is there a real leader in NFC?

Are two games enough for a sample size to gather relevant information about an NFL team’s prospects? Probably not.

Has this ever stopped anyone from making definitive statements about the teams and the potential outcome of their season? You already know the answer to that.

But one thing no one, not even the loudest talking head, can say for sure is that they know who is the favorite in the NFC.

In AFC, many are already falling on themselves to crown the Buffalo Bills. An extremely compelling case can be presented for the Chiefs and perhaps even the Los Angeles Chargers if they can prevent Justin Herbert from further injuries.

The NFC, though? It is an extremely difficult conference to decipher at this early stage.

This is not to say that there are no extraordinary teams. Conversely, there are six that appear to have a very good chance of representing NFC in the Super Bowl as they all reside in the top 10 of Stats Perform’s power charts.

Two of them will face off on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Green Bay Packers in what could be the final match between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who met in the NFC final two seasons ago. The Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl champions, will visit the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of last year’s title game in week 4.

But which of that group has the best shot? Stats Perform used its advanced data to investigate the case for each of the six.

Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 2-0

Power ranking: 1

The Eagles have lived up to their off-season hype so far, with Jalen Hurts piloting an efficient offense that is the NFL’s most explosive in two weeks.

In fact, the Eagles are fourth in yards per play on offense while, prior to Thursday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, no NFL team had produced more plays than 10 yards or more than Philadelphia’s 39.

AJ Brown, their commercially successful takeover to Draft, quickly built an excellent relationship with Hurts. The former wide receiver of the Tennessee Titans has recorded a burn, which is when a receiver wins his match with a defender in a game in which he is targeted, on 14 of his 21 targets and has an average of 8.2 yards burned per route (the championship average is 3.6).

The threat provided by Hurts in the running game helped Philadelphia amass 189.5 yards per game on the field, second only to the Browns. Although a small sample size, the Eagles’ early success on the pitch is illustrative of how hard they are to stop with the diversity of their offense.

There is more cause for doubt in defense, with a three interception effort against the Minnesota Vikings in which the Eagles conceded just seven points after a 38-35 shootout with the Detroit Lions. However, a very favorable schedule may see no defensive failures properly tested until week 12 against the Packers and allow Philadelphia to move into the top spot to compete for the NFC seed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer

Record: 2-0

Power ranking: 4

Tampa Bay’s average margin of victory in two games is 13 points. The Bucs beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-3 and eventually emerged from a fight with the New Orleans Saints as winners 20-10.

Yet it’s hard to declare their start to the season overly impressive, at least by Brady’s high standards.

The Bucs have only scored two offensive touchdowns as they fought injuries in the wide receiver position and wrestle on the much changed inside of the offensive line.

Rather than Brady making a good start to the season he initially decided not to play, it was the Bucs defense that led the way.

They were 182 seconds left in their game with the Saints when they conceded a touchdown for the first time this season, with the Bucs conceding just 4.25 yards per game, the third least in the NFL.

Rodgers and Green Bay will provide an early and stern test of their credentials, but there is evidence to suggest the Bucs will eventually have a recipe for a potential second league run in three seasons.

Despite all the protection issues ahead of him, Brady delivered a well-thrown ball on 81.7% of his passing attempts and only threw one selectable pass in 60 pitches. Given the level of play of the defense and the weapons the Bucs have yet to return, it goes without saying that they will soon provide a much more complete performance that will greatly enhance their reputation as contenders.

Los Angeles Rams

Record 1-1

Power ranking: 3

Defeated by the Buffaloes the night they raised their Super Bowl banner before having to survive a noticeable overdue scare against the humble Atlanta Falcons, the Rams don’t look like a team ready to repeat.

They are still in third place on the power rankings, but there are a lot of red flags surrounding the Rams in this embryonic season.

It is the protection of the pass that is the most pressing concern, Matthew Stafford was constantly under pressure in the opening and injuries in the attack further damaged the cause of the Rams, hindering Stafford to the point of reaching an average of almost half a meter below expectations in foreseen transition situations.

With 58 total points conceded, there are clearly huge improvements in defense as well.

However, Aaron Donald already has 17 league-leading pressures and Jalen Ramsey concocted the decisive intercept in the endzone against Atlanta, and that often deciding star power makes the Rams a hard team to count, especially with a match against a team of the United States. Arizona Cardinals who consistently dominated the horizon in week 3.

San Francisco 49ers

Record 1-1

Power ranking: 5

The biggest threat to the Rams from within their own division comes from the team having suffered an injury that would have put an end to the hopes of most teams in the league.

San Francisco lost quarterback Trey Lance in his second game of his first season as a starter in the 49ers’ 27-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Yet, keeping Jimmy Garoppolo around with a restructured contract, the 49ers have given themselves an insurance policy, which can keep them firm even without Lance.

Garoppolo helped the 49ers to the brink of Super Bowl glory in the 2019 season and the NFC Championship Game last season, and while the roof of the Lanceless Niners is possibly lowered, the Super Bowl gauge roster floor has been raised from the former. The return to formation of the New England Patriot.

Although they suffered a rollover at the hands of a Chicago Bears in Week 1, the 49ers have one of the most complete rosters in the league and their defense got off to a great start, allowing for the second-lowest number of yards per game (4.08) in the NFL. .

The security position was expected to be a weak point. Instead, it has been an unexpected selling point so far, as well as an inexperienced and remodeled offensive line that has won 81.6% of its pass blocking matches. It will be difficult to identify an obvious flaw in this squad if pass protection continues to excel, with the game in the trenches made even more critical due to Garoppolo’s long history of injuries.

Vikings of Minnesota

Record: 1-1

Power ranking: 8

Hopes that Vikings could become one of football’s most dynamic offensive teams under Kevin O’Connell were hurt by Monday’s 24-7 defeat to the Eagles.

Despite another vintage prime-time meltdown by Kirk Cousins, the Vikings have the trick of a team that could struggle to go deep into the NFC playoffs if things go well.

They demonstrated how dangerous O’Connell’s attack can be in their opening win over the Packers, with Justin Jefferson armed with the complex attack of Rams’ former assistant.

Even though he was kept in check by Philadelphia, Jefferson’s 8.5 yards burnt per target is the fifth highest among the receivers with at least 10 targets in the first two games.

The offensive line remains an issue, but early signs are that the Vikings’ defensive front will be the one tipping games in their favor, having already recorded six sacks for negative yardage.

Cousins ​​is delivering the ball accurately, recording a positive shot rate of 86.5%, and while there are doubts about his ability to perform in the brightest spotlight, a schedule that includes 10 games against non-playoff teams 2021 could give the Vikings the edge of their division rivals in the fight to get to the NFL post-season pressure cooker.

Green Bay Packers

Record: 1-1

Power ranking: 9

The Packers got off to a bad start in a week 1 loss to Minnesota that left Aaron Rodgers visibly exasperated. Normal service was resumed, however, in the normal Week 2 win over the Bears.

The problem with Green Bay is that the Packers have a list where you can choose different holes. The offensive line struggled due to the prolonged absence of left tackle David Bakhtiari, while the Packers’ hopes of repairing their continually porous running defense have not yet come true. They gave away 5.56 yards per game on the ground, fourth most in the NFL.

Rodgers has yet to establish a relationship with a young body of receivers as the Packers try to leave the Davante Adams saga and eventual swap with the Las Vegas Raiders behind. Although the lack of connection may be more due to a lack of confidence in his inexperienced wideouts’ ability to take the ball, rather than any concern for their success in creating separation.

Round two choice Christian Watson recorded a whopping 14.4 yards burned per target on the small sample size of seven targets. With Rodgers delivering a well-thrown ball on 89.3% of his attempts, it may not be long before Watson becomes a more integral part of the passing game, although the diversity the Packers achieve thanks to running back Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon on the pitch at the same time can keep the infraction running efficiently regardless of how wideouts progress.

Jones, arguably one of the NFL’s most accomplished defenders, has produced a great play on three of his eight goals this season, with defenses forced to respect both running and passing when he and Dillon line up in two teams. quickly. groupings.

The Packers’ secondary, despite being destroyed by Jefferson in Week 1, is in the top 12 in the allowable opening percentage while the strength of their defensive line has Green Bay in the top 12 in the passing win percentage.

Both the front and back of the Green Bay defense have the knack to climb much higher on those lists, and if those advances are accompanied by Rodgers’ development of an understanding with his new weapons, the Packers will soon have a compelling reason to be the elite of the conference

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