NFL Power Rankings: Eagles Maintain Top Spot?Date: December 7, 2017
By: Dalton Allison
10. Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jaguars took care of business against the lowly Indianapolis Colt. If you're a fan of the team, there was one player who excited you the most on Sunday. Blake Bortles, who usually hides under the guise of his running back, came out and had a fantastic performance. The quarterback threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, and was a leader on the field for the team. Marqise Lee was his favorite target, as he hit him 7 times for 81 yards and a touchdown. The defense was a force as usual, and created two interceptions off the hand of Jacoby Brisset. If Bortles is able to keep up the play that he displayed against the Colts, this team could soar through the rankings.
9. Tennessee Titans- At 5-1, the Titans sit as one of the strongest home teams in the NFL. Their running game is strong, led by a dynamic duo of Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray. Henry brings the speed, and Murray brings the power. The biggest play from the backs came when Henry busted out a 75 yard rush to bring the ball all the way to the house. Marcus Mariota had a rushing touchdown to go along with a passing touchdown. The defense was able to sack Tom Savage four times, and forced him into a LeShaun Sims interception. High octane play by both the Titans and the Jaguars have set the table for a very interesting AFC South race.
8. Carolina Panthers- On offense, Cam Newton went out and produced to help the Panthers in any way he could. The same can't be said for the rest of his offense, who could give no aide to Newton. The quarterback put up 187 passing yards, along with two passing touchdowns. Newton also led the team in rushing, as Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey were suspect. The defense, which is normally strong, got torched by the two-headed monster that is Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Luke Keuchly recorded nine tackles, two being for a loss. While this loss hurts the Panthers in terms of the divisional race, but they are still strong on a wild card spot.
7. Seattle Seahawks- Last week, I mentioned Russell Wilson as a potential dark horse candidate to win the NFL MVP. This statement was further validated by his performance in the victory over the NFL-best Eagles. Wilson played dynamically, throwing for three touchdowns and 227 yards. He is the unquestioned leader of the team. On defense, the Seahawks don't seem to be taking the loss of Richard Sherman too hard. They held one of the best offenses to a mere 10 points, and were able to sack Carson Wentz three times. Three Seahawks finished with over ten tackles, led by Bobby Wagner, who finished with 13. The Seahawks made a strong statement that they are not to be taken lightly with their primetime win.
6. New Orleans Saints- New Orleans, known for their Jazz scene, has seen a new act fill the city with excitement. Much like a boisterous saxophone or trumpet, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have come out with a bang. The two combined for 145 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and also 103 yards in the air. 248 yards from two players? That will make Drew Brees happy, who has been able to play a more efficient game after seeing some pressure taken off. The defense displayed a true team effort, with 20 players recording at least one tackle. The victory helped the team stay on top of the Panthers in a highly competitive NFC South race.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers- Although they defeated the Bengals on Monday night, the Steelers aren't exactly moving in the right direction. They defeated the Bengals by a meek three points, but this isn't the only time they have barely slipped by a weak team. Three of their last four wins have come by only three points, and it wasn't exactly the highest level of competition. Those three victories came over the Packers, Colts, and of course the Bengals. The positive thing is that they are winning however, and they are currently atop the AFC North. JuJu Smith-Schuster will be missed, as he received a one game suspension for his block in the physical game on Monday. Ryan Shazier will also be missed, and everyone is hoping for a healthy recovery from and injury that left him unable to move his legs.
4. Minnesota Vikings- In a tight defensive game, the Vikings were able to neutralize Matt Ryan and the Falcons. It was a cleanly played match, both teams not committing a turnover. That's not to say that the defense wasn't effective, because they certainly were. Erik Kendricks and Xavier Rhodes both were studs on the defense. However, it would be a more dangerous defense if they were able to get to the quarterback. They recorded no sacks in their victory over the Falcons. Case Keenum spread the ball to nine receivers to amass 227 yards and two touchdowns. With another Lions loss, the Vikings have an ironclad hold on the division.
3. L.A Rams- It is exciting to see youth ruling the NFC. Much like the Eagles, the Rams are young, but extremely talented. Todd Gurley rules the offense, and he lead the team in receiving and rushing yards in the victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Possibly the best part about the team, and mainly the reason that it is so good, is that they are elite on both sides of the ball. They can usually rely on Todd Gurley to have over 100 yards of total offense, and they can usually rely on Aaron Donald to get to the quarterback. He sacked Blaine Gabbert twice, and the team got to him a total of six times. The Rams seem to be the best candidate to take down the Eagles, and they will have to opportunity to on Sunday.
2. New England Patriots- Remember when the defense of this Patriots team was under heavy scrutiny for giving up too many points? Me neither. Albeit against the Bills, the Patriots still held a team to three points, which is impressive no matter who you're up against. What was equally as impressive was the fact that Tom Brady had an off game, throwing an interception and no touchdowns. Dion Lewis carried the offensive torch, nearly hitting 100 yards on the ground for the second straight week. What makes this team better than the other AFC power, the Steelers, is the way that they decisively win games. When the Patriots beat a lesser team, they beat them down and demoralize them.
1. Philadelphia Eagles- The Eagles were tested, and the Eagles failed. When put on the spot on the road, this team failed to produce. However, failure is exactly what this team needs. With their schedule prior to this game, the victories were handed to Wentz and his teammates. This is very important for the Eagles to know what it is like to face a hostile crowd. Wentz and Agholor are building a beautiful relationship, and the duo combined for 141 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles will have another chance to prove themselves against the Rams, as the travel to Los Angeles to take on the NFC West division leaders.
Dalton Allison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.