This previous weekend saw the continuation of the most unusual and strange NFL season to date. With rising COVID-19 numbers and empty stadiums, fans braced themselves for what would be another hectic Sunday in the NFL for the NFC side. With some teams cementing their consistency and others in free fall, Sunday helped us see with even more clarity the playoff picture for this expanded playoff season. Here is your recap of Sunday’s NFC games.
Tom Brady is still elite
Coming off the back of a humiliating defeat to their divisional rivals, the New Orleans Saints, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were eager to bounce back with a victory against the Carolina Panthers. Early in the game, a check down pass to running back Ronald Jones II was caught with some butterfingers and eventually fumbled, allowing the Panthers to scoop it up. Minutes later, former Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a touchdown pass to put the underdog Panthers up 7–0. The two teams went into the break tied 17–17. Ronald Jones II defined the third quarter with a breathtaking 98-yard touchdown run. From then on out, the Buccaneers began clicking on both sides of the ball, with Brady, Brown, Fournette, Pierre-Paul, Gronkowski and the rest of the 2015 NFL all-stars finding their entire rhythm. The Buccaneers ended up outscoring the Panthers in the second-half 29–6, with Brady finishing with a vintage 341-yard and three-touchdown performance. Should the chemistry begin to click even more for this juggernaut offense, and we may have ourselves a real Super Bowl contender in the making. Final score: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 46, Carolina Panthers 23.
Could the Giants really win the NFC East?
In a year where nothing can be guaranteed, the NFC East continues to show its consistency and reliability with another horror show over the weekend. The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants battled it out for what could be a pivotal game for the winner of the division. Yes, the 3–4–1 Eagles and the 2–7 Giants were competing for the top of an NFL division. You read that right.
The game started with Daniel Jones scoring an eye-popping 34-yard touchdown to put the Empire State up 7–0. Excluding a massive 56-yard touchdown run from the lightning-quick Boston Scott, the Eagles’ play on both sides of the ball was disoriented and disorganized, and Giants QB Daniel Jones ate them alive for it. Throughout the entire game, Jones dropped dime after dime, finishing with 244 yards and eventually a Giants win. This puts the Giants in a striking distance of the division title and a playoff berth. However, with a possible wildcard game against either the Buccaneers, Saints, Cardinals, Rams or Seahawks, both teams could be in for brutal losses. Final score: New York Giants 27, Philadelphia Eagles 17.
Seattle in free fall
Once deemed a top Super Bowl contender led by the MVP favorite Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks looked pedestrian and average as they geared up to face the Los Angeles Rams. Hipster NFL fans’ prodigal son, Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay, lined up play after play to release their Hollywood aerial attack. Rams quarterback Jared Goff lobbed throws after repeated play-action plays which saw the Rams go up 17–7. The second half saw an unusually muted Seattle offense unable to break Aaron Donald and his defense of angels. Wilson and the Seahawks only scored three points in the second half as the Rams cruised to victory, giving both teams a 6–3 record. However, in a generationally gifted division which consists of the defending NFC champions along with two teams now situated at 6–3, losing three of the last four games is simply not good enough for a Seattle team with major Super Bowl aspirations. With the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks all tied for the top of the division, neutrals should get their popcorn out to see how this division finishes. Final score: Los Angeles Rams 23, Seattle Seahawks 16.
Other scores from around the NFC:
Packers squeak out a win against the Jaguars
Yes, top of the NFC Green Bay Packers had a surprisingly tense and rigorous Sunday against a team currently competing with the New York Jets for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. The game remained close throughout, with Green Bay having to deal with explosive plays from Jacksonville Jaguars punt returner Keelan Cole. Heading into the final stretch of the fourth quarter, the Jaguars were actually winning the game 20–17 before a 75-yard touchdown drive led by Aaron Rodgers sealed the deal for his Packers. The Packers now sit atop of the NFC. Final score: Green Bay Packers 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 20.
Brees gets injured in a game that was a breeze
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints battled the battered and bruised San Francisco 49ers on Sunday which saw the Saints cruise to a victory. The big news coming out of that game was the injury to Drew Brees who broke his ribs and suffered a collapsed lung after a nasty hit from 49ers defensive end Kentavius Street. Final score: New Orleans Saints 27, San Francisco 49ers 13.
An NFC North battle for the (mediocre) ages
The Minnesota Vikings went up against the Chicago Bears. Scoring only two field goals in the first half, the Bears offense appeared absolutely devoid of any sort of coherent plan. Quarterback Kirk Cousins broke his Monday night curse to bring his Vikings a morale-boosting victory. Meanwhile, the Windy City’s playoff chances seem grim, especially after the injury to starting quarterback Nick Foles. Final score: Minnesota Vikings 19, Chicago Bears 13.