The NFL has an amazing story going on in the NFC right now of a team that has seemingly come out of nowhere to show that they are a legitimate threat to represent the conference in the Super Bowl.
The Eagles? Saints? Rams?
Yes, yes, and yes. All of the above.
All three teams enter the midway point of the season leading their respective divisions with six wins or more a year after they finished with a losing record.
The other division leader in the NFC? That would be the Vikings, who have scratched and clawed their way to a 6-2 record despite playing most of their games with their third-string quarterback and their star rookie running back on Injured Reserve. Oh, and their stud wide receiver has missed a few games as well, but that seems minor compared to the other things they’ve had to deal with so far this season.
Is there any other sport in which every division in an entire conference could be essentially turned upside down from the season before? It’s remarkable and frankly exactly what the NFL wants and needs as they market the idea of hope for all 32 franchises every offseason.
Sunday was just the latest exhibit for why these teams aren’t only in position to potentially go on a Super Bowl run, but very deserving of that run as well.
Let’s start with the Eagles, since they are the most obvious example of the incredible change of fortunes that can happen in the NFL. They finished 7-9 a year ago after getting off to a fast start, yet have already exceeded that win total with an NFL record 8-1 mark heading into their bye week. Their second-year quarterback, Carson Wentz, usually a key component of any massive turnaround like this, is probably the favorite for MVP so far this season as he leads the NFL with 23 touchdown passes.
He helped the Eagles torch one of the best defenses in the NFL in the Denver Broncos, 51-23, on Sunday in a game that wasn’t even as close as that score indicates.
Next, let’s talk Rams. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but they also have a second-year quarterback playing at a high level in order to get his team’s fortunes turned around from a rookie campaign in which he didn’t win a single one of his seven starts. Jared Goff has shown that either new Rams head coach Sean McVay really knows what he’s doing or that former head coach Jeff Fisher really didn’t. Or both.
Either way, the Rams’ bye week didn’t slow down their momentum one iota as they went to New York and embarrassed the Giants on their home field to the tune of 51-17.
Then you have the Saints. They don’t have a new head coach or a young emerging quarterback. Instead, they have a rebuilt defense and improved offense thanks primarily to an offseason in which everything general manager Mickey Loomis touched seemingly turned to gold. Not only do they have one of the best rookie draft classes in recent memory with Marcus Lattimore, Ryan Ramcyzk, Alvin Kamara, Alex Anzalone and Marcus Williams all making major contributions, but free agent additions like A.J Klein have proven to be very wise investments thus far as well.
After losing their first two games, New Orleans has reeled off six consecutive victories, including a 30-10 thrashing of division rival Tampa Bay on Sunday that so frustrated the Bucs that they resorted to cheap shots, including one that should’ve warranted an ejection for wide receiver Mike Evans.
While the AFC looks like it may come down to the Steelers or Patriots as usual, the NFC is the perfect model for the ability to make the quick turnaround that the NFL sells so hard and thus covets so much.
And at this rate they don’t have to sell very hard because the Eagles, Rams and Saints are doing it just fine by themselves, thank you.