Best team in the NFC at the season’s midway point?
We’ve had New Orleans ranked here as the NFC’s top team for several weeks (and No. 2 overall behind New England), and that was before Drew Brees’ return from a thumb injury.
But there’s a change at the top of the NFC this week.
The San Francisco 49ers, 7-0 entering their Thursday-night game against Arizona, are impossible to ignore. The Niners have the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFC (29.6 points) and No. 1 scoring defense in the NFC (11.0), with a point differential of plus-130 through seven games.
For comparison, the Saints’ point differential is plus-39, the Packers’ is plus-52 and the Seahawks’ is plus-12.
This week’s Times’ Ten:
1. New England Patriots (8-0)
The Patriots’ defense has allowed just two passing touchdowns in eight games, with 19 interceptions and 31 sacks, both tops in the NFL.
2. San Francisco 49ers (7-0)
Is it crazy to think Nick Bosa could not only be the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year but also the defensive player of the year? Entering Thursday night’s game against Arizona, Bosa had seven sacks in his first seven NFL games and has a pressure rate of 21.5%, best in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.
3. New Orleans Saints (7-1)
Who Dat? Welcome back, Brees.
4. Green Bay Packers (7-1)
Aaron Rodgers for MVP? A panel of writers and analysts from NFL.com voted and it was an even split between Rodgers and Russell Wilson.
5. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
We’ll know just how good the Vikings are 10 days from now after road games at Kansas City and Dallas.
6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
Can the Ravens be the first team to challenge the Patriots? New England is favored by 3.5 points on the road.
7. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3)
Chiefs are hopeful Patrick Mahomes can return from his knee injury ahead of Vikings’ visit this weekend.
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-2)
Weird to say, but Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay feels like a must-win for the Hawks ahead of the Week 10 Monday night game in San Francisco.
9. Houston Texans (5-3)
Can the Texans’ defense survive without J.J. Watt?
10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
Ezekiel Elliott’s last two games: 61 total touches, 300 scrimmage yards, 2 TDs.