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New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)
October 18th, 2023
Through the first six weeks of the season in the NFC, teams are off to a fast start in the East, North, and West divisions. The South is another story.
We’ll preview key storylines and provide picks below.
Philadelphia holds a one-game advantage over Dallas heading into Week 7 and while the Cowboys still have a pair of regular-season games versus Philadelphia to assert their superiority, the hierarchy appears clear in the NFC East. After reaching the Super Bowl last year, the Eagles upgraded their defense in the offseason, possess the offensive firepower to score points in bunches when needed, and rate as extremely formidable on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Pick: Despite sustaining their first loss in Week 6, Philadelphia has confirmed themselves as one of the NFL’s top teams along with Kansas City and San Francisco. Dallas went the other way after starting strong, with ugly setbacks. Philadelphia’s schedule won’t be easy — the Eagles also play Miami in Week 7, Kansas City in Week 11, and San Francisco in Week 13 — but Philadelphia remains on track to win their second consecutive East title.
Past and present#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/ekz6wORunC— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 17, 2023
Past and present#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/ekz6wORunC
For any seasoned NFL observer, it doesn’t feel right saying Detroit is the best team in the NFC North, but the evidence leaves no doubt. The Lions opened last year 1-6, but generated enthusiasm for the 2023 campaign by finishing 8-2 over the final 10 weeks. They’re meeting expectations in 2023, building a 2 1/2-game lead over the nearest challenger, Green Bay, by opening 5-1, and Detroit looks poised to make a serious impact for years to come.
Pick: Detroit, which is tied for the best record in the NFL with Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, and San Francisco entering Week 7, lays over the hapless competition in the North division. They’re the second-biggest divisional favorite after San Francisco. After years of ineptitude, the Lions are starting to build a culture. Dan Campbell has emerged as a leading Coach of the Year candidate, and Detroit finally has the organizational stability to accumulate and develop young players. The Lions will look to make a serious impact in the postseason.
🏈30/44 | 353 yards🏈2 TD | 0 INT🏈107.5 rtgLet's get @JaredGoff16 that @FedEx Air Player of the Week!🗳 https://t.co/QMeNCMIHXO pic.twitter.com/qphgtSwzHD— Detroit Lions (@Lions) October 17, 2023
🏈30/44 | 353 yards🏈2 TD | 0 INT🏈107.5 rtgLet's get @JaredGoff16 that @FedEx Air Player of the Week!🗳 https://t.co/QMeNCMIHXO pic.twitter.com/qphgtSwzHD
While most of the divisional races in the NFC appear straightforward, the South promises to deliver drama. Winless Carolina has no hope, but Tampa Bay (3-2), Atlanta (3-3), and New Orleans (3-3) are all in the mix heading into Week 7. The standard of play may not be high, Tampa won the South with an 8-9 record last year, and it would be surprising to see any team win 10 games during the 2023 regular season, but the race promises to be compelling.
Pick: New Orleans’ odds have dropped, from -125 entering the year to -160, despite its lack of scoring power, failing to exceed 20 points in four of its first six games. The defense remains stout, Derek Carr leads all signal callers in the division, and the Saints won’t face a daunting schedule. The top two remaining opponents, Detroit and Miami, will both visit the Superdome, and New Orleans looks poised to win its eighth divisional championship since the NFL expansion and realignment in 2002.
#Saints look to execute better in red zone'We have the talent to do the right things, but we have to do the right things, even if the look may change.'✍️ @JohnDeShazier | 🗞️ https://t.co/rievKWh6Zh pic.twitter.com/di1nCpEKAh— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 16, 2023
#Saints look to execute better in red zone'We have the talent to do the right things, but we have to do the right things, even if the look may change.'✍️ @JohnDeShazier | 🗞️ https://t.co/rievKWh6Zh pic.twitter.com/di1nCpEKAh
Injuries dashed San Francisco’s Super Bowl hopes in recent years, and the Niners appeared to have dodged a bullet in Week 6, as Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Trent Williams left an upset loss to Cleveland with injuries. They appear to have avoided any long-term issues, all are considered “day-to-day” in advance of Week 7, and San Francisco doesn’t project to face a serious challenge from Los Angeles or Seattle, who figure to battle for runner-up honors in the NFC West.
Pick: Fans will continue to hold their breath when it comes to health because San Francisco has all the tools to make a serious run for its sixth Super Bowl ring. Brock Purdy continues to progress in his first full season at quarterback, it’s a favorable spot as the Niners don’t need him to do too much, mainly avoid turnovers, and San Francisco will make a push for home-field advantage while repeating its divisional title.
"We'll learn from it, watch the tape, look at it hard internally and be better from it."What the 49ers had to say following #SFvsCLE:— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 16, 2023
"We'll learn from it, watch the tape, look at it hard internally and be better from it."What the 49ers had to say following #SFvsCLE:
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