The Check-down Check-up: Week Fourteen (2020)

NFC North

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay has wrestled away the NFC’s top seed from the Saints, now it’s just a matter of holding onto it. Comparing the schedules, it looks like the Packers have a really good shot at winning out. The Pack controls its own destiny, which is huge in this regard, and the Panthers, Titans, and Bears are all very winnable games. The NFC will likely be up for grabs until week seventeen, and I’d love to see a playoff dogfight between New Orleans and Green Bay.

Verdict: 9.25/10, Check Up

Chicago Bears

The Bears had one last big win in them for the dying days of the 2020 season, as Mitch Trubisky led the way over Houston. That being said, it’s really, really hard to have faith in this team. With their games coming up, it looks like Da Bears will finish out Da Season 1-2. This team needs a retooling, and it starts at the top with Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy.

Verdict: 4/10, Check Down

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions have shown more fight since firing Matt Patricia than they did during seemingly any of the games with him. They might not be a “good” team, but the Lions are feisty on both sides of the ball when they want to be. This feels like a team that wants to be coached, and wants to be disciplined, but they need quite a few pieces to be competitive.

Verdict: 4/10, Check Down

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings didn’t need this one, but they certainly really could have used it in the NFC playoff race. The Vikings need to win out now, and in addition to that, they need so much help from around the league. It’s not impossible, but it certainly doesn’t look good for Minnesota. This week, they’ll see the Bears, but week sixteen is the big one. A big time matchup with the New Orleans Saints will almost certainly decide the Vikes’ playoff fate this year.

Verdict: 5.75/10, Check Back Next Week

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are a truly awful football team, as evidenced by Baltimore completely dominating them last week. The Ravens had 295 rushing yards against Dallas, and even still, Dallas came out and crushed the Bengals this week. The NFC East has, unbelievably, been one of the winningest divisions in football over the past couple of weeks. Going forward, the Cowboys might not win a game, but it sure would be funny if they ended up 3-0 and getting into the playoffs.

Verdict: 2.75/10, Check Down

Philadelphia Eagles

Doug Peterson finally made the right choice, pulling Carson Wentz in favor of Jalen Hurts. The spark that Hurts showed in limited action against the Packers continued throughout the entire game in week fourteen, taking down the top-seeded Saints. Hurts will be the starter going forward, with a sure quarterback controversy to come out of Philadelphia in 2021. At the very least, Eagles training camp will be fun to watch.

Verdict: 2/10, Check Down

Washington Football Team

Washington has an incredibly impressive defense, highlighted by their defensive line and Chase Young, at this point all but a shoe-in for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Football Team has the inside track to winning their division, but they probably need to win at least two of their next three to lock up the NFC East. It’s hard not to root for this team, especially with Ron Rivera at the helm.

Verdict: 5/10, Check Back Next Week

New York Giants

The Giants finally came back down to earth. Despite their impressive defense, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals shredded Big Blue to a 26-7 finish. New York has a huge matchup on Sunday Night Football with Cleveland, but with Daniel Jones dealing with another leg injury, I can’t say I particularly like their chances. The Giants’ chance to win the NFC East is slim, but if they beat the Browns, they could be well on their way.

Verdict: 4/10, Check Down

NFC South

New Orleans Saints

A late rally from the Saints was not enough to come back against Hurts’ rejuvenated Eagles team. The Saints need Drew Brees back if they want to reclaim the NFC’s top seed, and fortunately, they should be getting him back next week. New Orleans no longer controls their own destiny, and they have to hope the Packers drop one of their next three. The Saints aren’t exactly a young team, especially at quarterback, and Brees needs that bye more than any other quarterback right now.

Verdict: 7/10, Check Up

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons losing 20-17 in the closing moments, after being up 17-10 at halftime? You don’t say.

Verdict: 4/10, Check Down

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers should be gearing up for draft season right about now. They should potential early, but this team simply does not have the talent to be consistently winning games in any capacity. On the bright side, they’ve found their coach of the future in Matt Rhule, who seems to be the second-best rookie head coach behind Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland. If this team can get themselves a quarterback like Zach Wilson or Trey Lance in the draft, they could be dangerous in the coming years.

Verdict: 2.25/10, Check Down

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have started 1-0 on their quest to win out and clinch a playoff spot. It would be just like Tom Brady to look old all year, and then go and win a Super Bowl for Tampa Bay, but this Bucs team doesn’t seem to have it all together. Instead, I think their upcoming ceiling is the NFC Championship game. I cannot see this team beating either of the NFC’s top two seeds, but right now, they’re looking nice to get into the postseason.

Verdict: 7.25/10, Check Up

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks righted their wrong against the Giants by ripping through the New York Jets. Russell Wilson put on a masterful performance against the worst team in the NFL, throwing four touchdowns to just one interception, and completing over 77% of his passes. The ‘Hawks are back on track, and I expect them to stay on track against Washington before a really tough game against the Rams. This is definitely a playoff team on paper, but we’ll have to see if they can hold on through the last three weeks.

Verdict: 7.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams took a stick of dynamite to my lock this past week, suffocating the Patriots in a 24-3 win. LA’s defense is phenomenal, and their offense is good enough to keep the ball moving, even if it’s not as spectacular as it was in 2018. This Rams team could end up in the Super Bowl once again, and against any AFC team not named the Chiefs, I think I’d pick them to win it.

Verdict: 9.25/10, Check Up

San Francisco 49ers

I’m not sure what I can say about the 49ers that hasn’t already been said. This Super Bowl-caliber team, with a downright brilliant head coach, was marred by both injuries and COVID-19 throughout this season. They lost to a young upstart team in the form of Washington, and they might have one more win in them for the rest of the year. The 49ers are not very good, but not because they don’t have the talent. San Francisco just got extremely unlucky this season.

Verdict: 2/10, Check Down

Arizona Cardinals

For this week, the Cardinals have kept their grip on the NFC’s seventh playoff spot. In week fifteen, they’ll get to see an Eagles team led by Jalen Hurts, which could make for a thrilling late-season quarterback matchup. At the very least, they need to win their next two games to stay in their playoff spot for certain, and then it comes down to a final matchup with the Rams in a feature game at 4:25. This team is holding on, and a Vikings loss this week would give them some breathing room.

Verdict: 5/10, Check Back Next Week

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