The Philadelphia Eagles have the NFL's best record at 8-1 and are considered favourites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl but the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings staked their claims on Sunday.
While the Eagles were on their bye week before taking on the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday, they watched as NFC rivals the Saints, Rams and Vikings posted respective wins over Buffalo Bills, the Houston Texans and the Washington Redskins.
All three teams improved to 7-2 and the Saints tied the Eagles with the season's longest winning streak thanks to their seventh successive victory – a 47-10 rout of the Buffalo Bills.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees did not throw a touchdown pass against the Bills, but he did not have to as the Saints ran for six touchdowns.
The Vikings also had an impressive road win as Case Keenum threw four touchdown passes in a 38-30 win over the Redskins.
Keenum was picked twice, but a 21-point second quarter helped the Vikings hold a 28-17 half-time lead. A seven-yard touchdown pass to Jarius Wright in the third quarter extended the margin and the Vikings held off the Redskins for the win.
Then there are the Rams, who must be taken seriously as their big-play offense continues to roll with a 33-7 win against the Texans.
After sputtering with just three field goals in the first half, the Rams erupted with three touchdowns in the third quarter as Robert Woods had the best game of his career.
Woods, who had just three 100-yard receiving games over the previous four seasons, caught eight passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. The big play was a 94-yard strike from Jared Goff, who threw for 355 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Goff has just one interception over his last four games and now has 16 touchdowns to go with four picks on the season. With seven wins under first-year head coach Sean McVay, the Rams have matched their best single-season win totals under previous coaches Jeff Fisher and Steve Spagnuolo.
SIZZLING SAINTS SCORE SIX RUSHING TDS
The Saints had not had five rushing touchdowns in a game since 1979. They posted a franchise-record six in their rout of the Bills. Mark Ingram led the way with three scores and 131 rushing yards, but even quarterback Brees ran one in from seven yards out.
It was just the 14th time in NFL history, including the postseason, that a team had six or more rushing touchdowns in a game and first since the Patriots had six rushing scores in a 2013 playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Kansas City Chiefs were the last team with a least six rushing scores in a regular-season games, scoring eight times on the ground in a crushing victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
With 215 passing yards against the Dallas Cowboys, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan became the fastest quarterback with 40,000 career passing yards — reaching the mark in 151 games. Ryan (40,073) is the 19th player in NFL history with at least 40,000 passing yards and sits just behind Johnny Unitas (40,239) for 18th on the NFL's all-time passing list.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had five catches for 97 yards with a touchdown in Pittsburgh's win over the Colts. Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal and had two extra points. It was the first time in NFL history a player under the age of 21 (Smith-Schuster, 20 years old) and a player over the age of 40 (Vinatieri, 44 years old) each scored a point in the same game.
HARRIS SHINES FOR REDSKINS
Redskins receiver Maurice Harris, promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week, made had an incredible touchdown catch for the first score of Washington's loss to the Vikings.
The Jaguars turned a fake punt into a 56-yard Corey Grant touchdown run.
Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams flipped his hips to haul in a perfect pass from Brett Hundley to clinch a win over the Chicago Bears.
The Rams got a 94-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff and Robert Woods in their victory against the Texans.
KEENUM IS A BRIDGEWATER FAN
Keenum on seeing Teddy Bridgewater in uniform on the sideline as his backup: "I may have a Teddy Bridgewater jersey at home. I'm a big fan of his."
Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, whose team remain winless, on social media criticism: "Twitter can blow up as far as I'm concerned."
Kyle Shanahan on getting his first win as head coach of the 49ers: "I got that monkey off my back. Now I have to get the second one before that becomes a monkey too."
Green Bay Packers 23-16 Chicago Bears
New Orleans Saints 47-10 Buffalo Bills
Detroit Lions 38-24 Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers 20-17 Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars 20-17 (OT) Los Angeles Chargers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15-10 New York Jets
Tennessee Titans 24-20 Cincinnati Bengals
Minnesota Vikings 38-30 Washington Redskins
Los Angeles Rams 33-7 Houston Texans
Atlanta Falcons 27-7 Dallas Cowboys
San Francisco 49ers 31-21 New York Giants
New England Patriots 41-16 Denver Broncos
18. Februar 2018
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