By Justin Robertson
In what was considered to be one of the most boring games of the year, the week three matchup between the San Francisco Forty-Niners and the Los Angeles Rams turned out to be a candidate for the most breathtaking game of the year. After leaning on Todd Gurley’s three touchdown performance in the first half, the Rams lead by 11. After the half, the Niners made an astonishing comeback that included an onside kick recovery, two Carlos hyde touchdowns, and 19 fourth quarter points. However, this was not enough, as the Rams won the game with a final score of 41-39.
After four weeks of the NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, and the Los Angeles Rams are the leaders in their divisions, while the NFC North has a two way tie for first place between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. In what is perceived as one of the toughest divisions of football, the NFC East is looking very competitive, with the Philadelphia Eagles surprisingly in the lead, but the local Washington Redskins are not far behind. After losing last year’s Super Bowl, in what was one of the biggest collapses of all time, the Atlanta Falcons have looked like one of the most dominant teams in the NFL. Just like last year, Atlanta has a very explosive offense with a young and talented defense. Through four games, quarterback Matt Ryan has led the Falcons offense to a 3-1 record, while being in the top four in the NFL for total yards. The NFC West once again looks like a poor division, however the Rams have taken the lead for first. The Rams have looked like a completely different football team than last year, with a new head coach and sophomore quarterback, Jared Goff. While the Rams have excelled this year, Seattle, a usual super bowl contender, has struggled mightily, having a record of 2-2 after four weeks. Finally, the Detroit Lions have looked like one of the league's’ best defensive teams, creating an NFL leading 11 takeaways. When asked about the best team in the NFC, Glenelg Sophomore Cole Miller exclaimed, “Both the Packers and the Falcons have looked great so far, but because of Atlanta’s more young and promising defense, Atlanta has looked like the best team in the NFC so far.” While these teams are having success, other teams and individuals are not so lucky.
It did not take long for star players, such as David Johnson, to seriously get injured. Johnson, one of the most premiere running backs in the league, injured his wrist in the Cardinals’ week one game against the Detroit Lions. The injury required surgery and Johnson is now not expected to return until December, hurting the Cardinals’ playoff chances. While injuries can be a cruel cost of playing in the NFL, some of them have allowed rookies to jump up in the depth chart and contribute to their team's success.
For most players, they are already in full rhythm after three weeks of the 2017 NFL season, but for the 2017 NFC rookie class the journey has just begun. From learning playbooks to handling the pressure of being the face of their franchises, the first year for rookies is often the hardest. While most rookies need a year or two to come to their full skill level, some have already shown flashes of their potential. Second round pick, Dalvin Cook, for the Minnesota Vikings has already looked like a rookie of the year candidate. Through four weeks, Cook has racked up 444 total yards and two touchdowns, helping the Vikings jump to a record of 2-2. However, even the young Cook could not escape injuries, as he tore his ACL in week four, and is now out for the year. Eagles rookie kicker Jake Elliott has also shown what he can do on the field. After an injury to the original Eagles’ kicker, Philadelphia signed Elliott on September 12. The fifth round pick started his season off a little shaky, missing a two field goals in two starts, but he quickly redeemed himself, nailing a 61 yard field goal in week three to beat the Giants as time expired.
With nearly a fourth of the season finished, the NFC is shaping to be very thrilling. The teams currently first in their divisions have looked exceptional, however, there is still plenty of time for the teams behind to catch up. All it takes is an injury to a key player, or a rookie to live up to their potential, for a team to jump up in the standings, and hopefully go all the way to Super Bowl LII.