Last week saw the rich get richer in the NFC. The 49ers, Eagles, and Lions all won and, especially with San Francisco’s drubbing of Dallas, made it clear who the top three in the conference are. Will the Week 6 schedule allow this trio to further cement their playoff positions, or will some other teams start to close the gap?
The 49ers’ blowout of the Cowboys was certainly the biggest game of the week within the NFC. The Eagles’ road win over the Rams wasn’t without meaning; an in-conference victory and a loss for a potential wild card team. Detroit got an expected home win over the Panthers, but was dominant enough to still send a message.
Here are the updated NFC standings following Week 5. While the NFL hasn’t fully released data on tiebreakers yet, they are currently listing the Niners as the top team over the Eagles. Factors like common opponents and strength of schedule will become clearer in a few weeks.
- San Francisco (5-0 overall, 4-0 vs NFC)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-0 overall, 4-0 vs NFC)
- Detroit Lions (4-1 overall, 3-1 vs NFC)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1 overall, 3-1 vs NFC)
- Seattle Seahawks (3-1 overall, 3-1 vs NFC)
- Atlanta Falcons (3-2 overall, 2-1 vs NFC)
- Dallas Cowboys (3-2 overall, 1-2 vs NFC)
- New Orleans Saints (3-2 overall, 1-2 vs NFC)
- Green Bay Packers (2-3 overall, 2-2 vs NFC)
- Los Angeles Rams (2-3 overall, 1-2 vs NFC)
- Washington Commanders (2-3 overall, 1-2 vs NFC)
The Week 6 schedule features some intriguing matchups that could have major implications once we get to the end of the season. While other teams will be playing an AFC opponent, overall records are still the most important factor in the playoff discussion.
Cowboys @ Chargers
While the Kellen Moore Bowl may feel more personal than practical for Dallas, it’s still a crucial win they need to try and chase Philadelphia, and avoid limping into their bye week. 4-2 will feel much different than 3-3 when the Cowboys rest next week, and confidence will be needed with the Rams and Eagles coming up following the bye.
Eagles @ Jets
Other than their blowout loss to Dallas in Week 2, the Jets have been more competitive without Aaron Rodgers than most would have assumed. They only lost by three to Kansas City two weeks ago and are coming off a road win over Denver. Can they do the Cowboys a favor and upset the Eagles? Probably not, but that’s why it’s called an “upset.”
49ers @ Browns
Cleveland has been one of the hardest teams to figure out this year. They blew out Cincy in the opener, narrowly lost to Pittsburgh, blew out the Titans, and then got blown out by the Ravens. Which version of the Browns shows up on Sunday may not matter against arguably the NFL’s best team so far in 2023, but at least Cleveland will have extra rest coming off their bye. Like Eagles-Jets, let’s see if they can help Dallas out.
Lions @ Buccaneers
The current leaders of the NFC North and NFC South meet in a game that could be huge for tournament seeding. Detroit will likely run away with their division. Tampa Bay should have tougher fights with Atlanta and New Orleans, but is still the frontrunner. If the Lions post a big win here, it would seem to put them on their own tier behind the 49ers and Eagles but above the rest of the NFC.
For the Cowboys, it’s still early enough to hope for winning the NFC East. If that happens, it’d be good to be above as many division winners as possible for seeding purposes; hopefully the #2 seed at worst. To that end, it’s better to see Detroit lose this one.
Commanders @ Falcons
Washington needs this one badly to stay afloat in 2023. They have some extra rest coming off that ugly loss to Chicago last Thursday. Both teams will want it for the critical conference win and a potential head-to-head tiebreaker if they’re vying for wild card spots in January. For Cowboys fans, how you root here depends on which team you feel more threatened by as an eventual competitor for those same wild card spots. Given that, it’s probably better to see both teams at 3-3 than have the Falcons move to 4-2.
Seahawks @ Bengals
There’s no debating this one; Seattle is one of the top wild card threats to Dallas and every loss helps. The odds of them actually catching the 49ers in the NFC West are more mathematical than realistic at this point, so better that they just fall out of the race altogether.
Cardinals @ Rams
Same idea here, really. The Cardinals aren’t really a factor in 2023 (which makes Week 3 all the more embarrassing) so the best thing that can happen here is that they hang a loss on the Rams. While they’re only 2-3, Los Angeles has a coach and some key pieces that are capable of causing problems if they find their groove. It’s best for Dallas if they aren’t hanging around late in the year.
Saints @ Texans
While we never want good things for Houston, they’re in the AFC and their success doesn’t really affect the Cowboys. Meanwhile, New Orleans is currently tied with Dallas at 3-2 and in that wild card picture. Their loss is our gain.