With Bridgewater Out, Who is the 5th-Best Team in NFC?

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury in practice Tuesday, and he will likely miss the duration of the 2016 season.

That puts a significant damper on the Vikings’ chances to make the playoffs, as career journeyman Shaun Hill is set to take over the starting quarterback job. Their season is by no means down the drain, but it seems unlikely that they’ll get anywhere near the 11-5 record they compiled in a breakout 2015 campaign.

If Minnesota is indeed out of contention for the top handful of teams in the NFC, which teams make up that handful?

The consensus is four teams, in some order, make up the top tier: Arizona, Carolina, Green Bay and Seattle. Each of those teams won at least 10 games a season ago, and the Vikings were the only other 10-win team from the conference. The Redskins had the next-best record at 9-7.

The two big questions that remain: What order do those four teams fall in, and who is the fifth-best team?

Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier ranked their top five NFC teams on Wednesday, taking Bridgewater’s injury into account, and their rankings were somewhat similar, but only one team appeared in the same slot for both hosts.

Grant Paulsen

1. Panthers
2. Cardinals
3. Seahawks
4. Packers
5. Cowboys

Danny Rouhier

1. Cardinals
2. Seahawks
3. Panthers
4. Packers
5. Giants

The Panthers were the conference’s representative in the Super Bowl last season, and they’ll have top receiver Kelvin Benjamin back, improving a wide receiving corps that was considered the team’s weakest area in 2015. But they also lost top cornerback Josh Norman to the Redskins, and veteran presence Jared Allen — who contributed 2.0 sacks in 12 games with the team last year — and many think their defense will take a hit.

The Cardinals had the NFC’s second-best record, at 13-3, and they didn’t have much significant turnover on their roster.

The Packers will have top receiver Jordy Nelson back from injury, and his presence should benefit the offense.

The Seahawks saw workhorse running back Marshawn Lynch retire, but Russell Wilson is coming off the best season of his career, and they always boast one of the league’s top defenses.

Various staff members of 106.7 The Fan chimed in with their rankings, and most agree on the top four teams. The fifth team was a wild card, and there was significant disparity in that slot. Six different teams — aside from those top four teams — crack the top five in the staff rankings.

Johnny “Cakes” Auville

1. Cardinals
2. Panthers
3. Seahawks
4. Packers
5. Redskins

Chris Russell

1. Cardinals
2. Packers
3. Seahawks
4. Panthers
5. Redskins

Pete Medhurst

1. Seahawks
2. Cardinals
3. Packers
4. Panthers
5. Redskins

Matt “Drab T-Shirt” Cahill

1. Seahawks
2. Cardinals
3. Cowboys
4. Panthers
5. Vikings

Matt “Valdez” Myers

1. Packers
2. Panthers
3. Redskins
4. Cardinals
5. Buccaneers

Adam “A-Wadd” Epstein

1. Cardinals
2. Panthers
3. Seahawks
4. Packers
5. Redskins

Brendan Darr

1. Cardinals
2. Panthers
3. Packers
4. Seahawks
5. Redskins

Thom Daly

1. Seahawks
2. Panthers
3. Packers
4. Cardinals
5. Redskins

Robert Bode

1. Cardinals
2. Panthers
3. Seahawks
4. Packers
5. Buccaneers

Tom “Brock” Plymin

1. Cardinals
2. Panthers
3. Packers
4. Seahawks
5. Redskins

Talib Babb

1. Packers
2. Seahawks
3. Panthers
4. Redskins
5. Saints

Chris Lingebach

1. Packers
2. Panthers
3. Seahawks
4. Redskins
5. Cardinals

Bryan Frantz

1. Cardinals
2. Seahawks
3. Packers
4. Panthers
5. Giants

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