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January 23, 2023

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Conference championship round edition, Cowboys and Giants are dead

Eagles NFL
121122DakPrescottDanielJones Danielle Parhizkaran/Imagn Content Services, LLC

Daniel Jones and Dak Prescott

And then there were two. The divisional round of the NFL playoffs is in the books, and only the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers remain. Obviously, we have two new obituaries to write for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.



Giants: Over the five years preceding the 2022 season, the Giants had a share of the worst record in the NFL at 22-59 (0.272), with a point differential over that span of -530. In 2021, they were a laughingstock, embarrassing themselves seemingly on a weekly basis. 

The owner was kicking press box trash cans after losses, they had a "free medium Pepsi" giveaway during which a bunch of season ticket holders were told they were ineligible for their free medium Pepsi, their head coach tried to assuage their fans by proclaiming that the Giants "ain't some clown show organization," and he followed up those comments by calling QB sneaks on second and third downs to give his team more room to punt. There was more, but that's just a small sampling.

In 2022, the Giants went from bumbling buffoons to competency 🥂🍾. They went 9-7-1 during the regular season, and won their first playoff game since the 2011 season, beating the overrated Vikings on the road. 

Of course, it all came crashing down when they ran into a good team in the playoffs, and were blown out 38-7 in a game in which they were never competitive. That led to reactions such as this:

Mike my man, this is not the classy, top-tier organization that the Giants want you to think they are. Over the last decade, they're the Browns. They're the Jaguars. They're the Jets. They're the Commanders. Ehhhh, OK, maybe not the Commanders. That's too far. 

But this season was probably the absolute best that even the most delusional Giants fans could have reasonably hoped for at the start of the season. They shed their "clown show" status, and honestly, that's pretty big. They were somehow one of the final eight teams still standing, despite finishing the season with a negative point differential and a 21st overall DVOA ranking. They were overachievers, and they should be celebrated.

There will be plenty of time for angst next season when they go 7-10 because they ran it back with Daniel Jones and the rest of their crappy roster.


Cowboys: The Cowboys haven't been to the NFC Championship Game since the 1995 season. Since then, here's how many times each NFC team has made a Conference Championship Game appearance:

Team NFCCG appearances 
Eagles, 49ers 
Rams, Vikings, Panthers, Falcons 
Saints, Seahawks, Giants, Buccaneers 
Cardinals, Bears 
Cowboys, Commanders, Lions 

Unlike the Commanders and Lions, the Cowboys have had a lot of chances to get there, but they now have seven consecutive losses in the divisional round of the playoffs. They have also lost five times in the wildcard round during their NFCCG drought. In terms of entertainment value, those playoff losses rarely disappoint. Something funny happens at the end of most of those games. 

On Sunday night, in what was shaping up to be just a normal, respectable loss, Mike McCarthy was like, "Nope, Ima make this memorable."

I wonder how much time they wasted in practice repping that play.

Because of that play, this game now makes my official "Cowboys playoff ending power rankings" (last 25 years):

1) The Tony Romo fumbled snap: Iconic. The 🐐 of Cowboys playoff failures.

2) Dez didn't catch it: In 2022 this is a catch. By rule, it pretty clearly was not a catch in 2014.

3) The Cowboys run out of time: McCarthy called an asinine play that required the Cowboys and the officiating crew to work together to spot and snap the ball with time ticking down. The Cowboys spotted the ball themselves three yards past where Dak Prescott slid, the umpire actually did them a favor by only moving it back a foot or so, and the clock expired before Dallas got the snap off. Mike McCarthy then blamed the officials for not spotting it fast enough, and even said the play call "was the right decision," lol.

4) 1 seed one-and-done: The Cowboys got a first-round bye in 2016, and appeared primed for a potential Super Bowl run, but late in the game against the Packers, Aaron Rodgers hit Jared Cook for a chunk play that put the Packers in field goal range, and Mason Crosby took over from there. I always marvel at how this kick looks initially like it's going to go wide left, but miraculously corrects itself and finds its way through the uprights. You can actually see the very short-lived glimmer of hope in the fans' faces in the background when they think for a split second that this kick was going to miss.

5) Zeke plays center, gets wrecked: As shown above.

Honestly, "Cowboys Playoff Loss Day" should be a national holiday. Their playoff games should always be scheduled on Sunday, and if they lose nobody has to go to work the next day.

When the 2022 Cowboys were playing their best brand of football, they could beat any team in the NFL. They played some games this season in which they were legitimately impressive, notably against the Vikings, the second matchup against the Eagles, and their wildcard playoff win over the Buccaneers.

However, they were plagued by inconsistency, and let's all be honest, Cowboys fans — Dak Prescott kinda stunk this season. I mean, the guy led the league in INTs despite missing five games. Oh and by the way, he turns 30 in July, and is scheduled to count for $49 million on Dallas' 2023 salary cap. 





2) 49ers (15-4): The 49ers' roster is stacked on both sides of the ball, and their 12-game winning streak is obviously very impressive, but holy crap has Brock Purdy gotten extraordinarily lucky to have a boatload of "could/should be interceptions" fall to the ground. It's only a matter of time before he has a three-INT day and Niners flame out, right? Then again, he only needs that luck for two more games.

Last week: 1


1) Eagles (15-3): After the Eagles had three consecutive clunkers to close out the regular season, there were legitimate questions as to whether they could regain their "best team in the NFL" form that they displayed for the better part of the season.

But after seeing Jalen Hurts and Lane Johnson (mostly) unencumbered by their respective injuries against the Giants on Saturday night, they appear to be that alpha dog once again.

Last week: 2

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