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October 27, 2020

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 8

Eagles NFL
102620AndyDalton Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys are bad. #Analysis.

Week 7 of the NFL season is in the books, and we have one new obituary. No, it's not the Giants or the Cowboys. It's the 1-5 Vikings, who were on their bye this week, but started selling off talent and fell to four games behind the Packers.

Obituaries

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Vikings

Prior to the start of the 2020 season, the Vikings traded for Yannick Ngakoue, and they were praised far and wide. Six games into the season, they dealt him to a real contender.

"Get most back?" Lol what? They traded what is going to be a top 40 pick for a pick that will probably be somewhere in the 90's, for six games of Ngakoue.

Soon after making that trade, GM Rick Spielman then stated that it didn't mean that the season was over. Soooooo, you just traded for a guy two months ago, he produced 5 sacks in 6 games, and you then dealt him for 50 cents on the dollar, um, for fun?

Beyond Ngakoue, Spielman handed out questionable deals recently, from Kirk Cousins' $33 million/year extension, to injury-prone Dalvin Cook's five-year extension worth $63 million in September, after a slew of other teams around the league immediately regretted giving running backs lucrative contracts.

Additionally, on the offensive side of the ball, the Vikings have drafted 14(!) offensive linemen since 2015, and their offensive line still stinks. Defensively, they have gotten older, worse, and have suffered injuries, which has led them to allow 32 points per game through six games.

The Vikings will very likely be drafting in the top 10 in 2021, and they should consider a quarterback, but might not go that direction because they're saddled with Cousins through at least 2021. Their window for serious Super Bowl contention under Mike Zimmer seems to be over, and the closest they got was an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2017, where they entered Philly as favorites, and exited as 38-7 losers.

Graveyard

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Hierarchy

14) Giants (1-6): The Giants are a laughingstock in the NFL these days, and for good reason, since they have the worst record in the NFL since 2017, and they somehow lost a game on Thursday night that they had in the bag.

But you know what? They really didn't look that bad for the bulk of that game, and it's perhaps worth noting that there have been no leaks so far of players unhappy with the way Joe Judge is running the team, which felt like a strong possibility after Judge employed some high school nonsense in his training camp. By comparison, the Cowboys seem like a fractured team from the inside out.

So they have that going for them? (The bar for praise is low in the NFC East.)

Last week: 14

13) Cowboys (2-5): A week after getting torn apart by the Cardinals 38-10 in primetime, the Cowboys were embarrassed further by the Football Team 25-3 in Landover. Their point differential over the last two games is -50, bringing them to -67 on the season. Where does -67 rank?

 Team+/- Team +/- 
 Buccaneers+80 Panthers -6 
 Chiefs+75  Lions-9 
 Ravens+75  Browns-21 
 Steelers+65  Falcons-23 
 Cardinals+57  Raiders-26 
 Rams+52  Patri*ts-28 
 Dolphins+47  Bengals-31 
 49ers+45  Football Team-32 
 Colts+42  Eagles-33 
 Packers+38  Broncos-37 
 Titans+35  Vikings-37 
 Seahawks+31  Texans-51 
 Saints+6  Giants-52 
 Bears-2  Jaguars-66 
 Bills-4  Cowboys-67 
 Chargers-5  Jets-118 


That seems bad. #Analysis. Perhaps more troubling than their play on the field are the leaks that are coming from off of it. This time last week, Jane Slater of NFL Network reported that Cowboys players don't think the coaching staff is competent.

This week, head coach Mike McCarthy was upset that no Cowboys players came to the defense of quarterback Andy Dalton after he was hit with a disgusting cheap shot by Football Team LB Jon Bostic.

In case you missed that hit, here you go:

I mean, I was even mad at that hit watching it on TV.

As for the product on the field, the defense was atrocious from Day 1, but at least the offense was scoring points. Now? Not so much. The injury-challenged offensive line has gotten wrecked because of a complete lack of quality depth, and while Dak Prescott could still make plays because of his elusiveness, Dalton has had no chance. On the ground, the holes aren't often there, and even when they are, Ezekiel Elliott very clearly isn't close to the same player he was when he entered the league. That's the kind way of putting it. Another way to put it is that he has stunk this season.

Shootouts have become blowouts, and then on top of all the dysfunction at every level of the organization, you have this, lol:

It should be the fan base rubbing Tabasco in their eyes, not the defensive coordinator.

Oh and by the way, it was previously thought that Prescott's negotiating leverage took a hit when he got hurt. Yeah... no.

Last week: 11

12) Football Team (2-5): Previously, it was thought that the NFC East was a two-team race. That's still probably true, but the Football Team is one of those two teams, not the Cowboys. It should also be noted that the Football Team has the following four opponents:

  1. Giants: 1-6, -52 point differential
  2. At Lions: 3-3, -9 point differential
  3. Bengals: 1-5-1, -31 point differential
  4. At Cowboys: 2-5, -67 point differential

Add it all up, and the Football Team's next four opponents have a combined record of 7-19-1 (.350), with a combined point differential of -159.

10) Eagles (2-4-1): One of the concerns early in Carson Wentz's career was his ability to lead game-winning drives, as we documented during the 2018 season. He's been much better over the last two season on that front, and is actually tied for the NFL lead with three fourth quarter comebacks (a terribly flawed stat, but whatever).

When the Eagles were good, they just beat teams for four quarters and didn't need comebacks to win games. Now, they do, but at least Wentz is putting together impressive end-of-game drives when they matter most, notably against the Bengals, 49ers, Steelers, Ravens, and Giants.

Even at No. 10, the Eagles are still the highest-ranked NFC East team, as they're currently favored to win the division at -165 on FanDuel, according to TheLines.com.

Last week: 12 📈

9) Lions (3-3): This throw late in the fourth quarter by Matthew Stafford against the Falcons is just insane.

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He's moving to his left and throws sidearm, on a line, on the money, 30 yards down the field to a receiver moving in the opposite direction in between four defenders. The announcing crew didn't even mention it. If Patrick Mahomes did that, you would have already seen that throw a dozen times on replays.

Last Week: 10 📈

8) 49ers (4-3): The Niners are a confusing team. They lost two straight at home to the Eagles and Dolphins, losing to the Dolphins by four scores, and then they look as impressive as any team in the league the last two weeks, easily handling the Rams and Patri*ts.

Tough schedule ahead:

  1. At Seahawks (5-1)
  2. Packers (5-1)
  3. At Saints (4-2)
  4. At Rams (5-2)
  5. Bills (5-2)

Combined record: 24-8 (.750)

Last week: 8

7) Bears (5-2): 😬

That's especially interesting coming from Nick Foles, who would be on a short list of quarterbacks I would not expect to hear criticizing his head coach.

Last week 3 📉

6) Rams (5-2): The six most run-heavy teams in the NFL:

Team Run percentage 
 Ravens50.1% 
 Browns49.3% 
 Patri*ts49.2% 
 Rams49.0% 
 Vikings46.9% 
 Titans46.2% 


The Ravens and Patri*ts have running quarterbacks, so they make sense. The Browns and Titans make sense, because their running backs are worth using. The Vikings make sense, because Mike Zimmer. The outlier here is the Rams, who don't have a great running back, or a running quarterback. 

The Rams have had some good games this season in which they have been able to do what they want offensively, which is run/control the ball and shorten the game. They have three wins by 24 or fewer points.

It helps that they have played all four NFC East teams, which maybe skews that run:pass ratio to some degree, but they feel like a team that isn't well-equipped to play the style of ball they want to play, even if they have had some success with it.

Last week: 7 📈

5) Saints (4-2): Memo to the NFL: When the Saints are near the goal line, Drew Brees is going to do that BS QB sneak in which he jumps, reaches the ball over, and then pulls it back. So, uh, maybe put a couple a LBs in the A gap and task them with swatting the ball out of his hands?

Anyway, on Sunday, it kinda looks to me like Brees didn't reach far enough. 

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He wound up fumbling the ball thereafter and the Panthers would have returned it for a TD.

Last week: 4 📉

4) Buccaneers (5-2): Lol.

Last week: 6 📈

3) Cardinals (5-2): The Cardinals have two of the best wins so far this season, when they took out the not yet injury-devastated 49ers Week 1, and the previously unbeaten Seahawks on Sunday. They're now positioned well in the NFC West, as they currently own all tie-breakers.

Last week: 5 📈

2) Packers (5-1): Unsurprisingly, the Packers are back on track after an awful performance in Tampa. They'll have a chance to kick the Vikings while they're down this week, and then they'll head to Santa Clara to take on the 49ers, scene of their disastrous NFC Championship Game, when they looked like Prairie View A&M trying to stop a 1990's Nebraska run game.

Last week: 2

1) Seahawks (5-1): The Seahawks lost, and their defense is concerning, but I'm not going to move them out of the top spot after a super-entertaining game on Sunday night. Is there a team in the NFL that consistently makes more highlight reel plays than the Seahawks?

Last week: 1

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