Week 11 of the NFL season is in the books, and we have one new obituary to write. Sadly, all four of the garbage teams in the NFC East remain alive, and probably will remain alive for a while.
The 2020 49ers are likely to become the seventh NFC team since realignment in 2002 to miss the playoffs the year after losing the Super Bowl. A quick look back at the recent history of NFC Super Bowl losers, and their follow-up seasons:
Super Bowl year
Super Bowl loser
The next year
4-6 (6 games to go)
The moral of the story? Don't blow a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
As with most reigning NFC champs, the Niners headed into 2020 with good odds of bucking that trend and contending for a Super Bowl once again. Yes, injuries helped derail their season (nobody cares, and nobody feels bad for them, at least among the Philly readership here), but they also entered 2020 with the worst starting quarterback in the NFC West.
Even with the injuries, you'd at least like to see some fight, but the Niners haven't shown much of that. In four of their six losses so far this season, their games have been out of reach for most of the second half. A look at ESPN's "win probability" charts in those four games:
Those four games don't even include a loss to the friggin Eagles.
Heading into 2021, the Niners will appeal to some because on paper they'll have a good defense, and folks will praise Kyle Shanahan's scheme, but those two things only go so far. If you don't have a quarterback, you're toast, and the Niners don't have a quarterback. To be determined if they see that reality as well, and make a drastic move to get one.
11) Cowboys (2-7): The best week of the season for NFC East teams this season has been the bye.
• Football Team bye, Week 8: The Eagles and Cowboys play one of the worst games of the 2020 season, and Football Team fans convince themselves that they have the best healthy quarterback in the division in Kyle Allen, lol. Meanwhile, the Giants lose on Monday Night Football to the Bucs.
• Eagles bye, Week 9: The Football Team, thought of at the time as the biggest threat to the Eagles for the NFC East title, loses to the Giants, while the Cowboys lose to the Steelers.
• Cowboys bye, Week 10: The division-leading Eagles fail miserably in NJ against the Giants, keeping the division within reach, and the Football Team loses to the Lions.
It's back to the reality of having to actually play football games for Dallas this week. Hope they enjoyed the bye.
Last week: 12 📈
10) Football Team (2-7): The Football Team scratched, clawed, and battled all the way back from a 24-3 deficit in Detroit to tie the game with 16 second to go. And then, in a matter of like 2 minutes in real time:
Quick Lions 10-yard pass and a timeout.
Dumb roughing the quarterback penalty on Chase Young, 15 yards.
9) Eagles (3-5-1): OK, so let's say the Eagles win one more game the rest of the season, and saaayyyy, the Giants find a way to overtake them in the NFC East (their division odds improved to +1000 with their win this past week, according to TheLines.com's consensus odds), they'd finish with a 4-11-1 record, and at least they'd have a really high draft pick, right?
Ehhhh, not so fast. Let's take a look at the 2021 Draft order, via Tankathon:
There are six teams that currently have a 2-7 record, or worse. For any of the 2-7 teams to catch a 4-11-1 Eagles team, they'd have to win three more games the rest of the way. Maybe the Chargers can pull that off, but that's the only real possibility, and it's unlikely. So right off the bat, you're looking at the seventh overall pick as something of a reasonable best case scenario.
But then you also need teams like the Bengals, Panthers, Falcons, and Broncos to at least win two more games, and in some cases there, even that doesn't feel super likely. There's a chance that a 4-11-1 season wouldn't even result in a top 10 pick.
There are a lot of very, very bad teams in the NFL this year. Because of that, and also because of the added difficulty in scouting players because of the COVID-affected college season, this is probably the worst year to be an awful team, which is what the Eagles are right now.
Last week: 8 📉
8) Giants (3-7): After the Giants beat the Eagles on Sunday, I received a handful of emails from Giants fans, who had apparently read the Giants dumpster fire pieces each year, and had just been laying in wait to take a victory lap.
When your Super Bowl is beating a trash Eagles team to get to 3-7 on the season, that's... not great? Also, you people realize that if the Giants win the division, there's a decent chance that Dave Gettleman will remain the GM, right?
Last week: 10 📈
7) Bears (5-5): In case you missed it late Monday night, Nick Foles got slammed to the ground on his back, and his back sort of bent awkwardly thereafter. He went off on the cart.
6) Rams (6-3): One of the Rams' biggest roster concerns is OL depth, and they've had good injury luck there, until now, as they'll be without LT Andrew Whitworth for 6-8 weeks. Joe Noteboom* will fill in.
Last week: 6
5) Buccaneers (7-3): My rankings of the least appealing teams to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, from a most loathsome to least loathsome perspective:
Buccaneers: Tom Brady is a crybaby, Antonio Brown is a terrible person, and the Bucs playing in the Super Bowl without actually building a roster via smart GM moves would feel very unearned.
Saints: It's just impossible to hope for good things for Sean Payton.
Seahawks: They're dirty, and somehow escape that reputation.
Rams: I do enjoy watching morons fawn over Sean McVay naming players on the other team.
Packers: Somehow, they're reasonably successful, and yet not very hate-worthy.
Cardinals: Maybe the most fun team to watch in the NFL?
Last week: 5
4) Seahawks (6-3): Russell Wilson's first five games: 3 turnovers. Russell Wilson's last 4 games: 10 turnovers.
If you own a "12" jersey, or if you have ever uttered the phrase "Let Russ cook," you are a nerd. The 12 jerseys will never go away because those fans are lame as hell, but hopefully "Let Russ cook" will die soon.
Last week: 1 📉
3) Cardinals (6-3): The Cardinals and Bills played the most entertaining game of the year. It will be remembered for Kyler Murray's Hail Mary to DeAndre Hopkins, but it was great, really, from start to finish.
If you've been solely watching Eagles games all year, it looks like these two teams were playing an entirely different sport.
Last week: 4 📈
2) Saints (7-2): Drew Brees has "multiple rib fractures on both sides of his chest and a collapsed lung on the right side," according to Ed Werder of ESPN. That sounds uncomfortable. This has to be Brees' last season, right? He has a Super Bowl. He's going to waltz into the Hall of Fame. He could broadcast or get into politics (🤢), or do really whatever he wants to do, post-career. Why put your body through this nonsense at 41 years of age?
Anyway, also from that story:
"The most optimistic timetable for a return is two to three weeks, but the people involved are prepared for it to be longer."
Alright, so looking at the Saints' next four opponents:
They'll be fine.
Last week: 3 📈
1) Packers (7-2): The Packers aren't anything special, but in a bad NFC in 2020, they are the only team that appears poised to run away with their division, since the sucky Bears are the closest team to them, at two games behind. Looking at the Packers' remaining schedule, only one opponent would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.
Last week: 2 📈
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*As PhillyVoice readers know, a Noteboom is a measurement of weight.