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November 30, 2021

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 13

Eagles NFL
113021TaylorHeinicke Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Football Team is the current valedictorian of summer school.

Week 12 of the NFL season is in the books, and if the season ended today, the Washington Football Team would be in the playoffs as the 7 seed. We already killed them off, soooooooo... oops? 🤷‍♂️

Their next four games are at Las Vegas, the Cowboys at home, at Philly, and then at Dallas, so hopefully I won't have to bring them back from the dead. Anyway, the fact the Football Team is suddenly a contender just goes to show (a) how bad the NFC is this year, and (b) how much the NFL watered down their playoff product by adding a seventh qualifier to each conference.

There are no new obituaries this week.





11) Falcons (5-6): After a pair of games they lost by a combined score of 68-3, the Falcons picked up a win over the Jaguars on Sunday, delaying their obituary for a week.

Last week: 11


10) Panthers (5-7): Christian McCaffrey's season is over. 

McCaffrey became the highest-paid running back in NFL history during the 2020 offseason. He has played in 10 games since.

In the last 10 drafts, five running backs have been picked in the top 10.

Year Player Team Overall pick 
2012 Trent Richardson Browns 3 
2015 Todd Gurley Rams 10 
2016 Ezekiel Elliott Cowboys 4 
2017 Christian McCaffrey Panthers 8 
2018 Saquon Barkley Giants 2 

• Richardson was a bust.

• Gurley was excellent for a short period, but is currently unemployed.

• Elliott was great early on, but he has arguably been less efficient the last two seasons than his backup, Tony Pollard.

• Barkley looks like a shell of the player he was as a rookie, as an assortment of injuries have derailed his career.

It's funny to me that Dave Gettleman is responsible for drafting McCaffrey and Barkley. It might be a while until we see another one go top 10.

Last week: 10


9) Saints (5-6): The Saints have lost four straight games, and they have faced some pretty big deficits heading into the fourth quarter of each game:

Opponent Score at start of 4th quarter 
Week 9 - Falcons 17-3 Falcons 
Week 10 - Titans 20-12 Titans 
Week 11 - Eagles 33-7 Eagles 
Week 12 - Bills 24-0 Bills 
TOTAL 94-22 

The Saints nearly beat the Falcons and Titans, but their fourth quarter scoring against the Eagles and Bills was more of the garbage time variety.

This offense is banged up, and Trevor Siemian obviously isn't a legitimate NFL starter, so struggles were to be expected, but their offense has been impotent when opposing defenses haven't yet taken their foot off the gas with sizable leads.

Oh, and surprise(!), Sean Payton is crying about officials again.


Last week: 9


8) Eagles (5-7): The Eagles didn't just lose to a trash Giants team. They lost to a trash Giants team that was also missing their two most productive wide receivers (Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney), their starting left guard (Shane Lemieux), their starting center (Nick Gates), a pair of starting safeties (Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers), and the leader of their defense (Blake Martinez).

They're still only a half-game out of the 7 seed, but had they taken care of business, they'd be in the 7 seed spot, with a half game lead over all the other "contenders." Now? They're 11th.

I'd move them back in the hierarchy here, but I kinda can't, since all the teams below them are in even worse shape.

Last week: 8


7) Vikings (5-6): Lol.

It's not just that he did that, it's that he did it on one of the most crucial plays of the game. It was 4th and Goal with an 8-point deficit.

Last week: 6


6) 49ers (6-5): Like the Eagles, the 49ers seemed to have found their identity of late, which is essentially, "Don't let our quarterback throw it a lot." The Niners are on a three-game winning streak during which they have run it 125 times vs. 67 pass attempts by Jimmy Garoppolo.

Last week: 7


5) Rams (7-4): The Rams have lost three straight games. How have they looked on offense during that stretch?

And on defense?

Last week: 5


4) Cowboys (7-4): Like Payton above, the Cowboys — including Jerry Jones — were bitching about penalties. Via Todd Archer of ESPN:

"Well, this probably will be arguably the most watched game other than the Super Bowl, and I hated that it got down to just throwing the ball up and getting your penalties to get your big plays," Jones said. "And I think we were into that. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm so proud of our team for the way we hung in, hung in and came back and played, but it's frustrating for everybody, for all of our fans at this particular time, to have a game that had you on pretty unsure footing as to where you were going to be with your fundamentals, i.e., whether those were going to be called or not. And they got calls, too, so it's just a little off balance way to play the game."

OK, so, let's take a look at the plays the Raiders got by "just throwing the ball up and getting your penalties to get your big plays." There were four pass interference calls that went against the Cowboys, all by Anthony Brown.

Pass interference No. 1: Brown clearly grabs Bryan Edwards at the top of his route on the hitch.


Pass interference No. 2: Brown eventually gets his head around and looks for the ball, but he is grabbing DeSean Jackson all the way down the field. This was the most debatable of the pass interference calls, but still a play that gets called pretty routinely.


Pass interference No. 3: Grabby grabberson.


Pass interference No. 4: And finally, Brown never gets his head around and runs through the receiver who is trying to make a play on the ball. This gets called every time.


Here's a thought. Maybe stop putting your clearly overmatched corner on an island all night.

Last week: 4


3) Packers (9-3): Previously, I would have put the NFC into two buckets in terms of Super Bowl contention:

  1. The top 5 teams, in whatever order you preferred: Cardinals, Rams, Packers, Buccaneers, and Cowboys.
  2. Everybody else.

I think it now looks something more like this:

  1. The top 3 teams, in whatever order you prefer: Cardinals, Buccaneers, and Packers.
  2. Definitely playoff-bound, but quite flawed: Cowboys and Rams.
  3. Everybody else.

I guess we should say something about the Packers here, right? Well, they've won 13 games in each of their last two seasons. They're probably going to win 13 again, with only one team left on their schedule with a winning record.

Last week: 3


2) Buccaneers (8-3): Speaking of easy schedules, the Bucs' remaining schedule consists of a pair of games against the McCaffrey-less Panthers, a pair of teams in the minus triple digits in point differential in the Falcons and Jets, and the busted up Saints. The only hard game they have left is at home against the Bills, a team that has been inconsistent.

There could be three teams this year in the NFC that win 13 games, mainly because they've been able to feast on the abnormal number of bottom feeders.

Last week: 2


1) Cardinals (9-2): Lol.

"Adam, tweet this."

- Kliff Kingsbury's agent

Last week: 1

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