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December 12, 2022

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 15 edition

The Eagles are the clear best team in the NFC.

Eagles NFL
121222NickSirianni Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports


Week 14 of the NFL season is in the books (at least for the NFC teams still in contention), and we saw the wildcard race tighten up a bit this weekend. There are no new obituaries this week, so let's just get right to the Hierarchy.





9) Falcons (5-8): The Panthers and Lions have a better argument to still be alive in the Hierarchy than the Falcons. 

The Panthers beat the Seahawks on the road on Sunday, drawing to within a game of the Buccaneers in the NFC South:

NFC South Record Division record GB 
Buccaneers 6-7 3-1 
Panthers 5-8 3-1 
Falcons 5-8 1-3 
Saints 4-9 1-3 

The Panthers beat the Bucs earlier this year, and they still have an upcoming matchup with them Week 17 in Tampa. After firing their head coach and cutting their starting quarterback, Carolina could realistically win the NFC South and get a home playoff game, which, just... 🤯.

Meanwhile, the Lions have won five of six, and are threatening the Seahawks, Giants, and Commanders in the NFC wildcard race:

NFC Wildcard Race Record GB 
Cowboys (5 seed) 10-3 
Commanders (6 seed) 7-5-1 
Giants (7 seed) 7-5-1 
Seahawks 7-6 0.5 
Lions 6-7 1.5 

The last time (I think?) I had to pull a zombie team out of the graveyard was 2012, when Washington started 3-6, and then they won their final seven games under RG3. We're not there with the Panthers or Lions yet, but they're on watch.

Last week: 9


8) Giants (7-5-1): The Giants never looked like they even had a chance of competing with the Eagles on Sunday, as they were just completely overwhelmed and overmatched. I don't think the Giants had a single matchup advantage in their favor in that game, either on offense or defense. Seriously, try to think of one. Anything?

Anyway, here's the Giants' schedule the rest of the season:

  1. Week 15: At Commanders
  2. Week 16: At Vikings
  3. Week 17: Colts
  4. Week 18: At Eagles

I'm envisioning a scenario on the horizon in which the Eagles rest their starters Week 18, thus benefiting the Giants for a change, as Joe Judge fumes.

Last week: 8


7) Seahawks (7-6): The Seahawks have now lost home games this season to a trio of teams with losing records in the Falcons, Raiders, and Panthers. Going back to 2017, the Seahawks have been better on the road than they have been at home:

Home: 27-19 (0.587)
Road: 29-19 (0.604)

They also lost the only playoff game they hosted in Seattle during that span. Maybe the dorks that wear 12 jerseys don't really have much of an effect on games? 🤔

Last week: 6


6) Commanders (7-5-1): The Commanders were huge beneficiaries of the action around the league on Sunday, as they sat back on their bye and watched as the Giants and Seahawks both lost. Ultimately, whether or not the Commanders (and/or Giants) make the playoffs will ride heavily on their Week 15 matchup on Sunday Night Football. Here's where the analytics nerds have their playoff hopes. 


Team Current playoffs odds If WAS wins... If NYG wins 
Commanders 72% 90% 33% 
Giants 44% 25% 85% 

And The New York Times:

Team Current playoffs odds If WAS wins... If NYG wins 
Commanders 73% 92% 43% 
Giants 60% 39% 90% 

So, you know, it's kind of a big game for those two teams.

We would include ESPN's model here, too, but it still has the Cowboys as the best team in the NFL, so who cares what that says.

Last week: 7


5) Buccaneers (6-7): The Bucs' rushing attack is pathetic:

Bucs rushing offense Stat NFL rank 
Rushing yards per game 72.9 32 
Rushing yards per attempt 3.3 32 
Rushing first downs per game 4.5 32 
Rushing TDs 32 
Rushes of 20+ yards 31 

The Eagles had 1,042 rushing yards in their four games against the Lions (216), Jaguars (210), Packers (363), and Giants (253). The Buccaneers have 948 rushing yards all season.

If Tom Brady wants to keep playing in 2023, I'm going to bet that he can't wait to get out of there.

Last week: 5


4) Vikings (10-3): Winning records, negative point differentials:

  1. Vikings (10-3): -1
  2. Commanders (7-5-1): -3
  3. Chargers (7-6): -31
  4. Giants (7-5-1): -33
  5. Titans (7-6): -35

Last week: 3


3) Cowboys (10-3): You make the call. QB sneak, or a handoff to, uh, Rex Burkhead?


If the Texans had just called a sneak like any normal team would, the Cowboys are probably 9-4 this morning instead of 10-3.

Also, Dak Prescott hasn't looked right at times this season. This is a bad decision:

And this is a bad pass, and/or decision, take your pick:

Last week: 2


2) 49ers (9-4): Brock Purdy was 16 of 21 for 185 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs (he did throw a pick that didn't count), for a QB rating of 134.0 against the Bucs. Some highlights:

Maybe he's better than Jimmy G? 

Last week: 4


1) Eagles (12-1): The most common critique of the Eagles this season has been their run defense, like it's the thermal exhaust port on the Death Star. Over the last two weeks, however, that flaw has been fixed, as Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkley combined for 20 carries for 58 yards (2.9 YPC) and 0 TDs against the Eagles' defense.

Philly's run D was absolutely a legitimate concern, but it will be hard to point to that as a flaw that can be exploited at this point. 

When a team is at the top, folks who cover the NFL will try to find holes to poke in them. I certainly don't begrudge that behavior. I do it too. It's fun! But I am curious to see what exactly those folks can come up with for this Eagles team. "Special teams?" Not sure that'll bring in the engagement.

Last week: 1

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