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September 19, 2023

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 3 edition

Jimmy Kempski gives his ranking of NFC teams two weeks into the 2023 season.

Eagles NFL
091923MicahParsons Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Micah Parsons is good.

Week 2 of the NFL season is in the books, and the NFC is 6-0 so far in games against the AFC. Maybe they're not the weaker conference after all. There are still no obituaries yet, so let's get right to the Hierarchy.


16) Cardinals (0-2): Here are the outcomes of Jonathan Gannon's second half defensive series in his last two games at State Farm Stadium:


  1. TD
  2. TD
  3. TD
  4. FG (FG was on purpose, but could have very well been a TD)


  1. TD
  2. TD
  3. TD
  4. TD
  5. FG (FG was also sort of on purpose, but could very well been a TD)

Also, this appears to be a common sentiment:

To be clear, the heavy criticism that Gannon has gotten is because he has lied several times about weird things, like saying that Philly media told him during a press conference that they wanted him fired, or that he urged Nick Sirianni to give up play calling (never happened), to name two. His awkwardness around his players — as shown in videos released by the team — isn't great either, but it's not nearly as alarming as the signs of pathological lying.

But whatever. On the point that his players are "playing HARD," it's Week 2! Of course guys are playing hard! They make millions and would like to continue to make millions. What are they going to do? Sit down on the ground and pick grass?

Last week: 16


15) Bears (0-2): In our Week 2 picks, we pointed out the criticisms of the Bears' unorganized offensive scheme. And well, they didn't fix it in between Week 1 and Week 2: 

On the one hand, Justin Fields probably isn't good. On the other hand, I kinda can't fault anyone for continuing to make excuses for him.

Last week: 14


14) Panthers (0-2): If you missed the Saints-Panthers game on Monday night, I envy you.

Last week: 13


13) Giants (1-1): I don't think I've ever seen a team have a worse first six quarters of a season, losing 40-0 in the opener and then digging a 20-0 hole at the half against the worst team in the NFL. But credit where it's due — the Giants were facing an absolute disaster of a season if they had lost in Arizona, but they took advantage of Gannon's "cover literally nothing in the intermediate parts of the field" defense and saved their season in the second half.

Last week: 15


12) Vikings (0-2): Kirk Cousins, after two games:

Kirk Cousins Stat NFL Rank 
Completion percentage 72.7% 
Yards 708 
Yards per attempt 8.0 
TD throws T-1 
QB rating 114.2 

He also leads the league in losses, though that's probably not his fault. 

Cousins is on the last year of his contract, and there's a decent chance he won't be in Minnesota next year. Is there a "Cousins is better than Brad Johnson / Trent Dilfer / Eli Manning and we can maybe win a Super Bowl with our defense as long as we have a competent quarterback" argument to be made for the Jets to trade for him? Because the Vikings could probably get something decent for him, and then go into tank mode.

Last week: 12


11) Commanders (2-0): Each year, Mike Sando releases his "quarterback tiers," as voted on by "50 league insiders who placed 30 veteran quarterbacks into tiers included eight general managers, 10 head coaches, 15 coordinators, 10 executives, four quarterbacks coaches and three involved in coaching/analytics."

Sam Howell checked in at No. 28 out of those 30 quarterbacks. I had him 31st out of 32.

I'm not sure how far I'd move him up after two games, but he has shown something.

Last week: 11


10) Buccaneers (2-0): Baker Mayfield put up some pretty crazy numbers when under pressure on Sunday.

He also got out of some sacks and made plays with his legs, like this:

Mayfield is completing 69.1 percent of his passes, he has 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs, and he has only taken 1 sack. That kind of play, for him anyway, is probably unsustainable, but for now his 2023 season is off to a great start.

Last week: 10


9) Seahawks (1-1): The Seahawks' offensive line allowed one QB hit on Sunday, a sack by Alex Anzalone. It took Anzalone 12 seconds to finally corral Geno Smith.

Otherwise, Geno basically wasn't touched in the pocket. And that was with both starting Seahawk offensive tackles out. Even if Smith was getting the ball out quickly, that was a bigtime performance by their depth players. 

Last week: 9


8) Rams (1-1): The following field goal was a hilarious "bad beat" on Sunday. I mean, not hilarious if you had the Niners -8, but hilarious for everyone else.

Rookie fifth-round WR Puka Nacua has 25 receptions through two weeks. He's #OnPaceFor 212.5 catches this season.

Last week: 8


7) Saints (2-0): The Saints have a good veteran defense, as usual. But for a guy who gets to throw to Chris Olave, a seemingly rejuvenated Michael Thomas, and the electric Rashid Shaheed, Derek Carr hasn't been very impressive so far. They're not going to beat good teams scoring under 20 points per game.

Last week: 7


6) Packers (1-1): Jordan Love leads all NFL quarterbacks in EPA per play, which is especially impressive given that he played on Sunday with a blood alcohol level of 0.28.

Last week: 5


5) Lions (1-1): Lions players and fans wore ski masks on Sunday, because they want to be thought of as "villains."

The Lions then proceeded to give up 37 points in a home loss to the Seahawks, who mocked the ski masks in a postgame celebration.

It's hard to be taken seriously as a "villain" when you haven't won a playoff game in 31 years. Reminds me of Butters / Professor Chaos:


Also, this is bad news for the Lions' defense:

Last week: 4


4) Falcons (2-0): Here's every Desmond Ridder dropback the first two games of the season:

Did you watch all of that? No? I did. Ridder can make plays with his legs and there are certainly some throws that one could point to as encouraging if they're really rooting for the kid to succeed. However, there are a whole lot of inaccurate throws, and some really bad decisions. He kinda reminds me of the guy he replaced, Marcus Mariota.

If Jaire Alexander or Quay Walker were able to hold onto easy interceptions against the Falcons Week 2, it's probably a different outcome.

But, they didn't, so I guess the 2-0 Falcons are at the top of the "Tier 2" teams in the NFC, for now, with a huge gap between them and the top three teams.

Last week: 6


3) Eagles (2-0): The Eagles have had their struggles through the air, on both sides of the ball. 

BUT... they have the No. 2 rushing offense and the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL, and are outgaining opponents 356-104 on the ground.

Last week: 3


2) 49ers (2-0): The 49ers looked like a juggernaut Week 1, but the Rams outplayed them Week 2 for the first three quarters before a gift INT that glanced off the hands of Kyren Williams.

With the Giants and Cardinals at home the next two weeks, the 49ers should cruise to 4-0 before they face the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football Week 5.

Last week: 2


1) Cowboys (2-0): Micah Parsons:

More Micah Parsons: 

And more Micah Parsons: 

I mean, even that little crawl that Parsons does after the above sack is impressive.

Honestly I could've shown like five more Micah Parsons plays from that game, but you get the point.

Last week: 1

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