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October 10, 2023

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 6 edition

The Giants are failing, the 49ers are crushing the competition and more NFC talk in Jimmy Kempski's conference hierarchy.

Eagles NFL
101023MikeMcCarthyDakPrescott Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Dallas' offense under Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott this season... not great.

Week 6 of the NFL season is in the books, and we could kill off a couple more teams this week, but let's hold off for now. Two teams remain undefeated, and one remains winless.


None this week.





14) Giants (1-4): The Giants haven't just been bad. They have been bad very publicly. Here were their three primetime games this season:

• Cowboys: L, 40-0
• At 49ers: L, 30-12
• Seahawks: L, 24-3

In those three games, the Giants' offense has more sacks allowed (20) than they have points (15).

We could easily kill off the Giants right now. They're probably the worst team in the NFL so far this season. But let's just wait for one more nationally televised ass-whooping on Sunday Night Football Week 6 in Buffalo before we officially eulogize them.

Last week: 13


13) Cardinals (1-4): Guess which of these Joe Burrow performances came against Jonathan Gannon. I'll mix them up (list them out of order) to make it a little tougher on you.

Att-Comp (Comp %) Yards TD-INT Rating 
 27-41 (65.9%) 222 (5.4) 2-1 85.6 
14-31 (45.2%) 82 (2.6) 0-0 52.2 
 20-30 (66.7%) 165 (5.5) 0-0 80.6 
36-46 (78.3%) 317 (6.9) 3-1 108.1 
 26-49 (53.1%)259 (5.3) 0-1 59.8 

Answer: It was the fourth one.

Last week: 14


12) Vikings (1-4): Uh oh.

Losing Justin Jefferson for four weeks is bad. #Analysis.

Last week: 12


11) Commanders (2-3): Rookie CB Emmanuel Forbes has gotten bullied in each of the last two weeks by A.J. Brown and D.J. Moore. Per PFF, in the Commanders' matchups against the Eagles and Bears, Forbes allowed 12 receptions on 16 targets for 273 yards and 2 TDs before the Commanders finally saw enough and benched him.

The Commanders' 2023 draft class:

• Round 1 (16th overall), CB Emmanuel Forbes: As noted above. 
• Round 2 (47th overall), CB Jartavius Martin: Has played zero snaps in the regular defense through 5 games.
• Round 3 (97th overall), C Ricky Stromberg: 4 snaps played in the regular offense.
• Round 4 (118th overall), iOL Braeden Daniels: On IR, 0 snaps played.
• Round 5 (137th overall), DE K.J. Henry: 0 snaps payed in the regular defense.
• Round 6 (193rd overall), RB Chris Rodriguez: 6 snaps played in the regular offense. 3 carries, 7 yards.
• Round 7 (233rd overall), DE Andre Jones: 4 snaps played in the regular defense.

If you omit Forbes and add up all the snaps the Commanders' rookies have played in the regular offense or defense, you get 14. And it's not as if this roster is stacked with great vets.

Last week: 11


10) Packers (2-3): My "young, first-year NFC starting quarterbacks we're still just kind of learning about" power rankings:

  1. Brock Purdy, 49ers
  2. Sam Howell, Commanders
  3. Jordan Love, Packers
  4. Bryce Young, Panthers
  5. Desmond Ridder, Falcons

Obviously, there is a huge gap between Purdy and the rest.

I liked the way Love played early this season, but he has been downright bad the last three weeks.

Last week: 8


9) Rams (2-3): The Rams were an interesting study this past week. They have a handful of good players, but their trenches are kind of a mess. The Eagles made sure they had multiple bodies on Aaron Donald anytime they dropped back to pass, and none of their other D-linemen could take advantage of their one-on-ones. And then on the other side of the ball, the O-line is an obvious work in progress as well. 

They have a good quarterback and some skill guys who can make plays which makes them a fun team to watch, but they're not going anywhere because they're bad in the trenches.

Last week: 7


8) Falcons (3-2): You know how everyone predicted that the Vikings and Giants would have severe regression in 2023 after they each had 2022 seasons in which their play on the field didn't match their lofty records? Well, that's going to be the Falcons in 2024. They've won three games despite a -13 point differential, and their remaining opponents have a combined point differential of -126.

They're probably going to be able to win enough games to squeeze into the playoffs, where the 2 or 3 seed will make quick work of them. Then they'll talk themselves into Desmond Ridder for another season and go 6-11.

Last week: 7


7) Saints (3-2): The Saints beat the Patri*ts 34-0 on Sunday after the Cowboys beat them 38-3 in Week 5. It feels a whole lot like Bill Belichick's time in New England is coming to an end, and I for one will enjoy watching that. Yes, this was not really about the Saints. I don't care. 

Last week: 10


6) Buccaneers (3-1): The Bucs had their bye week and since I don't have anything interesting to say about them, let's use this space to take a temperature check on the NFC playoff race now that we're a quarter of the way through the season. (I'm not worrying about tie-breakers this early in the season.)

NFC Record Point differential 
49ers (NFCW)5-0 +99 
Eagles (NFCE)5-0 +37 
Lions (NFCN)4-1 +41 
Buccaneers (NFCS) 3-1 +16 
Seahawks 3-1 +20 
Cowboys 3-2 +51 
Saints 3-2 +20 
Falcons 3-2 -13 
Rams 2-3 +4 
Packers 2-3 
Commanders 2-3 -51 
Vikings 1-4 -12 
Cardinals 1-4 -28 
Bears 1-4 -42 
Giants 1-4 -91 
Panthers 0-5 -53 

Some random notes:

• The Giants have the worst point differential in the NFL.

• The Bears own the Panthers' first-round pick. If that becomes the No. 1 overall pick, they're trading Justin Fields, right?

• The Commanders started this season 2-0. Anyone remember that? They now have the fifth-worst point differential in the NFL.

• The Cowboys are feast of famine. They have three blowout wins in which they looked like world-beaters, and two games in which they looked horrendous.

Last week: 6


5) Cowboys (3-2): Dak Prescott threw 3 INTs in the span of 5 passes Sunday night. Should we show all three? Yeah, why not? INT No. 1:

INT No. 2:

And INT No. 3: 

On a side note, the Cowboys were widely praised (self included) for their trade for Brandin Cooks this offseason. He's done nothing. 9 catches of 19 targets for 73 yards (3.8 yards per target) and 0 TDs. 

Last week: 3


4) Seahawks (3-1): The Seahawks had their bye week, which was probably inopportune timing, with three straight wins by a combined score of 98-61. I'm sure they would have liked to have kept right on rolling while they're hot (and healthy). 

Last week: 5


3) Lions (4-1): The Lions are fun.

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is a lock to become a head coach next season. (Not because of that direct snap play, to be clear — he has just done a phenomenal job with Jared Goff and that offense.)

Last week: 4


2) Eagles (5-0): For a team that went to the Super Bowl last season and is out to a 5-0 record, the Eagles almost feel a little under the radar.

• The 49ers are wrecking everyone in their path.
• The Cowboys had a few blowout wins, and their matchup against the 49ers on Sunday night was being billed as a potential NFC Championship Game preview. Plus, you know, they're always going to be overhyped no matter what.
• The Chiefs have all the Taylor Swift nonsense.
• The Dolphins are a fun team with extreme speed.
• Even locally, some attention is off of the Eagles because the highly likable Phillies are in the playoffs.

And yet, even with some legitimate nitpicks, they are chugging right along, piling up wins.

Last week: 2


1) 49ers (5-0): Prior to Week 5, the 49ers had played one of the weakest schedules in the NFL. They smashed three of their opponents and pulled away late from the fourth. In Week 5, they played their first legitimate contender, and they basically looked like a cat playing with a wounded mouse. This is pretty clearly the best team in the NFL right now.

If there's one thing the monitor it's the usage of Christian McCaffrey. He actually had his lowest number of touches in any game this season on Sunday night, and he still got the ball 21 times. He is on pace for 405 touches, and as we have seen over his career, McCaffrey is prone to injury.

Last week: 1

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