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October 23, 2018

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 8 edition

Seven weeks into the 2018 NFL season, the NFC appears to have one outstanding team, one really good one, a lot of mediocrity in the middle, and three horrendous teams that are probably best served to lose as much as possible down the stretch.

We have no new obituaries this week, and probably won't for a while, as every team that is still alive has at least three wins.





13) Lions (3-3): Coming out of college, one of the legit concerns about Lions running back Kerryon Johnson was a bad yards per carry average. In three seasons at Auburn, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry, which is good for the NFL, but very low for an NFL prospect at the college level. Through six games in the pros, he has 69 carries for 444 yards, for a yards per carry average of 6.4. Normally, when a back has a yards per carry average that high, he has some kind of super-long run mixed in. However, Johnson has consistently picked up yards in chunks, as he has five straight games in which he has rushed for at least 5.4 yards per carry.

The Lions probably shouldn't be buried this low anymore. Really, they're probably interchangeable with any of the four teams ahead of them.

Last week: 13


12) Buccaneers (3-3): The Buccaneers are in very dangerous territory, in terms of a long-term outlook. They're nowhere remotely close to competing for a Super Bowl, and yet, they're winning enough games to keep them from maximizing their chances of drafting a high-impact player. Meanwhile, their franchise quarterback has been thoroughly out-played by the journeyman backup:

Bucs QBs Comp-Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT Rating 
 Ryan Fitzpatrick87-129 (67.4%) 1356 (10.5) 11-5 114.4 
 Jameis Winston78-113 (69%) 905 (8.0) 5-6 85.6 

Winston has an outstanding WR trio in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin. There's really no excuse for him not to be tearing it up. He is scheduled to make over $20 million on his fifth-year option next season. That'll be an interesting decision. I imagine the Bucs will ride that out with him.

Last week: 12


11) Cowboys (3-4): As we noted Monday evening, the trade of a first-round pick for Amari Cooper is a bad use of draft pick capital and financial resources for a team that is a lot further away from legitimate Super Bowl contention than a wide receiver who still has a lot to prove. Delusion fuels that front office.

Last week: 11


10) Seahawks (3-3): I'm going to exercise my right not to think about something to write for this now-average team, coming off their bye.

Last week: 10


9) Bears (3-3): The Bears have given up 69 points over the last two games, which is decidedly not nice. A few weeks ago, I wondered if the Bears have the best defense in the NFL. They don't. 

Last week: 7


8) Eagles (3-4): Remember when we all thought the Eagles' roster didn't have much in the way of holes? Certainly, injuries haven't helped, but as we approach the trade deadline, they badly need help at WR, DT, RB, and the secondary. Those positions are all glaring issues.

Last week: 5


7) Falcons (3-4): The Falcons took care of business against the Buccaneers and Giants the last two weeks, though they weren't exactly all that impressive in doing so. Still, they've climbed back from a 1-4 start, and will head into the bye week on a positive note.

When they return, their next three opponents are as follows:

  1. At Washington
  2. At Cleveland
  3. Dallas

If they can get back to 0.500 after that stretch, by they will have gotten a number of their key defenders back from injury and could be primed for a late-season run.

Last week: 9


6) Panthers (4-2): I don't think Cam Newton gets as much credit as he should for how good of a quarterback he is. He has almost nothing to work with in that offense, and yet, he still finds ways to win games. His passing numbers aren't spectacular, but he has kept his interceptions down (he only has 4), and he's the best runner on his team. He is their offense.

Last week: 8


5) WASTEAM (4-2): Washington has a 1.5-game advantage in the NFC East, and only has one team left on their schedule with a winning record (the Houston Texans). Still, only gives them a two percent advantage over the Eagles to win the division.

FiveThirtyEight Make playoffs Win NFCE 1st rd bye Win SB 
 WASTEAM53% 41% 11% 2% 
 Eagles45% 39% 5% 4% 
 Cowboys27% 19% 3% 1% 
 Giantslol lol lol LOLOLOL 

Last week: 6


4) Packers (3-2-1): Coming off their bye, the Packers have two straight road games against the Rams and Patriots. Yikes.

Aaron Rodgers is quietly having another great season, despite battling injuries and throwing to household names like Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown.

Last week: 3


3) Vikings (4-2-1): I'm thoroughly unimpressed by this team... BUT, credit them for beating the Eagles on the road, and then easily handling weaker opponents like the Cardinals and Jets, to put them on a three-game winning streak. This Sunday will be a rematch of their divisional round playoff opponent, the New Orleans Saints, when, you know, this happened:

Think the Saints will be up for that one?

Last week: 4


2) Saints (5-1): While I don't think the acquisition of Amari Cooper by the Cowboys is going to have some kind season-changing effect for them, I do think that if the Saints found a way to trade for Patrick Peterson, that is a move that would put them in much better position to defend the Rams' high-powered offense. To note, the Saints don't have their 2019 first-round pick.

Last week: 2


1) Rams (7-0): It's time to start wondering if the Rams can run the table. The games of note the rest of the way on their schedule: 

  1. Week 8: Packers
  2. Week 9: At Saints
  3. Week 11: Chiefs
  4. Week 15: Eagles

Last week: 1

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