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May 16, 2019

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Offseason doldrums edition

Eagles NFL
051719Graveyard Jimmy Kempski/PhillyVoice

It's time to wake the dead for the 2019 season.

Last week, we posted a roundup of NFL power rankings, useless as they may be. The Philadelphia Eagles were at least in the top 10 in every single one of the power rankings we found, with an average position of 7.75. Here we'll do our own version of those useless power rankings, but we'll limit it to the NFC.

But first, let's take one last look back at the 2018 NFC Hierarchy/Obituary graveyard. We killed off each of the NFC's teams in order from the bottom row, left to right, then the middle row, left to right, then the top row, left to right.


Let's go ahead and bring everyone back from the dead.


There. Clean slate. Let's get to the hierarchy.


16) Cardinals: The Cardinals' point differential was 107 points worse than the next closest team in the NFC a year ago:

Team Point differential Team Point differential 
 Saints+151 Falcons-9 
 Rams+143 Packers-24 
 Bears+138  Lions-36 
 Seahawks+81  Giants-43 
 Eagles+19  Buccaneers-68 
 Vikings+19  Washington-78 
 Cowboys+15  49ers-93 
 Panthers-6  Cardinals-200 

I believe Kyler Murray will give them some juice, and he'll make enough plays to make the Cardinals interesting, but they have a long way to go.


15) Giants: The Giants have (rightfully) taken so much heat for the trade of Odell Beckham, the drafting of Daniel Jones, and the insanity of trying to keep Eli Manning happy that it has gone unnoticed how bad their defense is.

In the last 14 months, the Giants have gotten rid of arguably their four best defensive players -- Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Snacks Harrison, and Landon Collins. A week ago, we posted our Preseason All NFC East teams. No Giants defenders made the first team, or even came close. Two Giants players snuck onto the second team at weak positions in the division. And it's not even as if there were some debatable players who should have been in there instead.

By the time the Giants' personnel transformation from a 4-3 to a 3-4 is 80 percent complete, everyone will be fired because the team goes 4-12 every year. The new staff will come in with different ideas of what kinds of players fit whatever it is they want to run. It's gonna be an ugly decade of Giants football.


14) Buccaneers: I was pretty confident this time last year that after the Buccaneers had another awful season, they'd finally cut their losses on Jameis Winston and GM Jason Licht. Nope.

Winston has been a disastrous No. 1 overall pick, and Licht is somehow entering into his sixth year as GM after compiling a 27-53 record, while finishing dead last in the NFC South in four of his five years.

And how did Licht repay the Bucs by allowing him to remain employed? He drafted another kicker!


13) Washington: Their roster really isn't that bad. They have a good front seven, and a very good offensive line (when healthy). You can build around that. If Dwayne Haskins pans out, they may have something.

It just very likely won't be happening in 2019.

MORE: Adam Schefter thinks the Eagles will extend Wentz before season begins


12) 49ers: Earlier this week, Peter King had the Niners seventh in his power rankings, with the following reasoning.

Here’s my big surprise. Only I don’t see it that way. In 2017 and 2018, the Niners were 6-2 when Jimmy Garoppolo started and 4-18 when he didn’t. In his fateful last start, when he ran left and tore his ACL at Kansas City, these were the last four drives he executed that afternoon, going head to head with Patrick Mahomes at rabid Arrowhead: 54 yards to a field goal, 87 yards to a touchdown, 77 yards to a touchdown, 58 yards to a field goal. In his 10 NFL starts, he’s a 66-percent passer. I have no problem making two statements: I think the 49ers are a playoff team if Garappolo plays a full season. And I think Garoppolo will be seen as a top 10 NFL quarterback if he plays a full season this year. Still, the fact that he hasn’t done it leaves the question in everyone’s mind: The kid’s started only 10 games in five NFL seasons, he’s been rewarded ridiculously for what the Niners expect him to do … and now, can he do it? The future of so many people in San Francisco—including joined-at-the-hip coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch—are riding on Garoppolo’s right arm. And his health. I’m fine gambling on him.

Lol, what? The Niners were the over-hyped team last offseason because of the impressive way Garoppolo led them to a five-game winning streak to close the 2017 season. Why are we doing this again in 2019 when they went 4-12 last year, and Garoppolo is still rehabbing an ACL tear?


11) Lions: The Lions' offseason strategy was basically, "Hi, free agent, we realize you have zero interest in playing for our head coach, so here's $3 million per year more than what anyone else is offering. Cool? Great, sign this, please."


10) Panthers: I have long been a Cam Newton supporter/defender/stan/whatever, but he's now 30 and the injuries have piled up, including a surgery to repair his throwing shoulder. (Cringe emoji.)

Newton was at his best when he was a run-pass threat who used his massive size to shake off pass rushers and run over defenders. He's not going to be able to play that way anymore. His 2018 season may have been the beginning of the end.


9) Packers: Out of respect for Aaron Rodgers, we'll place Green Bay in the middle of the pack. Otherwise, this is a bottom five team. Rodgers threw for 25 TDs and 2 INTs (!) last season, and they still went 6-9-1.

Yes, yes, I know. Mike McCarthy was the worst, and now that he's gone, Green Bay will be good again. While I don't doubt that they may benefit from the "new coach bump" early in the season, the reality is that it's just not a good roster.

MORE: Eagles' Joe Douglas linked to Jets after firing of GM


8) Vikings: Quarterback / wide receiver coach Kirk Cousins had good numbers, as he always does, but as usual, in games that mattered, he folded faster than Superman on laundry day (h/t Bart Simpson). Minnesota is saddled with his awful contract for two more seasons.


7) Falcons: Like the 2018 Eagles, the Falcons had some pretty terrible injury luck. Unlike the Eagles, the Falcons were unable to overcome that adversity. Last year I had Atlanta representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. Oops. I won't be overrating them in 2019.


6) Seahawks: Just when you thought the Seahawks were ready to roll over and die, they had themselves a pretty good season in 2018. Russell Wilson remains a top five quarterback, and the Seahawks have just enough good players on both sides of the ball to contend in the NFC West again in 2019.


5) Cowboys: Dallas had excellent injury luck last season. They overachieved, won the NFC East (and obviously made the playoffs as a result), won a playoff game, and then went meekly into the offseason as they saw their defense get dominated up front by the Rams in the divisional round.

The Cowboys have some very good players. On offense, there's Zeke and Amari, and yeah, even Dak is a top half of the league quarterback, to go along with a very good offensive line. On defense, there's DeMarcus Lawrence and two really good linebackers who buzz all over the field.

I even kinda like their depth a little, though they're screwed if they have to play a backup quarterback.

MORE: Philly sports' 10 most crushing late-game defeats of the last 30 years | Most thrilling wins


4) Bears: Last season, the Eagles had to weather the losses Frank Reich and John DeFilippo, who were both a major part of the weekly game planning, as well as the Eagles' overall success. While the Eagles are still a well-coached team, it's fair (and obvious, in my opinion) to say that Reich, in particular, was missed.

The Bears face a similar challenge this season, as they're coming off a 2018 season in which they clearly had the best defense in the NFL. Can they maintain that high level of play with Vic Fangio moving on the Denver?


3) Eagles: Offensively, the Eagles have a lot going for them:

  1. Assuming Brandon Brooks returns to form at some point during the season, their offensive line is stacked.
  2. The wide receivers are very good, with a diversified mix of skill sets.
  3. The running backs should be far better than they were in 2018, when they were arguably the worst in the NFL.
  4. They have the best 1-2 tight end combination in the NFL.

It's all set up for Carson Wentz to succeed, and if he can stay healthy, the Eagles should be able to do great things. Obviously, that "if" should be read in 72 pt. font.


2) Rams: The "Super Bowl curse" used to be a thing, but it kind of isn't anymore. Here's a look at the follow-up seasons for each of the Super Bowl losers since the NFL went to 32 teams:

 YearSuper Bowl loser The next year Playoffs? 
 2002Raiders 4-12 No 
 2003Panthers 7-9 No 
 2004Eagles 6-10 No 
 2005Seahawks 9-7 Yes 
 2006Bears 7-9 No 
 2007Patriots 11-5 No 
 2008Cardinals 10-6 Yes 
 2009Colts 10-6 Yes 
 2010Steelers 12-4 Yes 
 2011Patriots 12-4 Yes 
 201249ers 12-4 Yes 
 2013Broncos 12-4 Yes 
 2014Seahawks 10-6 Yes 
 2015Panthers 6-10 No 
 2016Falcons 10-6 Yes 
 2017Patriots 11-5 Yes 

As you can see, nine of the last 10 Super Bowl losers made the playoffs the next season. There's little reason to believe the Rams won't be good again in 2019.


1) Saints: Last postseason, the Saints' turn from super cocky to pathetic crybabies was delicious. Still, this is the best offense in the NFL, and I have little doubt by now about Drew Brees' ability to stay on the field. They'll be a major contender once again.

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