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November 19, 2019

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 12 edition, Lions are dead

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111919MattPatricia Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports

Matt Patricia is bad.

Week 11 of the 2019 NFL regular season is in the books, and teams are continuing to drop from contention like flies. This week, we have our sixth obituary of the season. That would be the Detroit Lions.



Lions (3-6-1): Matt Patricia is supposed to be a defensive coach, right? Well, here is how his 2019 defense compares with the 2008 Lions that went 0-16.

 Stat2008 Lions 2019 Lions 
 Points allowed per game 32.3 (32)27.2 (27) 
 Yards allowed per game404.4 (32) 412.8 (30) 
 Yards per play 6.4 (32)6.1 (31) 
 First downs allowed 21.9 (32)23.5 (31) 
 Third down percentage 46% (29)46% (30) 
 Sacks30 (16) 20 (28) 
 Interceptions 4 (32)3 (32) 

It really doesn't look all that different. The 2019 Lions are allowing more yards per game, more first downs per game, the same third down percentage, and they are equally inept getting pressure on the quarterback and creating turnovers.

The Lions' offense is actually good, but their play has been completely wasted by Patricia's side of the ball, and it feels very likely that Patricia will be a goner either at the end of this season, or maybe even before it.

Chalk up another failure on the Bill Belichick coaching tree. In alphabetical order:

 CoachCareer record 
 Romeo Crennel (Browns, Chiefs)28-55 (.337) 
 Brian Flores (Dolphins)2-8 (.200) 
 Al Groh (Jets)9-7 (.563) 
 Eric Mangini (Jets, Browns)33-47 (.413) 
 Josh McDaniels (Broncos)11-17 (.393) 
 Bill O'Brien (Texans)48-42 (.533) 
 Matt Patricia (Lions)9-16-1 (.365
 Nick Saban (Dolphins)15-17 (.469) 
 Jim Schwartz (Lions)29-51 (.363) 
 TOTAL184-260-1 (.415) 

Oh, and has anyone noticed how much better the Patriots' defense is now that Patricia is gone?





10) Bears (4-6): The Bears are done, but since we already killed off the Lions in this edition, let's wait until next week to give Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky their proper sendoff.  

Last week: 10


9) Panthers (5-5): A look at Kyle Allen's first four games as a starter, and his last four:

Kyle Allen Comp/Att (%) Yards (YPA) TD-INT Rating 
 First 4 starts 80/122 (65.6%) 901 (7.4)7-0 106.6 
 Last 4 starts 95/162 (58.4%)1022 (6.3) 3-9 60.3 

Allen very quickly went from, "This guy is going to take Cam Newton's job," to, "Let's bench this guy for literally anybody."

Last week: 9


8) Rams (6-4): Yes, the Rams were able to outlast the Bears in a boring Sunday Night Football game, which got them to 6-4, keeping them somewhat alive in the wildcard hunt. But... here is their offense in 2018 vs. their offense in 2019:

 Rams offense2018 2019 
 Points per game32.9 (2) 24.3 (12) 
 Yards per game421.1 (2) 366.5 (13) 
 Yards per play6.4 (2)  5.7 (14)
 First downs per game 25.1 (1)20.3 (18) 
 Third down percentage45% (5) 36% (22) 
 Turnover differential+11 (4) -3 (23) 

Last week: 8


7) Eagles (5-5)The Eagles have at least one 10+ play scoring drive in every game they have played this year. It is impressive that Carson Wentz has been able to consistently engineer these drives when there is no threat at all of a WR doing damage down the field once DeSean Jackson got hurt. 

 OpponentPlays Yards T.O.P. Result 
 Washington12 75 7:10 TD 
 Washington19 74 8:55 FG 
 Falcons13 73 8:29 TD 
 Lions1080 4:32 TD 
 Packers11 60 5:39 TD 
 Jets12 77 7:08 FG 
 Vikings10 40 4:44 FG 
 Cowboys12 66 5:51 FG 
 Bills14 83 8:17 TD 
 Bears12 70 6:33 FG 
 Bears12 61 7:16 FG 
 Bears16 69 8:14 FG 
 Patriots16 95 9:33 TD 

Of course, playing that way is unsustainable over the long-term, and is incredibly boring to watch.

Last week: 6


6) Cowboys (6-4): My top five MVP candidates so far this season:

1) Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: 23 TDs, 2 INTs, 8.4 YPA, a QB rating of 114.9, and he has run for 256 yards and 3 TD, while making a boatload of clutch plays in the fourth quarter.

2) Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens: With apologies to Mark Ingram, I still have Wilson narrowly ahead of Jackson.

That said, Jackson has been perhaps the most fun player to watch this season. He's on pace for 30 TD passes and 1,261 rushing yards. A list of players who have thrown for 30 TDs and half (631) of the rushing yards Jackson is on pace for:

 YearPlayer Stats 
 2015Cam Newton, Panthers 35 TD passes, 636 rushing yards 
 1990Randall Cunningham, Eagles 30 TD passes, 942 rushing yards 

3) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
: McCaffrey is on pace for 2,522 yards from scrimmage, which would be the best single-season total in NFL history. The Panthers aren't good, but they've managed to win 5 games because of him.

4) Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: So the Cowboys are struggling to run the ball lately and have become a very good passing team, huh? I have to admit I didn't see that coming. Prescott is having a Drew-Brees like season in which he is on pace for 5,154 passing yards. Well, it's Brees-like, if Brees could also run. Part of Prescott's season is because he has legitimately been great, and hey, whaddya know, part of it is that he also has receivers who actually make plays.

On the one hand, the Cowboys are no doubt thrilled that Prescott is playing this well. On the other hand, whatever it was that Prescott was previously asking for from the Cowboys in a new deal has to be skyrocketing. The Cowboys probably should have gotten that done when the asking price was whatever it was.

5) Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: Thomas has caught 82.5 percent (!) of his targets this season, which is insane. Or maybe I'm just overly impressed by that stat having watched the Eagles' slop at receiver all season long. Anyway, here are the all-time single-season receptions leaders in NFL history:

 YearPlayer Receptions 
 2002Marvin Harrison, Colts 143 
 2015Antonio Brown, Steelers 136 
 2015Julio Jones, Falcons 136 
 2014Antonio Brown, Steelers 129 
 2018Michael Thomas, Saints 125 

Thomas is on pace for 150 receptions.

Honorable mentions: Deshaun Watson, Texans. Nelson Agholor, Eagles.

Last week: 7


5) Vikings (8-3): For the second straight week, the Vikings found themselves defending their own goal with a four-point lead, and for the second straight week they were helped by insane coaching by their opponent. 

Against the Cowboys Week 10, the Cowboys had been killing the Vikings' secondary with the pass all night, and Jason Garrett or Kellen Moore or whoever bailed them out by running the ball twice for -3 yards once they got in close, eventually turning the ball over on downs.

Against the Broncos Week 11, on 4th and 1 from the Vikings' 15 yard line, with no timeouts and 33 seconds left, quarterback Brandon Allen scrambled for 11 yards down to the Minnesota 4. Rather then run up and spike it, the Broncos tried to run a play! Lol. For some reason, the Vikings called timeout for them with 10 seconds left.

Anyway, with more competent opposing decision makers, the Vikings could very well be 6-5.

Last week: 5


4) Saints (8-2): The Saints have played six straight games against teams with losing records that have a combined record of 20-40-1, and it doesn't get much harder the rest of the way.

Last week: 4


3) 49ers (9-1): Through a four-game stretch in October, the Niners allowed a total of 23 points. Over the last three games, they have allowed at least 25 points in every game. So that begs the question, are we sure this Niners defense is awesome, or did we just get a false positive when they were dominating bad offenses?

We'll find out over the last six games this season, when the Niners face the following opponents:

 WeekOpponent Points per game (NFL rank) 
 12Packers 25.0 (9) 
 13Ravens 34.1 (1) 
 14Saints 23.8 (13) 
 15Falcons 22.0 (19) 
 16Rams 24.3 (12) 
 17Seahawks 27.5 (7) 

They'll face two former league MVPs in Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, the all-time passing yards leader in Drew Brees, and the No. 1 and No. 2 MVP contenders (in whatever order you have them) in Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson.

Every single quarterback on their schedule the rest of the way, with the exception of the 22-year-old Jackson, has played in a Super Bowl.

Last week: 3


2) Packers (8-2): The Packers are coming off of their bye, and will now be playing in San Francisco on Sunday Night Football in place of the Eagles-Seahawks game that got moved out to make room for it. Many Eagles fans figured that move was made because the Eagles and boring to watch, and well, maybe not good.

While I agree that the Eagles are boring as hell, and maybe not very good, I don't think that is it at all.

To begin, Packers-49ers is obviously the better game, just on records. You have a high-profile team in the 8-2 Packers playing a 9-1 team in 49ers in a big San Francisco market. That game means way more to the NFC playoffs, and the way it will eventually be seeded.

But also, now there's a lineup of games that is awesome this week:

  1. 1:00 p.m.: Seahawks at Eagles
  2. 4:25 p.m.: Cowboys at Patriots
  3. 8:20 p.m.: Packers at 49ers

If you just leave Seahawks-Eagles in the prime time spot, then Packers-49ers is played at the same time as Cowboys-Patriots, and there's no way in hell a money maker like Cowboys-Pats is getting moved to 1:00 p.m. 

And then your best remaining matchup among the 1:00 p.m. games is Panthers-Saints. Panthers-Saints, huh?

Also, the move out of prime time means I won't be getting home after 2:00 a.m. So, thanks NFL!

Last week: 2


1) Seahawks (8-2): There are some decent arguments to be made for the Seahawks not belonging in the top spot, just as there are good arguments for any other team in the NFC not to be in the top spot.

That said, there are no dominant teams in the NFC, or really anything close to it. Every single one of them have some pretty glaring flaws. I mean, it's not often you get to Week 12 and the No. 1 team in our NFC Hierarchy is a three-point underdog to our No. 7 team.

Last week: 1

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