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December 04, 2018

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 14 edition

Eagles NFL
120418mIKEmCcARTHY Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers often had to wake up Mike McCarthy from daydreaming about fire engines and rocket ships during games, according to multiple sources.

Week 13 of the NFL schedule is in the books, and we have one new obituary, though we could have easily killed off two teams. With four games to play, half of the NFC is essentially cooked.

Obituary

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The Green Bay Packers had a lot of problems in 2018, and Mike McCarthy ultimately — and deservedly — paid the price, though they probably could have let him finish out the season. While McCarthy's offense had indeed become stale, that wasn't the biggest problem. Aaron Rodgers aside, this roster stinks. 

The perception going forward, right or wrong, is that Rodgers had a hand in getting McCarthy fired. In 2019 and beyond, there's going to pressure for Rodgers to win a lot of games with whoever the Packers hire to be their new head coach. That will be difficult, again, because their roster stinks.

The Packers' head coaching opening is going to be viewed as a great landing spot for a new head coach because they'll have the opportunity to work with Rodgers, who many believe is the best football player on the planet. I'm not so sure that's such a great job. Expectations will be high from Day 1, and they'll be hard to match, because one last time, say it with me, this roster stinks.

Graveyard

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Hierarchy

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9) WASTEAM (6-6): Welp. Their quarterback is now Mark Sanchez for the rest of the season, a guy who they signed off the street two weeks ago. And yet, they're maybe kinda-sorta possibly alive, since they still don't have a team left on their schedule with a winning record? 

OK, nah, they're done, but I feel like it'll be more fun to kill them off next week, instead of sharing an obituary with the Packers.

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8) Panthers (6-6): The Panthers have lost four straight games, and now Cam Newton, one of their only good players, clearly has shoulder issues and is no longer playing well. One of their other rare good players, Greg Olsen, is done for the season with a ruptured plantar fascia. 

Back when they were 6-2, Carolina looked like a lock for a wildcard. Now? Not so much, and they've already entered into "blame game" mode, firing defensive line coach Brady Hoke and cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura. It was all Imamura! That'll turn things around.

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7) Eagles (6-6): The Eagles are playing their best football of the season at the moment, which isn't exactly a high bar. If there's one thing that Eagles fans can hang their hat on, it's that the offensive line is really starting to come together. If they can play anywhere close down the stretch to the way they played last season, they have a chance. I believe that unit offers the most hope.

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6) Vikings (6-5-1): Mike Zimmer ramped up his criticism of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after the Vikings' loss to the Patriots, passive aggressively pinning the Vikings' offensive struggles on DeFilippo for not running the ball to Zimmer's liking.

“What do you think you need to do to get the offense back to rolling a little bit better?” Zimmer was asked by reporters.

“Same thing I have been saying all year,” Zimmer said.

“Do you think you ran the ball enough?”

“No.”

Zimmer reminds me a little of Chip Kelly. With the Eagles, Chip put his defense at a major disadvantage by constantly running his up-tempo offense. Similarly, Zimmer wants the offense to cater to the defense, which, of course, is the unit that Zimmer runs.

When DeFilippo was hired in Minnesota, that job looked great at the time, with Zimmer concentrating on his defense, and Flip being able to run his own offense. Unfortunately, an OC job under Zimmer appears to be closer to a Billy Davis type of  "control your own unit" job than say, the freedom Kyle Shanahan was given under Dan Quinn in Atlanta.

Anyway, if/when the Vikings hire a new offensive coordinator (possibly this offseason), that's not going to be thought of as some kind of awesome OC job anymore.

Also, on what planet does it make sense to pound the run when you have Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, a good pass-catching back in Dalvin Cook, and a $28 million/year quarterback, especially when you're 28th in the NFL in yards per carry?

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5) Seahawks (7-5): Russell Wilson's last four games:

 Russell WilsonComp-Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT Rating 
 Rams17-26 (65.4%)176 (6.8) 3-0 123.2 
 Packers21-31 (67.7%) 225 (7.3) 2-0 110.3 
 Panthers22-31 (70%) 339 (10.9) 2-0 128.3 
 49ers11-17 (64.7%) 185 (10.9) 4-0 140.9 
 TOTAL 71-105 (67.6%)925 (8.8) 11-0 130.1 


He's good. #Analysis.

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4) Cowboys (7-5): The Cowboys are in a great position to win the NFC East after beating the Saints on Thursday night, as they have the eighth easiest remaining schedule in the NFL: 

Here's my five point plan on how they should finish the regular season:

Calm down. Take it one game at a time.

Hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott.

Open up the offense a bit with Amari Cooper.

Keep the pressure on defensively.

Everything should work out just fine!

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3) Bears (8-4): Yes, they were playing with Chase Daniel, and yes, they had a five-game winning streak, so a loss to the Giants maybe doesn't seem so bad? Nonsense. That's a game the Bears had to have with the L.A. Rams visiting Chicago this week. Oh, and Mitchell Trubisky may not even be back in time for that one either.

Chase Daniel. Matt Barkley. Sam Bradford. Mark Sanchez. So many former Eagles greats getting starts this season at QB.

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2) Saints (10-2): Relax. This team is still awesome. That was just one off night, that unfortunately for the Eagles, happened at the exact wrong time. Drew Brees has killed the Eagles twice this season.

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1) Rams (11-1): The Rams' remaining schedule, with ESPN's FPI matchup predictor:

  1. At Bears (56.4% chance of winning)
  2. Eagles (79.9%)
  3. At Cardinals (88%)
  4. 49ers (90.5%)

Those are the four teams the Rams will have to hold off to earn home field advantage over the Saints, and that 56.4% chance of beating the Bears is way too low.


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