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December 10, 2019

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 15 edition

Week 14 of the 2019 NFL regular season is in the books, and after a Dallas Cowboys loss and a Philadelphia Eagles comeback win, the Birds have new life, again, in the NFC East. Let's just get right to it:


None this week.





9) Bears (7-6): At the halfway point of their season, the Bears were 3-5, and Mitchell Trubisky was nearly unanimously being called a bust. Over the last five games, however, he's been much better, throwing for 11 TDs vs. 5 INTs, while also showing what he can do with his feet, particularly against the Cowboys last Thursday night.

For example:




The Bears' playoff hopes are dwindling because of how bad Trubisky was earlier in the season, but he has probably bought himself another year as the team's starting quarterback.

Last week: 8


8) Eagles (6-7): Doug Pederson called Carson Wentz's game against the Giants the best of his career because of the way "he put the team on his back." 

It's nice to enjoy the win for a week and feel good about the quarterback for a bit, however, the Eagles needed "the best game of Wentz's career" to beat a now 2-11 team in tank mode.

By the way, in the event the Eagles do somehow win the division and get into the playoffs, they'll be the 4 seed. Here's the history of the 4 seed in the NFL playoffs since the current playoff system went into place in 2002. It's actually not as bad as I thought it would be:

• Wildcard round: 20-14

• Divisional round: 6-14

• Conference Championships: 3-3

• Super Bowl: 2-1

Last week: 9


7) Cowboys (6-7): Yes, Jason Garrett is a bad head coach, and yes, they'd be better with a good head coach, but can we please stop with this notion that the Cowboys are some sort of super-talented team?

The defense has major issues, most notably the lack of a pass rush, and horrid tackling, just generally speaking. Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, while they do have some nice pieces to build around, the offensive line remains the most comically overrated thing in sports.

Last week: 7


6) Rams (8-5): The Rams have racked up 1004 yards over their last 2 games, and are beginning to look dangerous, albeit way too late. Still, that's good for the Eagles, seeing as the Rams face the Cowboys Week 15.

If the Rams played in the NFC East, they'd have the division all but wrapped up. As is, they're unlikely to make the playoffs... at all.

Last week: 6


5) Vikings (9-4): The combined point differential of the teams the Vikings have beaten is -446.

Last week: 5


4) Seahawks (10-3): I'm beginning to think that Seattle maaayyybe just isn't that great. They remind me of that team in the NCAA Tourney every year that has that one stud player, and a good record, but the rest of their roster isn't very good so they get knocked out by, ohhhh, say, Murray State?

Last week: 2


3) Saints (10-3): In the Saints' loss to the Niners, Sean Payton called a fake punt on 4th and 18 in which the punter threw to the gunner. The gunner seemingly drew pass interference on the jammer, except that there's no such thing as pass interference on the widest player on the field when the offense lines up in punt formation. Here's the play: 

Payton screamed at the officials, because he likely didn't know the rule. So I guess we'll have a bunch of new rule changes next year again.

Last week: 1


2) Packers (10-3): If the season ended today, the Packers would have a first-round bye, with only the 11th-best point differential in the NFL, at +39.

Last week: 4


1) 49ers (11-2): Earlier this season, the Niners' defense looked like a juggernaut, while there were valid concerns over whether or not Jimmy Garoppolo would be able to win games in the playoffs. In their first 7 games, the highest point total the Niners allowed was 20 points, and they allowed an average of 11 points per game.

That script has sort of flipped more recently.

In his last 7 games, Garoppolo is 159 of 226 (70.4%) for 1931 yards (8.5 YPA), 18 TDs, and 5 INTs, for a passer rating of 113.6. Meanwhile, the Niners' defense has allowed at least 20 points in 5 of their last 6 games, and are allowing an average of 25.3 points per game during that span.

If they can put it all together in the playoffs, they'll be very dangerous. If not, they're vulnerable.

Last week: 3

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