December 18, 2018
With only two weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, we are about to write our ninth obituary. This week our focus will be on the fraudulent Carolina Panthers, who started the season 6-2, but have lost six straight games, and are in a complete free fall.
The Panthers are such an oddball team from year-to-year. In each of the last seven years, they have alternated winning and losing seasons:
So bank on the Panthers winning 11-plus games in 2019. Or, you know, not. My best guess is that the above pattern is snapped next season, as the Panthers' roster simply isn't very good. Adding to that, some are wondering if Carolina can rely on Cam Newton as the franchise quarterback going forward. The thinking is that Newton's shoulder, which clearly hampered him this season, could be a long-term issue. Yikes.
7) Eagles (7-7): We're two days removed from the Eagles' upset win over the Rams, and my brain already hurts from the bad Nick Foles - Carson Wentz takes. Foles is a legend for life in Philadelphia after his Super Bowl run last year, but make no mistake whatsoever that Wentz is unquestionably the Eagles' franchise quarterback, and Foles will almost certainly be on another team in 2019. That has always been the truth in 2018, and remains so.
6) Vikings (7-6-1): If the Eagles win their final two games, they will still need the Vikings to lose one of their next two games to get into the playoffs. Well, either that, or they need to have either the Cowboys or Seahawks lose both of their remaining two games.
The Vikings are in Detroit Week 16, and home against the Bears Week 17.
FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Vikings a 69 percent chance of losing one of their final two games, which from the Eagles' perspective, would be nice.
5) Seahawks (8-6): As noted above, if the Eagles win out and the Seahawks or Cowboys lose out, the Eagles would get in. FiveThirtyEight gives the Seahawks a 92 percent chance of winning at least one of their two remaining games against the Chiefs and Cardinals.
4) Cowboys (8-6): And since we've essentially made the hierarchy all about the Eagles so far, we may as well continue. FiveThirtyEight gives the Cowboys a 91 percent chance of winning at least one of their remaining games against the Buccaneers and Giants.
3) Bears (10-4): At 10-4, the Bears have clinched the NFC North, and still have a chance at a first-round bye. The Eagles, of course, would benefit from the Bears needing a win Week 17 against the Vikings. If the Bears win Week 16 in San Francisco, they will almost certainly go all out Week 17 trying to earn a first-round bye. If they lose Week 16 and the Rams win in Arizona, they are likely to rest their starters Week 17.
2) Rams (11-3): Jared Goff's numbers the last two games: 55 of 98 for 519 yards (5.3 YPA), 0 TD, 5 INT, and 3 fumbles. Did the Rams peak too early?
1) Saints (12-2): Drew Brees' numbers the last three games: 65 of 94 for 531 yards (5.7 YPA), 2 TD, 3 INT, and 2 fumbles. Did the Saints peak too early?
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