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December 26, 2018

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 17 edition

Eagles NFL
122618AlvinKamara Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports

Alvin Kamara once said the Saints would have "beaten the s*** out of the Eagles" in the NFL Championship Game. We'll never know, because the Saints choked in the divisional round against the Vikings.

With one game left to play, five teams have clinched playoff berths, with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings vying for the final spot. Let's just get right to it.





7) Eagles (8-7): Heading into the playoffs, the Eagles appear to be that team that everyone will say "nobody wants to play."

Well, we may find out if that's actually true. If the Bears lose to the Vikings on Sunday, the Birds will be out, and the Vikings will be in. The Bears would then play the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs, and would avoid the Eagles. 

Surely, the Bears would rather earn a first round bye, which is still possible if the Bears win and the Rams lose. However, Bears head coach Matt Nagy has already basically said that the Bears might pull their starters if they see that the Rams have a big enough lead against the 4-11 49ers, a team the Rams already beat by 29 earlier this season.

In November, the Bears beat the Vikings 25-20. It wasn't that close, as the Bears controlled that game from start to finishPersonally, if I were Nagy, I would much rather play the Vikings than the Eagles. We'll see.


6) Vikings (8-6-1): Of course, the counter-argument to the Bears preferring to play the Vikings is that "it's hard to play a team three times in one season." Uh, OK. Except... Is there any legitimate analysis out there that proves that upsets are more likely to occur between divisional foes than any other conference team? If so, I haven't seen it.


5) Seahawks (9-6): When the NFL's 2018 MVP is discussed, it's usually just Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees in that conversation. What about Russell Wilson?

On the season, he's thrown for 34 TDs vs. six INTs behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, and led the Seahawks to the playoffs, when an average quarterback would be what with this roster? 5-11?


4) Cowboys (9-6): The point differentials of teams that have already clinched playoff berths:

 Team(+/-) Team (+/-) 
 Saints+170 Seahawks +78 
 Rams+127  Patriots+76 
 Bears+124  Texans+69 
 Chiefs+112  Cowboys+14 

And here are the teams that are still alive: Ravens (+100), Colts (+73), Steelers (+65), Vikings (+33), Titans (+23), and the Eagles (-5). My conclusion: I don't like the Cowboys' chances of making a deep run.


3) Bears (11-4): I had no idea that the Bears had a better point differential than the Chiefs, as the graph above notes. If I'm the Saints, the Bears (and their play-making defense) are the team I don't want to have to see at any point during the playoffs. 


2) Rams (12-3): Ndamukong Suh has been suspended for a lot less than this:

Larry Fitzgerald said the eye poke was all in good fun:

Fitzgerald being like the best human being in the NFL shouldn't excuse Suh. 


1) Saints (13-2): The Saints are the obvious Super Bowl favorites, as their home field advantage is well-documented. Also, they're super lame for stealing the Eagles' ski mask gimmick:

The Eagles are reigning Super Bowl champions. The Saints, for now, are just contenders. Maybe shut up until you actually win? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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