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October 16, 2018

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 7 edition

There are only six weeks of the NFL regular season in the books, and 14 of the 16 teams in the NFC already have at least two losses. 

This week, we have one new obituary, the New York Giants, and it's the Philadelphia Eagles who finished them off.



Way back in June, we gave 10 reasons the Giants would be a dumpster fire in 2018. I could have easily come up with 15. Anyway, they are indeed a dumpster fire. Let's see how we did on the reasoning:

1) The offensive line still stinks: Check. They already cut the starting RT, Ereck Flowers. Meanwhile, Nate Solder, who the team made the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history (at the time of the deal) hasn't been good. The interior of the line hasn't been good either. The offensive line indeed still stinks. 

2) The Giants' OL has no continuity whatsoever: Check. That lack of continuity has shown. In the Eagles-Giants game, for example, Destiny Vaeao was left completely unblocked for an easy sack. He's the closest guy to the QB! How do you not block the DT lined up right over the ball? Anyway, those kinds of OL breakdowns have been happening all season.

3) Dave Gettleman is stuck in 1962: Check. Here we referred to the general manager's shunning of analytics, and his insistence that "positional value is a crock." The Giants opted at the second overall pick to draft Saquon Barkley, who is indeed a heck of a running back, but at a position where (A) it's easy to find good players, and (B) players have extremely short shelf lives. Meanwhile, their quarterback is done, and both the offensive and defensive lines are garbage. Drafting a running back at No. 2 overall is like buying 100-inch TV when your roof has a huge hole in it.

4) Gettleman is trying to build the team around the Giants' biggest weakness: Check. This was in regard to trying to build a team around the run game when the Giants have quality weapons in the passing game. Well, the run game is certainly improved, and the Giants are still 1-5.

5) Get your popcorn ready for the Gettleman vs. OBJ showdown: Meh. The two sides did come to a contract agreement, and then less than two months later Beckham publicly trashed his team. So I'll take half-credit?

6) Eli Manning isn't good anymore: Check. I mean, I don't need to explain this, right?

7) The Giants' defense stinks: Check. They're 25th in the NFL with 27 points allowed per game.

8) The pass rush might be even worse: Check. They have a league-worst 7 sacks.

9) Oh, and their special teams units are bad too: Meh. They've been average, I guess.

10) The hiring of Pat Shurmur is less than inspiring: Check. He's been awful.

So, 8.5 out of 10. I'll take it.

Anyway, it blew my mind that some folks were picking the Giants to win the division before the season began. What could they have possibly seen in this garbage dump of a team?





13) Lions (2-3)At -12, the Lions have the best point differential among the NFC's last place teams. So they have that going for them, which is nice. 

Sorry, this is all I could come up with, with the Lions being on a bye this past week.

Last week: 13


12) Buccaneers (2-3): The Bucs are giving up just under 35 points per game. Their offense can be dangerous, but it's not good enough keep pace with their terrible defense.

Last week: 9


11) Cowboys (3-3): Oh boy. The Cowboys played a mistake-free game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and pounded them, 40-7. Fire up the hype train!

Dallas did look very good, unquestionably. They had their run game going, Dak Prescott made plays, and the defense held Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville offense to 10 first downs.

As a reminder, the Cowboys did this last year, too. In their sixth game, they beat the Niners on the road 40-10, followed by convincing wins in Washington (33-19) and at home against the Chiefs (28-17). And then they got destroyed three consecutive weeks against the Falcons, Eagles, and Chargers.

Ultimately, their skill position players in the passing game still just kind of are what they are.

Last week: 12


10) Seahawks (3-3): After smashing the Raiders in London, the Seahawks have won three of their last four games, and the one loss was by two points to the only undefeated team left in the NFL. Maybe we shouldn't be sleeping on Seattle just yet?

Last week: 11


9) Falcons (2-4): The Falcons have the eighth-ranked offense in the NFL (yardage-wise), they're ninth in points per game, seventh in yards per play, and second in third down conversions, at 49 percent. This is still a very good offense, and a dangerous team.

They began the easy part of their schedule this past Sunday against the Bucs, and will have a great chance to continue to improve on an extremely disappointing 1-4 start against the Giants, Redskins, Browns, and Cowboys over the next four weeks. 

Last week: 10


8) Panthers (3-2): Over the last five drafts, the Panthers have spent three first-round picks and two second-round picks on offensive skill position players. On the whole, those guys have not panned out well enough, as Cam Newton has to try to do too much on his own. 

Last week: 4


7) Bears (3-2): Just when I was beginning to think the Bears have the best defense in the NFL, the Brock Osweiler-led Dolphins put 541 yards on them. I mean, gamblers betting on the Bears at -3 early in the week must have had the following reaction when it was announced on Sunday morning that Osweiler was starting.

And then Brocktoberfest happened.

Last week: 3


6) WASTEAM (3-2): WASTEAM was aided by two lost fumbles by Panthers rookie receiver D.J. Moore, and they almost blew a 17-0 lead anyway.

This Sunday, the Redskins have the Cowboys at home, followed by a road game against the Giants. This is sort of a middle-of-the-road team that has a very good chance of starting 5-2, though they haven't beaten Dallas at  home since 2012. 

Last week: 8


5) Eagles (3-3): According to FiveThirtyEight's forecasts, the Eagles have the third-best chance among the NFC teams of making the playoffs (64%), winning it's division (51%), earning a first-round bye (19%), and winning the Super Bowl (7%). 

Here's how they forecast the NFC East:

 NFC EastMake playoffs Win division First-round bye Super Bowl 
 Eagles64% 51% 19% 7% 
 Cowboys40% 26% 8% 2% 
 WASTEAM39% 23% 9% 2% 
 Giants1% <1% <1% <1% 

Last week: 7


4) Vikings (3-2-1): Through six games, Adam Thielen is #OnPace for 1899 receiving yards. That would be the second-most receiving yards in a single season in NFL history, which should give you an idea of what the NFL's many, many, many, many rules favoring the offense are doing to the game.

Last week: 6


3) Packers (3-2-1): Monday night was your reminder that Aaron Rodgers is still the best football player on the planet.

Last week: 5


2) Saints (4-1): The Saints had their bye this week. They have a great matchup Week 7 in which their high-powered offense will face the Ravens' No. 1 ranked defense.

Last week: 2


1) Rams (6-0): On paper, the Rams' 23-20 win over the Broncos doesn't look very impressive, but it was a W on the road in a tough place to play in freezing temperatures. The Rams have shown this season that they can win by airing it out. They showed on Sunday that they can also win ugly by pounding the run with Todd Gurley, who finished with 28 carries for 208 yards and 2 TDs. On the day, the Rams ran it 39 times, vs. 28 pass attempts.

Last week: 1

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