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November 03, 2015

NFL power rankings: NFC Hierarchy/Obituary after Week 8

Eagles NFL
Chris Christie Kathy Willens/AP

Remember when the Cowboys were good for five minutes last year and Chris Christie was interested?

Week 8 of the NFL season is in the books. We have no new obituaries, but we may have to acknowledge that we previously killed off a team too early. Here's this week's NFC Hierarchy/Obituary:

GRAVEYARD

Graveyard after 7

Graveyard note: We killed off the Saints after they looked like straight trash in a loss to the Eagles, which brought their record to 1-4. They've since won three straight, while the Falcons and other wildcard contenders have faltered. We're not going to pull them out of the graveyard just yet, but they have our attention. 

HIERARCHY

Cowboys helmet11) Cowboys (2-5)

As we noted earlier this week, the Eagles have an opportunity to all but finish off the Cowboys, which we'll re-post here for your convenience:

A loss to the Eagles this Sunday would send the Cowboys to a 2-6 record, which has not exactly worked out so well for other 2-6 teams over the last 25 years. Here's a chart from fivethirtyeight.com, showing the percentage chance to make the playoffs for each possible record (not including ties):

Playoff projections

As you can see, teams that start the season 2-6 since 1990 don't make the playoffs.

Following this Sunday's game against the Eagles, four of the Cowboys' next five games are on the road, including a trip to Lambeau Field, where Aaron Rodgers recently had a streak of 49 straight TD throws without an INT snapped. Their lone home game during that stretch is against the 7-0 Carolina Panthers.

Last week: 10

Redskins

10) Redskins (3-4)

Like the Eagles, the Redskins sat back and watched both the Cowboys and Giants lose tight games. The Cowboys of course couldn't play offense, while the Giants couldn't play defense.

Each of the NFC East teams are going to take a beating from the Patriots this year. This week it's the Redskins' turn.

Last week: 11

Giants9) Giants (4-4)

Earlier this week, I posted five reasons why the Giants' defense is hot burning garbage, which I'll simply re-post here for your convenience:

1) Over their last three games, the Giants have allowed 1,502 yards. Hang on... Let me get my calculator. Yes, that's bad.

2) On the season, the Giants are allowing 428.3 yards per game. They are on pace to allow 6,852 yards, which would be the second-worst total in NFL history. The worst was the 2012 Saints, who allowed 7,042 yards. Both defenses are/were led by Steve Spagnuolo.

Year Team Yards allowed 
2012New Orleans Saints 7042 
 2015 (proj)New York Giants 6892 
 1981Baltimore Colts 6793 


3) The Giants are dead last in the NFL with nine sacks, which puts them on pace for 18 on the season. Excluding strike-shortened seasons, that would tie them for the seventh-lowest sack total in a season since the NFL starting tracking sacks in 1982:

Year Team Sack futility 
 2008Kansas City Chiefs 10 
 2009Jacksonville Jaguars 14 
 1991Los Angeles Rams 17 
 1995Jacksonville Jaguars 17 
 2008Cincinnati Bengals 17 
 2008Cleveland Browns 17 
 2015 (proj)New York Giants 18 
 2003Chicago Bears 18 


4) The Giants have allowed 196 first downs on the season, or 24.5 per game. That is the worst in the NFL. They are on pace to allow 392 first downs on the season, which would be second worst in NFL history.

 YearTeam First downs allowed 
 1981Baltimore Colts 406 
 2015 (proj)New York Giants 392 
 1981 Seattle Seahawks371 
 1999 Cleveland Browns368 


5) Opposing offenses are converting third downs on the Giants at a 47.7 percent clip. That is second worst in the NFL, behind the Ravens. Since the NFL started tracking 3rd down conversion stats in 1991, that would be the eighth worst third down conversion stop percentage in the NFL:

Year Team 3rd down conversions (defense) 
1995Cleveland Browns 50.0 
 2010San Diego Chargers 49.2 
 1991Indianapolis Colts 49.2 
 1991Miami Dolphins 49.0 
 1994Detroit Lions 48.4 
 1996Baltimore Ravens 48.2 
 2015 (proj)Baltimore Ravens 47.8 
 2015 (proj)New York Giants 47.7 


And this is the team that is leading the NFC East.

Last week: 7

Eagles8) Eagles (3-4)

Hopefully the Eagles learned how to throw and catch during the bye week.

Last week: 8

Rams7) Rams (4-3)

Todd Gurley's first four starts in the NFL:

Todd Gurley Rushes Yards YPC TD 
 Cardinals19 146 7.7 
 Packers30 159 5.3 
 Browns19 128 6.7 
 49ers20 133 6.7 
 TOTAL88 566 6.4 


He's good.

Last week: 9

Falcons6) Falcons (6-2)

The combined point differential of the teams the Falcons have faced so far this season is -150. In the last three weeks, they've lost to the Saints, barely squeaked out a 10-7 win over a hapless, Mariota-less Titans team, and lost to the Buccaneers. 

This week they'll face the starting debut of Blaine Gabbert in San Francisco. It will be the fourth time the Falcons have gotten to face a backup QB this season. Previously, they faced Brandon Weeden, Ryan Mallett, and Zach Mettenberger.

I'm beginning to smell a fraud.

Last week: 4

010815Seahawks5) Seahawks (4-4)

I kinda feel like I can see how the playoff race is going to go near the end of the season. The Seahawks are going to sneak in as the 6 seed, and the division winner that ends up not winning enough games to get a first round bye is going to be stuck with Seattle in the wildcard round and get bounced.

Last week: 6

Vikings4) Vikings (5-2)

If I may play Captain Hindsight here for a moment:

None

Oops.

Last week: 5

Cardianls3) Cardinals (6-2)

The Cardinals' margins of victory in their six wins so far this season: 12, 25, 40, 25, 8, and 14. Arizona has the best point differential in the NFC, and there's a wide gap between them and the No. 2 team.

Team Point differential Team Point differential 
 Cardinals+110 Giants +7 
 Panthers+55 Redskins -20 
 Packers+44 Saints -21 
 Falcons+40 Buccaneers -36 
 Seahawks+27 Cowboys -38 
 Vikings+25 Bears -62 
 Eagles+23 Lions -96 
 Rams+10 49ers -98 


Last week: 3

Panthers helmet2) Panthers (7-0)

In the last three games, the Panthers have turned the ball over eight times, and have still found ways to win. There are four 7-0 teams (Panthers, Patriots, Broncos, and Bengals) for the first time in NFL history, with the Panthers being the lone remaining undefeated team in the NFC. Next Sunday they host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, when they'll have a chance to make an early claim for a first-round bye.

Last week: 2

010915Packers1) Packers (6-1)

OK, so I don't know what Aaron Rodgers' ancestry is, but the Russian's cut!


Last week: 1


Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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