NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 5
Week 5 of the NFL season is in the books. There are no new obituaries this week, but the Giants are on life support. Let's just get right to it.
15) Giants (0-5)
If the Giants don't start winning and end up picking in the Top 5, what do they do?
There are a number of elite QB prospects who could be taken in the first 10 picks. Assuming they declare for the draft, those names include Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Hundley, Marcus Mariota, and Tajh Boyd. By far and away, the QB position in football is the most important position in sports, and often can be the hardest to find. If you have a chance to get an elite prospect at the top of the draft in a rich QB class, it's tough to pass that up that opportunity. They don't come along very often, unless you're a perennial bottom feeder.
Eli Manning will be 33 in January, and the Giants will need to decide if the current cast of characters on their team can no longer compete for the Super Bowl. They've had some injuries this year, but even without them, it sure doesn't look like this team is anything close to being competitive. If they do go the QB route, what do you do with Eli? Do you trade him? Do you cut him? The Giants need to keep those options open. While 33 isn't exactly ancient for a QB (look at what Eli's brother is doing at 37), how old will Eli be before the Giants can rebuild around him once again?
Despite his poor season so far, Eli can still play. Moving on from him would mean a significant step backward in the short term, but would signal an honest assessment of what their team has become... an accomplished, but over the hill team that probably needs to start over. That would also probably mean the end for Tom Coughlin, crazy as that sounds for a head coach with 2 Super Bowl wins in the last 6 years. After all, if you're going to start over, you probably won't want to do so with a head coach who is nearing 70 years of age, even with how great he has been.
There's a sentiment that Coughlin is an untouchable in New York. Don't be so sure of that. If he were 57 instead of 67, then yes, he'd be untouchable. The Giants have a very interesting offseason forthcoming if they can't turn the ship around, and the 2014 Giants may look a lot different.
For the purpose of the hierarchy/obituary, we'll keep them alive for now, seeing as the NFC East leader is 2-3.
14) The Washington team (1-3)
I'll bet that most Washington fans had their team penciled in at 3-1 heading into their bye week when the schedules were released. Instead, they're the opposite. They are dead last in the NFL in total defense, and 2nd worst in yards per play allowed. Washington enters the 2nd quarter of their season facing a portion of their schedule that can do further damage to Washington's sieve defense. Here is where their next 4 opponents rank in terms of yards per game and yards per play:
Good luck, Jim Haslett.
13) Vikings (1-3)
The Vikings have rightfully come to the conclusion that Christian Ponder stinks, as evidenced by their signing of Josh Freeman. Good for them. Unfortunately, Freeman stinks too.
12) Rams (2-3)
In preparation for doing this hierarchy/obituary series, I'll often watch as many of the NFC games as I can. I'll almost always watch any NFC team vs NFC team game, but will occasionally skip an NFC team vs AFC team game. For a fee, NFL.com has a "condensed version" of every game in which they cut out all the non-action in between each play. You can get through a game in about 25 minutes, which makes it possible for me to see so many other games.
I have a confession to make. I did not watch the Rams-Jaguars game last week. That was because the Rams and Jaguars were playing.
The Rams can resume losing in Week 6.
11) Panthers (1-3)
The Panthers are an oddity. They're 3rd in the NFL in defense and they have a point differential of +16. Unfortunately for them, Cam Newton has not been productive. A look at his numbers in comparison to the rest of the NFL:
Plus, only 7 QBs have more INTs, despite the Panthers already having their bye. Cam Newton is an amazing talent, but he's not playing up to expectations.
10) Falcons (1-4)
You guys know what a survivor pool is, right? In case you don't, I'll briefly explain. Each week, starting in Week 1, you can pick any team you'd like to win. If the team you picked wins, you move on to Week 2, but are no longer allowed to pick that team for the rest of the season. For the most part, barring a crazy upset, it's pretty easy to survive the first few weeks of the season. It becomes more difficult when your options begin to dwindle as the season progresses. Whoever survives in the pool the longest wins the pot.
Last week, I was left with a decision between two teams. I could take the Rams against the hapless Jags, or the Falcons against the Jets. I was leery of taking the Rams, because, well, the Rams stink, but I was also fully aware that the Falcons were no sure thing either. Anyway, I took the Falcons.
As I watched the Falcons-Jets Monday night game unfold, I was reminded of how much I hate the Falcons and their overratedness (if that's not a word, it is now). Late in that game on a 4th down, they needed to convert to keep the game alive. The Falcons got a ridiculous pass interference call to keep their drive alive. Awful call, through and through. They scored shortly thereafter, and took the lead.
It was at that point that I stopped caring about staying alive in my survivor pool and just wanted this fraud team to lose. That's a rarity. The Jets obliged by driving into FG range and burying the Falcons on a kick with no time left on the clock.
The Falcons were 14-4 last season (including the playoffs), but won 8 of those games by a TD or less. They were not the juggernaut that their record would indicate. This season, they're losing those close games.
The Falcons are now 4 games behind the Saints in the NFC South, with a head-to-head loss tacked on for good measure. It appears as though the Falcons' only real shot to make the playoff would be via the wildcard at this point, but they better start winning.
Oh, and Julio Jones is done for the season with a foot injury.
Oh, and the Braves are done for the season too.
9) Eagles (2-3)
Yo ESPN... Why do you have Dallas listed above Philly in the NFC East? Do you not see the division records?
8) Cardinals (3-2)
The 2013 Cardinals remind me a little of the 2012 Cardinals, who started 4-0, and had a record that didn't match their talent level. The difference is that the 2012 Cards played some good teams: the Seahawks, Pats, Eagles (who were 2-0 at the time), and Dolphins. They then proceeded to lose 9 straight games.
Aside from the 5-0 Saints (who blew them out), the 2013 Cards have played the Rams, Lions, Bucs, and Panthers. That's not exactly a murderers row.
Up next will be the Niners, Seahawks, Falcons, a bye, and then the Texans, who were all playoff teams last year. Another losing streak could be on the horizon.
7) Cowboys (2-3)
Jerry Jones on the Cowboys playing the Broncos tight last Sunday:
"I know what's going to happen to me when I say this, but that's a good term," Jones said. "This is a morale victory. It's not a loser talking here. We can build off this. I feel as good as you could possible feel at 2-3. We are going to win enough games to get where we want to be. And get knocking on the door to where we want to be. This was a moral victory to day for us."
Congrats on your moral victoy, Jerry. Obligatory: Jerry Jones, please live to be 150.
On the bright side for the Boys, Tony Romo is absolutely lighting it up. Here is how he compares with the rest of the QBs around the league:
6) Lions (3-2)
Without Calvin Johnson, the Packers were not afraid of being burnt on the back end. As a result, they racked up 5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. The Packers had previously allowed 26 points per game. They allowed 9 to the Calvinless Lions. The 12 negative plays were 5 more than the Lions have had in any game this season:
Calvin Johnson doesn't just make plays. He masks all kinds of deficiencies elsewhere because of the attention he draws his way. The Lions may or may not be a good team with him. They're definitely not a good team without him.
5) Bears (3-2)
The Bears started off 3-0, and have now dropped to 3-2 after consecutive divisional losses to the Lions and Packers. But forget about all that for this week. On Thursday, the Bears have the opportunity to bury the Giants for good.
The Eagles swept the leg. Now finish them!
4) 49ers (3-2)
Colin Kaepernick threw for 412 yards Week 1 against Green Bay. Since then, he has thrown for 127, 150, 167, and 113 yards. Additionally, his 2nd highest rushing total this season is 22 yards. He looks ordinary.
3) Packers (2-2)
Lets take a look at what the Packers 3 WRs are on pace for this season:
Their third leading receiver is on pace for 100 catches and 1300 yards. Crazy. Then again, the Broncos' 4th leading receiver is on pace for 99 catches, 1008 yards, and 22 TDs:
By comparison, the Eagles' 2nd leading receiver (LeSean McCoy) is on pace for 42 catches and 595 yards... and that's on a team that's 11th in the league in passing yards.
2) Seahawks (4-1)
The Seahawks D had a rough day in Indy last Sunday, but clearly it's still one of the best defenses in the NFl, if not the best. Here are their next 4 opponents, and where they rank offensively:
The Seahawks won't be giving up very many points for a while.
1) Saints (5-0)
This is Rob Ryan's 10th season as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. He has never been a part of a team with a winning record, and his resume has been downright bad:
When the Saints hired Ryan to be their defensive coordinator, it boggled my mind that he could continue to get so many chances. While it's absolutely worth noting that the Saints have played the 28th (Dolphins), 30th (Cardinals), and 31st (Buccaneers) ranked offenses, Ryan has done a good job with what was the worst defense (statistically) in NFL history a year ago: