NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 12
Week 11 of the NFL season is in the books, and we have a new obituary to write this week. The Eagles put the final nail in the coffin of the RG3's.
The Washington team (3-7)
Let's sum up Washington's future, in bullet point form:
• The player they are being built around is a fragile QB whose effectiveness is diminished if he stops running with the football. Philly fans are all too familiar with that dilemma.
• They didn't have a 1st round pick in 2013, and won't have one in 2014. In return, they did at least get their talented but fragile franchise QB, but going two straight years without a first round pick is a huge setback to improving other positions on the team, and the effect of that could be felt for years.
• Their OL was good for one mirage of a season in which opposing defenses were kept off balance by the read option, before reverting back to its usual bad self once opposing defenses began to catch up. It's also comical how easily you can rattle Trent Williams. Richarm Sherman did it, and now a referee? Really, Trent?
• Their defense is not only terrible as is, but it's also old. Six of their current starters on defense (London Fletcher, DeAngelo Hall, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Brandon Meriweather, and Reed Doughty) will be 30 years of age or older by Week 1 next season. They also have 3 reserves (Kedric Golston, Darryl Tapp, and Nick Barnett) and one guy currently on IR (Adam Carriker) who will be 30+ years old next year. A lot of those guys won't be back next season for a multitude of reasons. Some will be free agents, some just suck, and London Fletcher will be turning 75 years old. Even worse, Washington has very little in the way of promising young players on their defense. In fact, according to Ourlads' depth charts, Washington and Indy are the only two teams in the league with no defensive starters under the age of 25. And again, as yet another reminder, they don't have a first round pick to add talent to their terrible D.
• Their special teams are a complete and total mess. They can correct that, but it's not an overnight fix.
• They're still owned by a buffoon.
Welcome home, Skins!
10) Cowboys (5-5)
The Eagles' bye not only comes at an opportune time in terms of getting some banged up players healthy again, but it also comes at a time in which Eagles fans can sit back and watch something bad happen to either the Giants or the Cowboys this Sunday. After starting 0-6, we killed off the Giants here in this hierarchy series, only to watch them win 4 straight games against either backup or injured opposing QBs.
If the Giants lose to the Cowboys, they're done... again. If the Cowboys lose to the Giants, they'll have lost 3 of 4, they'll fall a full game behind the Eagles in the NFC East, and a full-scale collapse could be underway, complete with end-of-season firings and sadness.
9) Packers (5-5)
The Packers are pretty bad without Aaron Rodgers:
Or perhaps another way of saying it is that Aaron Rodgers is awesome.
Rodgers' fractured collarbone no longer gives him pain when he runs or throws, but he won't play until it is no longer a risk to further serious injury if he takes another shot to it. Therefore, the status of his return remains unclear.
Luckily for the Packers, the other NFC North contenders are mediocre teams. The last time the Bears or Lions won 2 straight games was when the Lions beat Washington and the Bears in Weeks 3 and 4.
As long as the Packers can stay close, they can still win this crap division when Rodgers returns. They'll get the Vikings at home this week, which could mean a rare non-Rodgers W.
8) Cardinals (6-4)
Anyone see this coming?
Here seems like the appropriate place to update the wildcard race:
If the season ended today, the Eagles would have the 4 seed. They would play the Panthers, who would have the 5 seed. Before the season began, would you have signed up for a home playoff game against the Panthers?
8) Eagles (6-5)
It took me a long time to make the following 30 second video that I posted a couple days ago, so I'm going to get my money's worth. Here's how many consecutive INTs Nick Foles would have to throw to have a worse passer rating than other QBs around the NFL.
The NFL stands for "Nick Foles' League."
OK, so that last line isn't mine, but I had permission to steal it:
7) Bears (6-4)
Reason #22 why I hate the Bears: Soldier Field is an absolute disgrace:
5) Lions (6-4)
Jim Schwartz might be the worst coach in the NFL. He single-handedly blew a game last year against the Texans when he threw a challenge flag on a play that was already going to be reviewed anyway. On the play, if you'll recall, the Texans runner was clearly down at around the 50 yard line, but kept running anyway, and the officials gave him the TD. The score would have brought an automatic review, but because Schwartz threw his challenge flag like an angry 6 year old, that became a penalty, and the TD was no longer reviewable.
Last week, Schwartz struck again. With the Lions up by 4 and a chance to go up by a TD, the Lions ran a fake FG that required their punter to run up the middle for 5 yards. Are you kidding me?
Predicatably, the punter got rocked, he fumbled, the Steelers recovered, and proceeded to march for a long 97 yard TD drive.
The Lions had a chance to essentially take a 2-game lead in the NFC North (1 game in the standings over the Bears, plus a sweep of them) against a bad Steelers team. They blew it.
4) 49ers (6-4)
Bye weeks are often thought of as a good thing, but that's not always the case. If you're healthy and on a roll, the bye week can disrupt momentum. I wonder if that's what happened to the 49ers. Before their bye week, they had won 5 straight games by a combined score of 174-61. Then the bye comes along and they drop 2 straight, albeit to two very good teams in the Panthers and Saints.
On a side note, what's up with Colin Kaepernick? Last season, he started 10 games, and threw for under 200 yards once. This season, he has thrown for under 200 yards in all but 2 games.
3) Panthers (7-3)
The Panthers have had two consecutive wins over the 49ers and Patriots. That is extremely impressive, even if they had some help from the officials on what was a horrible no-call on pass interference in the end zone.
The Panthers have 6 games to go. Two of them are against the Saints. The remaining 4 are against teams with a combined point differential of -225. They are in a great position to win the NFC South.
2) Saints (8-2)
We all know by now that the Saints can play at home. They are 6-0 in New Orleans so far this season, however, 4 of their next 5 games are on the road. Those road games are against the Falcons (awful, but still a division rival), Seahawks (yikes), Rams (occasionally terrible, occasionally great), and the Panthers (huuuuge game). We'll see what the Saints are made of over the next 5 weeks.
1) Seahawks (10-1)
Heading into their bye week, the Seahawks have a first round bye in the playoffs all but wrapped up. They have a 3.5 game lead in their division, and at least a 3.5 game lead over the division leaders in the NFC North and NFC East. At this point, the only team they really have to worry about is the Saints for home field advantage throughout.
Oh hey... and look at who the Seahawks get two weeks to prepare for!