Thursday, September 18, 2014
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NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 10

Week 9 of the NFL season is in the books, and we have 2 new obituaries to write. There are now 5 teams in the graveyard who would need a miracle to make the playoffs. Obituaries:

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 10

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith. (Bob Leverone/AP)
Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith. (Bob Leverone/AP)

Week 9 of the NFL season is in the books, and we have 2 new obituaries to write. There are now 5 teams in the graveyard who would need a miracle to make the playoffs.

Obituaries:

It's a passing league!

Or so I've heard.

Who are the most disappointing teams in the NFL this season? Arguments could be made for the Falcons, Giants, Steelers and Ravens. Those 4 teams rank in the bottom 5 in rushing yards per game:

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Those numbers aren't just a product of playing from behind, either. Those teams don't just have a poor yards per game average. They're all bottom 6 in yards per carry as well.

The moral of the story: Balance is good, and the Falcons, who throw the ball on 70% of their offensive snaps, have none. That (among other things) is why they're 2-6. 

The Rams have the youngest team in the NFL (ages/rosters as of August 31, 2013):

They also have 2 first round picks in the 2014 draft, courtesy of the RG3 trade. If the season ended today, those would be the 8th and 12th overall picks.

They also have a very good pass rush, a good secondary, and a slew of intriguing skill position players on offense. The big question going forward will be Sam Bradford. Is it too early to lable him a bust? Should the Rams consider drafting a QB and moving on from Bradford?  Despite the intriguing and young supporting cast, what do they really have if they don't have a QB, especially in the uber-talented NFC West?

This is an emerging team, but one with a major question mark at QB. This year that meant a 3-6 record. But obviously, the Rams aren't going anywhere this year with Kellen Clemens at the helm.

Hierarchy

11) The Washington team (3-5)

This is how close Washington came to their season ending last Sunday:

After that play, the Chargers had 1st and Goal from the 1 foot line, down 3 with 2 timeouts and 21 seconds to go. They ran 3 awful plays, settled for the FG, and lost in OT. Ugh.

Pre-dating my employment at Philly.com, I've been doing this hierarchy/obituary series for a few years now. Last year I killed off Washington when they were 3-6. They rattled off 7 straight wins and made me look like an idiot.

Give them all the credit in the world for holding the Chargers and capitalizing in OT. They've made a run before, and in this terrible NFC East, anything can happen.

10) Cardinals (4-4)

If the Cardinals can pull off a win at home over the Texans this week, they travel to Jacksonville with a chance of being 6-4. The Seahawks or 49ers are going to win the NFC West. Whichever one doesn't can be penciled in for the 5 seed. And so, you'll have about 3 to 5 teams duking it out for the 6 seed. Here's a quick snapshot the teams currently vying for that last wildcard spot in the NFC, with the Cowboys, Saints and Lions currently considered the division winners:

Amazingly, this Cardinals are very much in the hunt.

9) Eagles (4-5)

Tom Brady has attempted 340 passes this season. Nick Foles has attempted 118. They both have 13 TD passes.

8) Cowboys (5-4)

That was a lateral that the Vikings recovered, but the officials missed it on the field, and the Vikings decided not to challenge for some reason. Huge play... missed. And eventually, the Cowboys would escape with a narrow win over a dreadful team.

7) Bears (5-3)

I had previously noted that Jay Cutler's backup, Josh McCown, looks like Ivan Drago.

Last week, during the Bears-Packers game, Aaron Rodgers was hurt:

McCown was reached for comment on the sideline:

6) Packers (5-3)

If Aaron Rodgers never played another NFL snap, he'd be the all-time NFL leader in QB rating, completion %, and TD:INT ratio. In my opinion, he's the best player in the league. I'd put him above Peyton Manning. There's just no replacing him.

The drop-off from Rodgers to Seneca Wallace is enormous, but the Packers' weapons are still very dangerous.

That brings up the philosophical question of... Are their offense weapons really that awesome, or does Aaron Rodgers make them better than they really are? We're going to find out.

5) Lions (5-3)

Here are the current healthy QBs in the NFC North right now:

It would appear the Lions are suddenly in the catbird seat in the NFC North.

4) Panthers (5-3)

Guess who has the best point differential in the NFC...

3) Saints (6-2)

Semi-bold prediction: The Panthers are going to win the NFC South. They're better than the Saints.

2) 49ers (6-2)

The 49ers are coming off two straight bye weeks (One was the Jags in London). They will play two games the next two weeks that will help shape the playoff picture in the NFC. This week they have the Panthers at home, followed by a road game in New Orleans.

As previously mentioned, the Niners are rolling. Over their last 5 games, they have outscored their opponents 174-61.

1) Seahawks (8-1)

For the second straight week, the Seahawks struggled mightily with bad teams. In Week 8, their offense was outright dominated by the Rams. In Week 9, they had to squeak by the winless Bucs, at home, in OT.

The NFC is devoid of a juggernaut.

Graveyard

Jimmy Kempski Philly.com
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