Monday, December 29, 2014

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 8

Week 7 of the NFL season is in the books, but there are no new obituaries this week after we killed off the Giants and Vikings a week ago. Let's just get right to it. Graveyard

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 8

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Week 7 of the NFL season is in the books, but there are no new obituaries this week after we killed off the Giants and Vikings a week ago. Let's just get right to it.

Graveyard

Hierarchy

13) Rams (3-4)

Kellen Clemens is apparently still in the league, and not only that, he's the backup QB for the Rams. That's what I learned this week when I heard that Sam Bradford was done for the season with a torn ACL. Clemens has stuck in the league for 8 years, and has a career QB rating of 62.2. Clemens will now lead a team that has not lived up to expectations on defense, and can't run the ball. We'll keep the Rams alive for a week, just to see if they can give the Seahawks a game on Monday Night Football, and if not, it'll probably be pretty safe to kill them off.

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12) The Washington team (2-4)

RG3 led 5 TD drives last week against the Bears. They were the following distances:

  • 80 yards
  • 74 yards
  • 83 yards
  • 80 yards
  • 80 yards 

That's impressive. He threw for 298 yards on just 29 attempts (10.3 YPA) and ran for 84 yards on the ground. That has to be his most encouraging game of the season so far. Unfortunately, Washington will now take this momentum into Denver, where a Peyton spanking awaits them.

11) Cardinals (3-4)

Here's what I wrote about Cardinals LT Levi Brown after Week 1 this season:

"Wow is LT Levi Brown bad. Here are a few of his worst moments from last Sunday. They all look the same, but these are three different plays:"

Welp... The Cardinals traded Levi Brown to the Steelers and inserted a guy by the name of Bradley Sowell into the lineup at LT. Sowell might even be worse. Here's a play from the first Cardinals series last week, that resulted in a 14 yard sack. Sowell is highlighted by the arrow (duh):

Yikes.

 

10) Falcons (2-4)

The Falcons play the aforementioned Cardinals this week in Arizona. The loser of that game will have five losses, and both teams play in divisions where the division leader only has 1 loss. The loser of that game has almost no chance of winning their division (not that the Cardinals really did in the first place), and very slim odds of winning a wildcard berth. It's do or die for 2 bird teams this week.

9) Eagles (3-4)

Nick Foles' performance last Sunday was about as bad you can possibly play without turning the ball over.

8) Bears (4-3)

Jay Cutler will be out at least 4 weeks with a torn groin, and Lance Briggs will be out at least 6 weeks with a small fracture in his shoulder. Obviously those are two enormous losses. At least the Bears have their bye this week, but then they'll face the Packers, Lions, and Ravens, which will be a difficult stretch to navigate without their starting QB.

In 2011, the Bears lost Cutler for the final 6 games, and went 1-5. That was a team with a defense that gave up 21.3 points per game on defense. The 2013 Bears defense is giving up 29.4 points per game.

On a side note, Sam Malone knows how Jay Cutler is feeling right now, nursing that groin injury:

7) Panthers (3-3)

When you look at the wildcard picture in the NFC, you have to pretty much pencil in the 49ers or Seahawks (whichever one doesn't win the NFC West) for one spot, and then you kind of look at the NFC North and think that it could come down to the Lions or Bears, with the Packers more than likely winning that division. But with Jay Cutler out at least 4 weeks, and the Lions having a bad defense, don't sleep on this Panthers team.

The Panthers used their first two draft picks on DTs Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. I recall a lot of pundits grading their draft unfavorably, and so I googled "NFL draft grades" to look up some of those grades. The first 5 that I found were C, C+, C, C, and C. Lotulelei and Short have really solidified the interior of the Panthers defense, and the Panthers have the 3rd ranked D in the NFL. They are legit contenders.

6) Lions (4-3)

The Lions have a very easy upcoming schedule. They play the Cowboys this week, and while the Boys are a good opponent, it is a home game after Dallas just had to travel to Philly. Then the Lions have their bye before taking on the Cutler-less (Cutless?) Bears, the not-so-good Steelers, and the disaster that is the Buccaneers. If they come out of that stretch anywhere less than 3-1, they are flat-out pretenders.  

5) Cowboys (4-3)

The Cowboys won a huge, division-swinging game over the Eagles last week, but were very unimpressive in doing so. To begin, the Eagles were giving up a hair under 30 points per game this season. The Cowboys managed just 17 points and 9 punts, despite the Eagles consistently bungling through 3, 4, and 5 play drives.

Meanwhile, defensively, while the Cowboys' defense is getting a lot of credit for shutting down the Eagles' high octane offense, it had more to do with Nick Foles missing wide open receivers than Dallas really forcing the Eagles into bad plays.

Sheil Kapadia of Birds 24/7 broke down a number of Eagles missed opportunities, and in the interest of keeping the screen shots somewhere south of 100 images, he only showed the most glaring examples. But this was a game the Cowboys should have lost if the Eagles had gotten so much as a bad performance (as opposed to an absolutely awful one) from their QB.

4) 49ers (5-2)

After rattling off 4 straight wins, the 49ers have two consecutive byes.

3) Packers (4-2)

Eddie Lacy has 301 rushing yards over the last 3 weeks, giving the Packers the rushing game that they haven't had in ages to go along with their potent aerial attack.

And look at the awareness that this kid showed at the conclusion of the Ravens game. He got the first down, knew the Ravens could no longer stop the clock, and he slid down in bounds:

Love it. Great awareness by a rookie. It's insane to me that Lacy was the 4th running back taken in the 2013 draft. Steal.

2) Saints (5-1)

Here are the Saints leading rusher totals for the first 6 games:

 

  • Pierre Thomas: 43 yards
  • Pierre Thomas: 29 yards
  • Khiry Robinson: 38 yards
  • Khiry Robinson: 37 yards
  • Pierre Thomas: 36 yards
  • Khiry Robinson: 53 yards

 

Drew Brees and the Saints' passing attack is great and all, but if they have to play on the road in the playoffs in unfavorable weather conditions, do they have a reliable back to get them tough yardage in key spots? This offense, while explosive, does not have much balance.

1) Seahawks (6-1)

The Seahawks got to face two terrible offenses in the Titans and Cardinals the last two weeks. They gave up 223 and 234 yards, respectively. And now they get to face the Kellen Clemens led Rams, and the Mike Glennon led Bucs. Good times fo the Seahawks D.

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