“Alexa, how long does a Super Bowl hangover last?”
The Eagles hoisted the Lombardi Trophy nine months ago, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they performed Sunday in New Orleans. Here are some faux newspaper headlines I’ve been workshopping:
“Blasted in the Big Easy”
“Bullied in the Bayou”
“Nightmare in New Orleans”
“Crescent City Catastrophe”
You get the idea. Simply put, Sunday’s game didn’t go well for the Eagles and that’s been a running theme lately. The Super Bowl monkey is finally off the Eagles’ back, but this wasn’t supposed to be a one-time deal. With Carson Wentz helming the offense, Philly looked like that once-in-a-blue-moon juggernaut that could actually stay for a while. But so far that plan has gone to absolute you know what. The slumping Eagles aren’t scaring anyone these days, least of all the high-powered Saints, who knocked them off their high horse with a savage beating in Week 11.
For the Eagles, there’s nowhere to hide right now. Wentz is coming off a game where he looked more like mid-meltdown Ryan Fitzpatrick than a franchise cornerstone worthy of a nine-figure contract. Josh Adams, an undrafted rookie, has risen to the top of Philadelphia’s running back food chain. Injuries to Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills have weakened an already-vulnerable (and that’s putting it nicely) Eagles secondary. Malcolm Jenkins is flipping people off. Some are wondering if wunderkind head coach Doug Pederson has lost his touch (meanwhile Mike Lombardi is sipping a tall glass of “I told you so”). Golden Tate, a perennial 1,000-yard receiver in Detroit, has taken to the City of Brotherly Love like a polar bear takes to Phoenix. Even the Eagles’ vaunted offensive line has taken a step back this season.
One flat tire wouldn’t kill them, but when you have a cracked windshield, a busted muffler and bad brakes, well that’s a whole ‘nother story. In a few short months, the Eagles have gone from driving a Rolls Royce to slumming it in a crusty Jeep Wrangler.
It was fair to expect some drop-off after last year’s run to glory, but none of us were anticipating a collapse of this magnitude. After showing so much resiliency in 2017, last week’s Eagles looked like a checked-out boxer waiting for the round to end. Can they get off the mat or will the Birds be down for the count? That’s up to them.
Now for a special Thanksgiving edition of the Rotoworld Power Rankings.
1. New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 1
Mark Ingram inflicted his will in Week 11, blasting the Eagles for 103 yards and two touchdowns as New Orleans rolled to a convincing 48-7 win over the reigning world champs. Tre’Quan Smith put his stamp on Sunday’s victory with an emphatic 157-yard performance, though a foot injury clouds his status for Thursday’s Thanksgiving showdown versus Atlanta. Are we sure that Patrick Mahomes is the MVP front-runner? Drew Brees and his absurd 25:1 touchdown to interception ratio would beg to differ. The Saints’ nine-game winning streak is their longest since 2009, which was also the last time they won the Super Bowl.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Last Week: 3
That game … wow. Where to start? Obviously, the Rams’ offense was incredible against the Chiefs but their defense also came up huge with five turnovers including a pair of forced fumbles by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Samson Ebukam was just as dominant, chipping in with a pick-six and a fumble return for a touchdown. Josh Reynolds filled in seamlessly for Cooper Kupp (ACL), delivering a career-high 80 yards in Monday night’s slugfest. Not one of the Rams’ seven touchdowns was scored by Todd Gurley. What are the odds?
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 2
Ketchup-loving psychopath Patrick Mahomes packed about 10 years of life into four quarters Monday at the L.A. Coliseum, balancing his incredible 478 yards and six touchdowns with five turnovers including a career-high three interceptions. The Rams had Sam Shields shadow Tyreek Hill because they thought he could run with him. As Hill’s career-high 215 receiving yards would attest to, he could not. How does one lose while producing 51 points and over 500 yards of offense? Being flagged 13 times will do it. Forget Mayweather/McGregor: let’s get Jared Goff and Andy Reid in the octagon.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 5
The Jaguars were Ben Roethlisberger’s kryptonite last year and that remained the case for most of Week 11, though Ben woke up just in time to steal a 20-16 win on the Jags’ home field. Antonio Brown brought out the big guns against Jacksonville, smoking Jalen Ramsey for a season-high 117 yards while also supplying his league-leading 11th receiving touchdown. Antonio’s 78-yard touchdown grab was his longest in nearly seven years. Le’Veon Bell has officially abandoned ship, which means it’s finally okay to pillage his locker.
5. New England Patriots
Last Week: 6
It feels borderline blasphemous to ask this, but do the Patriots have a Rob Gronkowski problem? Gronk hasn’t looked like himself this year, averaging just 64 yards per game (his lowest average since 2010) with a single touchdown, which came all the way back in Week 1. At least he’s finally healthy after having the bye week to heal his injured back. The Patriots paid a pretty penny for Stephon Gilmore during last year’s free agency, but so far he’s been worth it, earning PFF’s No. 2 coverage grade among cornerbacks this season.
6. Chicago Bears
Last Week: 7
Khalil Mack couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving to feast, devouring Kirk Cousins Sunday night at Soldier Field. Mack has nearly as many sacks (eight) as the Raiders’ entire team (nine) this season. Makes you think, doesn’t it? What’s great about the Bears, and at the same time horrible for fantasy owners, is that any of their receivers could go off in a given week. They’ve had a different leading receiver in each of their last five games. With Mitchell Trubisky’s status in question, we could see Chase Daniel make his first start in four years Thursday against Detroit. Buckle up.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Last Week: 4
Philip Rivers hung 401 yards on the visiting Broncos in Week 11—his second-highest passing total of the year—but also tossed a pair of interceptions as L.A. waved sayonara to its six-game winning streak. Prehistoric tight end Antonio Gates cruised to a season-high 80 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s defeat. Twelve of Gates’ 116 career touchdowns have come against Denver. Ace pass-rusher Joey Bosa saw an abbreviated workload in his season debut, contributing one tackle on 31 defensive snaps. Sunday spelled the end of Melvin Gordon’s career-best seven-game touchdown streak.
8. Houston Texans
Last Week: 10
Who said wins had to be pretty? Houston’s seven-game winning streak has been anything but aesthetically pleasing but somehow, some way, the Texans keep getting it done. It never hurts when you can lean on a talent like DeAndre Hopkins, who extended his touchdown streak to five games in Sunday’s win over Washington. Keke Coutee looked sharp in his return from a month-long absence, dusting the Redskins for a team-high 77 yards on five catches. Lamar Miller seized control of the Texans’ backfield in Week 11, absorbing a season-high 23 touches in the victory.
9. Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 8
Stefon Diggs showed no hints of rust in his return from a rib injury, snagging 13-of-18 targets for 126 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ loss to Chicago on Sunday night. Diggs has been a PPR goliath, compiling double-digit catches in four of his last six outings. Minnesota’s running game vanished against the Bears, totaling a deeply underwhelming 22 yards on 14 carries. Only the Cardinals have averaged fewer rushing yards per game than the Vikes this year. Dalvin Cook hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 4 of last season. That was 416 days ago.
10. Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 9
Riverboat Ron sunk the ship in Week 11, rolling the dice by going for two instead of taking the sure thing in a loss to Detroit. Iron man Cam Newton tweaked his ankle on Sunday, but still threw for his most yards (357) since Week 4 of 2011. D.J. Moore showed why he was the first receiver drafted this year, dazzling with 157 yards in Week 11. Reigning NFC Special Teams Player of the Month Graham Gano looked nothing of the sort on Sunday, shanking a 34-yard field goal while also misfiring on an extra point.
11. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 15
Former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson made his starting debut in Week 11, running rampant on the Bengals with 117 rushing yards while also mixing in the occasional pass (150 yards on 13-of-19 passing). Baltimore’s backfield took another surprising turn with the emergence of undrafted rookie Gus Edwards, who cruised to 115 rushing yards in Sunday’s victory while out-touching Alex Collins by a lopsided 17-7 margin. So much for balance—the Ravens decided to hell with passing by running on a stunning 74 percent of their plays against Cincy.
12. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 16
T.Y. Hilton went ballistic in Week 11, smoking Tennessee for 155 yards and two touchdowns while helping the Colts extend their winning streak to four games. Andrew Luck penned another chapter in his comeback story with Sunday’s 297-yard masterstroke. The former No. 1 pick has dished out three or more touchdowns in each of his last seven games. Eric Ebron followed up a three-touchdown gem in Week 10 with a goose egg against the Titans. He’s been on the field for just 32.3 percent of the Colts’ offensive snaps since Jack Doyle’s return from injury in Week 8.
13. Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 18
The Seahawks put the brakes on a two-game losing skid by stealing a comeback win over Green Bay in Week 11. Chris Carson shined in his return from a hip injury, stampeding to 83 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Seattle quietly leads the league in rushing yards per game (154.3), a dramatic improvement from a year ago when they ranked 23rd in that category. Doug Baldwin reminded us of his existence with a steady 7-52-1 receiving line in the win over Green Bay. That snapped a seven-game scoreless drought for the veteran.
14. Washington Redskins
Last Week: 11
Alex Smith’s debut season with the Redskins ended in a flash when the 14-year vet snapped his leg in Sunday’s loss to the Texans. With Smith shelved, quarterback duties will fall in the hands of Colt McCoy, who will make his first start in four years Thursday at Dallas. Jordan Reed got busy with seven grabs for a season-high 71 yards against Houston while also putting a stop to his eight-game touchdown drought. Mr. Irrelevant Trey Quinn showed no ill effects in his return from a high-ankle sprain, snagging all four of his targets for 49 yards in Sunday’s defeat.
15. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 20
Ezekiel Elliott took matters into his own hands in Week 11, powering the Cowboys to victory with a monumental, 201-yard display in a win over Atlanta. Zeke has been on the war path lately, contributing 388 yards from scrimmage (273 rushing, 115 receiving) with three touchdowns over his last two appearances. The Boise State boys took over against the Falcons. Leighton Vander Esch was at it again with his second pick in as many weeks while another Boise alum, DeMarcus Lawrence, brought the thunder with 1.5 sacks, bringing his season total to eight.
16. Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 12
Green Bay’s backfield committee is no more. It’s just a solo act now featuring Aaron Jones, who leads the league in yards per carry (6.4). Four of Jones’ six touchdowns this year have come over his last two games including two in last week’s loss to the Seahawks. Aaron Rodgers only had eyes for Davante Adams in Week 11, finding Adams 10 times for a career-high 166 yards and a touchdown. Marquez Valdes-Scantling wasn’t as successful, managing a single catch for eight yards in Thursday night’s defeat. Jimmy Graham plans to play through a broken thumb? I’ll believe it when I see it.
17. Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 13
A week after slaughtering the Patriots, the Titans disappeared in Week 11, no-showing in a loss to the Colts. You want to talk boom or bust? That’s Corey Davis’ native tongue. The prince of inconsistency turned in another baffling performance on Sunday, following up his 125-yard outburst in Week 10 with a 30-yard dud at Indy. Adoree Jackson couldn’t have had a worse Week 11, yielding 10 completions for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets. With Marcus Mariota (stinger) banged up, we could see Blaine Gabbert start against Houston on Monday night.
18. Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 17
The Ravens played keep-away from Cincinnati, dominating time of possession with 54 rushing attempts on Sunday. That didn’t leave many opportunities for the Bengals, who fell for the fourth time in five games. Second-year burner John Ross has been much more miss than hit lately, hauling in just six-of-15 targets over his last four contests. On the plus side, three of those catches have gone for touchdowns. The Bengals’ season is in peril, though the imminent return of star receiver A.J. Green (toe) should provide a boost as they begin their stretch run.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 14
Well so much for last week’s Carson Wentz/Zach Ertz stack on FanDuel. Hope you enjoyed my donation, FD. The only good to come from Sunday’s train wreck in the Big Easy was the emergence of Josh Adams, who scored his first career touchdown while adding 72 yards from scrimmage. More importantly, the Notre Dame alum led the backfield with 28 snaps, which was 14 more than teammate Corey Clement and 24 more than Wendell Smallwood. The Eagles’ seven points Sunday were their fewest since being shut out by Dallas in last year’s regular season finale.
20. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 19
Julio Jones continued his recent touchdown frenzy by making another end-zone visit in Week 11. That extended Julio’s touchdown streak to three games. Sunday’s loss to Dallas also marked the 29-year-old’s fifth-straight game with over 100 yards receiving. Atlanta’s secondary has struggled as a whole this year but Damontae Kazee has been an exception. He leads the league with five interceptions while also holding PFF’s No. 12 coverage grade out of 86 qualifiers at safety. The slumping Falcons will be fighting for their playoff lives Thanksgiving night in New Orleans. Good luck with that.
21. Denver Broncos
Last Week: 22
Rookies were on parade Sunday in Los Angeles as the backfield duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman rolled to three touchdowns in a win over the Chargers. For Freeman, it was his first game since going down with a high-ankle sprain in Week 7. Speaking of rookies, Courtland Sutton keeps chugging along. The first-year wideout out of SMU matched a career-high with 78 yards in Week 11 and has now topped 50 yards receiving in four of his last five contests. Sunday’s interception was Von Miller’s first since Week 13 of 2012.
22. Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 21
It may finally be time to give up my seat on the Kenyan Drake bandwagon as coach Adam Gase continues to favor Frank Gore, the last remaining running back from the Paleolithic Era. Gore continues to be a thorn in Drake’s side, out-touching him by a head-scratching 36-17 margin over the past two games. Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) will give it a go this week, returning from a five-game absence Sunday at Indianapolis. Miami’s pass-catching corps got thinner with the loss of Jakeem Grant, who is headed for season-ending Achilles surgery.
23. Detroit Lions
Last Week: 25
Detroit pulled the plug on its three-game losing streak by upsetting the Panthers in Week 11. That should give the Lions a confidence boost heading into their Thanksgiving showdown with Chicago, though they’ll be shorthanded playing without lead back Kerryon Johnson (knee) and top deep threat Marvin Jones (knee). With Detroit’s talent pool thinning, Kenny Golladay has done most of the heavy lifting, producing a stellar 14-191-2 receiving line on 27 targets over his last two games. He fared well against his hometown Bears back in Week 10, collecting six grabs for 78 yards and a TD.
24. Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 23
Of the rookie quarterbacks in circulation right now, Baker Mayfield has shown the most polish, leading all first-year signal-callers in passing yards per game (248), passer rating (87.5) and completion percentage (61.8). Nick Chubb has also taken the bull by the horns for Cleveland, flattening opponents for 406 rushing yards and four touchdowns over his last four games. This week the Browns head to Cincinnati, where they’ll encounter ex-coach Hue Jackson, now employed by the Bengals as a special assistant to Marvin Lewis. No, Jackson’s successor will not be Condoleezza Rice.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 24
Tone-setter Leonard Fournette grinded his way to a workmanlike 141 yards in Week 11, though the Jaguars couldn’t hold on against the Steelers, coughing up a 16-point second-half lead. The Jaguars have adamantly denied their interest in trading stud corner Jalen Ramsey, but usually where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Blake Bortles face-planted in the loss to Pittsburgh, completing a sluggish 10-of-18 passes for 104 yards and a lost fumble. The Jags will try to erase a six-game losing streak when they visit Buffalo in Week 12. The Vegas game total for that one is a puny 37.5.
26. New York Giants
Last Week: 28
The Buccaneers’ limp secondary brought out the best in Eli Manning, who completed a ridiculous 17-of-18 passes as the Giants rolled to their second straight win. Saquon Barkley strengthened his already airtight case for Rookie of the Year with another breathtaking effort in Week 11, clowning the Bucs with a career-high 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving). Evan Engram saw one of his lightest workloads of the season against Tampa (just 17 snaps) but came up huge with a career-long 54-yard catch on New York’s game-sealing touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 26
Tampa Bay’s quarterback roulette wheel landed back on Jameis Winston in Week 11 following another brutal effort from mistake-plagued veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick (three interceptions). Jameis will get the nod against San Francisco in Week 12, though he could be on a short leash. As if the reeling Bucs needed more bad news, breakout tight end O.J. Howard will sit out the remainder of 2018 with foot and ankle injuries picked up in Sunday’s loss to the Giants. Peyton Barber’s 106 rushing yards Sunday were a career-high.
28. Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 27
Buffalo’s nightmare offense will get a slight reprieve this week with the return of Josh Allen, though the first-round rookie won’t have it easy going against the Jaguars’ stout defense (fourth-fewest yards allowed). Kelvin Benjamin was hoping to cash in with a big contract year, but instead the opposite has happened. He’s converted just 20-of-56 targets (35.7 percent) while averaging a pathetic 30.2 receiving yards per game. The Bills waved goodbye to a living legend during the bye week, parting ways with 2017 fifth-rounder Nathan Peterman after two tumultuous seasons. Goodnight, sweet prince.
29. New York Jets
Last Week: 29
New York was riding high at 3-3 a month ago, but that sense of optimism has quickly given way to grim reality. Third overall pick Sam Darnold hasn’t taken a snap since Week 9 but still leads the league with 14 interceptions. He’s completed better than 50 percent of his passes in just two of his last seven starts. Opponents have outscored the slumping Jets 115-43 throughout their four-game losing streak. That doesn’t bode well for hot-seat head-coach Todd Bowles, who could be nearing the end of his Jets tenure.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 31
Nick Mullens took his licks against the Giants before the bye week, but he should fare better Sunday against a Bucs D that was just lit up by Eli Manning (155.8 quarterback rating). Rob Gronkowski has been the best two-way tight end in football over the past decade, but not this year. That honor belongs to George Kittle, who has surged to a team-high 775 receiving yards while also holding PFF’s top run-blocking grade among tight ends. Former Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year DeForest Buckner has been superb, delivering six sacks over 521 defensive snaps for San Fran.
31. Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 32
The good news? The Raiders recorded a rare victory, topping the Cardinals with a walk-off field goal in Week 11. The bad news? The black and silver are running out of healthy bodies. Martavis Bryant (knee), Brandon LaFell (Achilles), Marshawn Lynch (core/groin), Doug Martin (ankle) and Jordy Nelson (knee, quad) highlight the Raiders’ walking wounded. Think tension is high in Oakland? Get a load of this sideline spar between heated head coach Jon Gruden and salty signal-caller Derek Carr. You’d be frustrated too if your top receiver was Marcell Ateman.
32. Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 30
David Johnson’s renaissance continued with another monster effort in Week 11 (154 yards on 27 touches), though it didn’t help the Cardinals on the scoreboard in a loss to Oakland. Larry Fitzgerald was limited to two catches against the Raiders but made them count by going for a pair of touchdowns. After opening the season with a six-game scoreless drought, the veteran has found pay-dirt four times in his last four appearances. Among rookies, only Saquon Barkley (540) and Calvin Ridley (532) have totaled more receiving yards than second-round wideout Christian Kirk (495).
Biggest Jump: Cowboys, Seahawks
Biggest Drop: Eagles