Lottery FAQ: All the necessary info about tomorrow's fateful night of Sixersness

Lottery FAQ: All the necessary info about tomorrow's fateful night of Sixersness

How long we've waited for this night--arguably since last June's draft, when the Jrue Holiday trade ensured that the playoffs would not be in the cards for the 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers. And tomorrow, it will finally be here: Sixers Lottery Month will culminate with not-Adam Silver selecting some lottery balls, then pulling a number of team logos out of envelopes, a symbolic night that will cast the fates of at least a half-dozen NBA franchises for years to come. And perhaps none of the others have as much of a chance for both ecstasy and ruin as our Sixers.

It could be a great night, it could be the worst night since the Devin Harris game--if, you know, if in addition to being a total gut-punch, the Devin Harris game also had far-reaching consequences that would be felt for years and years to come. It's a night we'll certainly never forget, and it's a night you definitely want to be prepared for, at the absolute least.

With that in mind, here's the 700 Level's Lottery Frequently Asked Questions column, meant to give you all the wisdom and guidance needed to survive this most exciting and terrifying of NBA evenings. Let's start at the beginning:

What draft slots are the Sixers sitting in going into the lottery?

If you've been watching and/or reading at all this year, you should probably know this by now, but whatever, no judgement. By virtue of having the second-worst record in the league, the Sixers' own draft slot is currently at #2--behind the even-worse Milwaukee Bucks, which again, golf clap--and they also have the #10 slot via the tenth-worst New Orleans Pelicans, who (for now) owe the Sixers their first-round pick as part of the previously mentioned Jrue trade from last summer.

So does that mean that the Sixers will probably end up with the #2 and #10 picks in the draft?

Not quite. The Pelicans pick is pretty firmly in place--the only way it moves from #10 is if it slides down due to one or more of the #11-14 slotted teams landing in the top three (about a 9% chance of happening) or if the Pelicans themselves land there (only a 4% chance of happening). In other words, there's an 87% chance the Sixers will end up picking with the New Orleans pick at #10.

Our own pick is slipperier. Being slotted second doesn't actually mean that you're most likely to end up at #2--in fact, there's less than a 19% chance of that happening--it just means that you have the second-highest odds of any team to end up in the lottery at all. By percentage, we have the greatest odds of just falling outside the lottery at #4 (31.9%), though we're more likely than not to end up in one of the top three lottery slots (55.8%). We also have a 19.9% chance at landing first overall, almost exactly 1 in 5. (The Wikipedia page for this year's draft has a very useful table that breaks down these percentages more succinctly than I could here.)

What's the absolute worst-case scenario for the Sixers tomorrow night, then?

Simple: #5 and no second pick at all. If the Pelicans end up landing in the lottery, the top-five-protection on their pick rolls it right back to them, leaving us with just our own pick in this year's first round. Meanwhile, if the Sixers get jumped in the lottery by three teams lower than them, they'll end up at #5 with their own pick, which is as low as they can possibly fall.

The good news about this nightmare possibility: There's virtually no chance of it actually happening. As previously mentioned, there's just a 4% (1 in 25)chance of the Pelicans landing in the lottery top three--let's call it the winner's circle--and the chances of the Sixers landing at #5 in the draft are just 12.4%, or a little less than 1 in 8. Multiply the two, and there's just about a 1 in 200 chance of the Sixers' doomsday scenario coming to fruition.

Of course, there's lots of smaller-scale disaster outcomes possible in this draft--getting #4 is only a little better than #5, and any outcome that ends up with us giving the Pelicans their pick back this year is pretty goddamn bad--but at least the chances of us going five and out are pretty slim.

But wait, if the Pelicans get their protected pick back this year, doesn't that mean we'll just get it next year instead? That's not so tragic, is it?

Maybe not in theory, but in practice it could end up being downright disastrous. When GM Sam Hinkie made the Jrue Holiday / Nerlens Noel swap with this top five-protected pick thrown in by New Orleans, this year was about as ideal a scenario as he could have imagined: A year when the Pelicans were bad, but not so bad that there was any legitimate chance of the pick ending up in the top five. Maybe the pick could have landed at #8 or #7 instead, but then the chances of falling in the winner's circle start creeping into the double digits, which in this writer's opinion is a mite too close for comfort. #10 is high enough to get a difference-making player in this deep-ish draft, but not so high as to risk outright catastrophe.

Anyway, here's the thing: The Pelicans probably won't be this bad again. In many respects, we were lucky that they were this bad this year--New Orleans spent a lot of money to import veteran talent like Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans for a playoff push, while their franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis had the opposite of a sophomore slump, instead taking a great leap forward towards stardom. Roster-wide injury--not a totally unpredictable occurrence, given the recurring health woes of much of the squad, but not one that should be consistently relied upon--was all that separated New Orleans from competence this season.

In other words: It's probably now or never for the Sixers with this pick. Next year, with even the tiniest bit of luck for New Orleans on the health front, and with another year's improvement from the burgeoning All-NBA talent Davis, the pick could very easily fall out of the lottery altogether, leaving Philly with a pick in the low teens or high 20s, in a draft not even expected to be as good as this one. It'd still be useful, sure, especially as a potential trade chip, but to maximize the asset's worth, we really need the pick to convert this season. And 96% odds say that it will, but that 4% doubt should be enough to give any Sixers fan serious anxiety from now until not-Silver pulls out that Pelicans logo in one of the first five envelopes.

Well the lottery's rigged anyway, right? Do all these percentages even matter if the commissioner just straight up hates us?

Guess we're about to find out, huh? If you are a conspiracy theorist who believes, for instance, that the #1 pick was given to the then-NBA-owned Pelicans franchise in the Anthony Davis year because the NBA was trying to make the franchise more attractive to potential buyers, or that it was awarded to the Cavs the first year after LeBron's free agency departure to try to apologize to the franchise for the whole Decision mess and get the franchise back on track, then you might have reason to believe there are teams with more sympathetic or practical concerns to the NBA than our Sixers who might have the inside track for the #1 pic this season.

After all, the Sixers have not exactly been good little boys in the past 12 months as far as the NBA is concerned. Commissioner David Stern, as well as midseason replacement Adam Silver, both came under fire somewhat for allowing the Sixers to field a roster that more closely resembled a Summer League team than a true NBA roster, selling their players away for minimal future assets while making no obvious attempt to put themselves in a better position to win games this season. They still didn't end up with the worst overall record--bravo, Milwaukee, really--but they did draw an unprecedented amount of attention to the tanking phenomenon in the process, attention which is certainly undesired by the leagues powers that be.

Will Silver take it out on the Sixers on lottery night? Well, I'd like to believe that our new NBA overlord is a much less vengeful one than he who preceded him, and perhaps less prone to the kind of borderline-transparent machinations Stern would occasionally flaunt in order to make his presence properly felt. In any event, there's never been evidence that was anything more than circumstantial that the lottery was actually rigged, and really, it's rare that there's a team seriously in the running for the #1 pick that you couldn't make some sort of narrative-based case for why the league would want them to get the top pick.

Sixers fans will simply have to put their faith in the numbers, and perhaps in a power even higher than Adam Silver, for things to go their way tomorrow night. It's not like we as fans don't deserve it.

Even if we don't get inside the top three, could we still get a franchise player? At what point are we ensured getting a future All-Star in this draft?

Respectively: Sure, and at no point. There is no 100% can't-miss player in this draft, but that's OK--there have probably only been about ten of those in NBA history (and one or two of them probably missed anyway), and there's no shortage of should-hit and could-hit players in this draft anyway.

Ideally, the Sixers will want to be in the top three. Well, ideally ideally, they'll want to be at #1, where they can draft Andrew Wiggins--the superhumanly athletic small forward tabbed by most, especially in Sixerville, as the draft's top overall talent, and the guy most Sixer fans are hoping to be rooting for next season--but at #2 or #3, they could still land potential all-world center Joel Embiid or potential offensive powerhouse forward Jabari Parker, the two other players seen as being in strong contention for the top overall pick. There's no guarantee that they'll be the three best (or even three of the best) players in this draft, but they feel like the three strongest, highest-upside choices, and there's a slight dropoff after those three in terms of consensus and safety.

But even at #4 or #5, there's still likely to be a number of extremely attractive options. Namely, there's international combo guard Dante Exum, and then there's this draft's trio of highly touted power forwards, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh. Any one of those four guys could end up being an enormous difference-maker for the Sixers, and could very possibly end up being a more productive pro than one or multiple guys in the top three. However, they all have flaws and questions about their game that are slightly less pronounced than those about the Wiggins-Embiid-Parker trio, so it'd still be huge to get into that top three. Discover religion in the next 24 hours, if you haven't already.

Is history on our side with this stuff? How do the Sixers normally do with the lottery? What about other teams with the second-best lottery odds?

The Sixers have actually had pretty good luck moving up in the lottery, most recently landing the #2 pick in 2010 (Evan Turner--yeah, yeah) with just the sixth-best odds, and moving up in three straight years in the late '90s, most notably in 1996, when they moved from #2 to #1 to pick Allen Iverson. That's the good news, but the bad news is that the Iverson instance was the last time, and just the second overall since 1990, that the second-slotted team moved up to #1. In the 17 lotteries since, the pick has slid down a whopping 15 times, and stayed at #2 just twice, most recently in 2006.

Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com did a thorough job of breaking down the entire Sixers lottery history, and the overall history of the #2-slotted team in the lottery, dating back to 1990, so check that out for more of a sense of precedence here. It's a little scary, so maybe don't dwell on it too much.

So what should we be watching out for as the lottery progresses? When do we start to panic?

Basically, you want as few teams below the Sixers as possible to jump into the winners circle: The fewer teams that jump them early on, the greater the chances they end up in the top three themselves, or at least at #4. And for the first four slots, you also want to avoid any jumps because it would push the Pelicans pick down lower--and then, of course, you want to avoid the Pelicans jumping themselves, and costing the Sixers not only one of three available WC slots, but also their second top-ten pick this season.

You should really start to panic once the Magic's envelope is opened at #3, especially if a couple other teams have already jumped by then. At that point, it'll be the Sixers' turn: If their card is pulled, they're out of the winners circle at #4, if not, they're top three, and no matter where they fall in that top three, we should be in pretty good shape. However, if three teams have already jumped by the time the Sixers' envelope is opened, we'll already know that there are no slots left open, and not-Silver will definitely pull the Sixers out at #5.

Really, though, you should be freaking out the whole time regardless. You should have been freaking out for weeks already. They don't call this Sixers Lottery Month for nothing.

OK, OK: But Sam Hinkie is still running this team, yeah? No matter what happens tomorrow night, the Sixers' outlook could be totally different by the time the draft actually rolls around, right?

Yes, yes, 100% absolutely yes. Regardless of how many picks the Sixers end up with or where they fall on the draft spectrum, Hinkie will undoubtedly hit the phones not long thereafter to try to better the Sixers' situation. Potential scenarios I can envision off the top of my head include:

-The Sixers landing outside the top three, but Hinkie seeing enough of a drop-off in talent after a certain number to put together a package--including perhaps our second pick, or Thaddeus Young, or whatever other assets we might have lying around--to move up into the draft's top echelon.

-The Sixers landing inside the top three, but Hinkie not being particularly enamored with any one player available to them, and trading down a couple spots for an additional first-rounder or other cheap, high-upside asset.

-The Sixers losing the Pelicans' pick back to New Orleans, but trading it as a future asset in part of a deal to add more of a veteran presence to their roster to go with all our young guys next season.

-The Sixers packaging either of their top ten picks along with Thad and perhaps even one of MCW/Noel and attempting to make a run at Kevin Love, or another surprisingly available superstar.

And those are just the ideas I can comprehend. When it comes to draft dealings, Hinkie the God is on some synesthetic, '70s Brian Eno, Michel Gondry music video shit. We can not try to anticipate or predict, but merely marvel in the afterglow.

So what's a pragmatic, middle-ground kind of hope I can pin my emotions to this lottery so I won't be critically wounded when we don't end up with #1 and Wiggins?

Personally, I could live with #4 and #10. Inside the top three would be better, of course, but it just hasn't happened a lot recently with the second-slotted team on lottery night, and I think we can still get a player at #4 that'll be to Hinkie's liking. Really, the only thing tomorrow night I couldn't live with is losing that second pick back to New Orleans--that'll be as much proof as I need that the Basketball Gods and/or our new commissioner really just want Sixers fans to be miserable forever.

If the Sixers' doomsday scenario, or something close to it, ends up being tomorrow night's result...will that mean that the entire last season was just a total waste of time, and that Hinkie's masterplan won't ever actually work out?

Not really. No matter what happens tomorrow night, the moves Hinkie has made in the past 12 months have set up the Sixers pretty well for the future. Even in the worst-case scenario, we'll have MCW, Noel, Thad, a top-five pick this year and probably two first-rounders again next year--as well as all the cap space and second-round picks in the world--to work with. At least half the NBA would gladly trade their current situation for what the Sixers would then have as a starting point going into next season.

Would it be the payoff we struggled through one of the losingest seasons in Sixers (and, temporarily, NBA) history to eventually get to? Of course not. But it's not like it would be unprecedented--teams have had worse records than the Sixers and still gotten screwed by the lottery, and somehow their fanbase manages to go on the next season. In 2007, the Celtics suffered through a 24-win season for a shot at the Oden/Durant sweepstakes, and instead ended up at #5 with Jeff Green. But after some shrewd trades involving that pick and other assets they had amassed while tanking, they won the title the very next season. That won't happen with the Sixers, but it goes to show that a lottery disappointment, even one as crushing as missing out on that year's top two, doesn't have to be the end of the story for a rebuilding year.

More important than the assets a team currently has is the guy who's collecting them, and from all we've seen so far--in an admittedly small but certainly not discountable sample--the dude currently out there with his butterfly net for the Sixers is one of the best in the business. If we don't get to make our big move this summer, then maybe it'll be next summer, or at the trade deadline, or whenever it comes around.

There's nothing guaranteed in the NBA: All you can do is play your hand the smartest way you know how, and hope for the best. Hinkie's done that so far, and should continue to do so, and as long as he's got a seat at the table and a half-decent stack to work with, I like our chances whenever he decides to go all in.

UPDATE: Who will represent the Sixers on stage at the draft, you ask?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 19, 2014 – The Philadelphia 76ers today announced that Special Advisor and Sixers legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving will represent the team on stage at the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, May 20 in New York City. The lottery will be broadcast live on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. ET.

"Dr. J is one of the most revered and legendary figures in the history of the Philadelphia 76ers and the National Basketball Association, so it is fitting that he represent us at the podium on this exciting night,” said Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil. “As we build for the future, we are thrilled to have a key part of our past with us to bring the team good luck during tomorrow night’s NBA Draft Lottery.”

Grading the Eagles' 32-14 loss to the Bengals

Grading the Eagles' 32-14 loss to the Bengals

Grading the Eagles' 32-14 loss to the Bengals:

Simply put, the Eagles were humiliated by the Bengals on Sunday in a performance that was all too reminscent of how the team looked late last season when Chip Kelly was still head coach. That statement by itself doesn't speak too highly of the job Doug Pederson is doing right now.

At least Pederson's offense has an excuse, though. Injuries to key skill players such as Jordan Matthews and Ryan Mathews, as well as two absences along the offensive line, are not making life any easier for Carson Wentz and company on that side of the football.

What's wrong with the Eagles' defense though? This was as uninspired an effort as any the unit went through in three seasons under Kelly, when Bill Davis was the defensive coordinator and had the head coach's uptempo offense was working against him. Jim Schwartz may not have the greatest collection of talent in the world or anything, but this job — against a Cincinnati offense missing two of its biggest weapons no less — is flat out inexcusable.

Excuse. Excuses. Inexcusable. Those seemed to be the words of the day.

Quarterback
Wentz may be a rookie, may have been without two of his biggest weapons and may be behind a patchwork offensive line. None of that excuses many of the decisions he made in Cincinnati on Sunday. The 23-year-old threw three interceptions and easily could've thrown many more while completing only 60.0 percent of his passes. There will be better days ahead for Wentz, but he's not ready or able to put this sorry offense on his shoulders at this stage of his career, and it showed against the Bengals.

Grade: C-

Running backs
Without Mathews, the Eagles were basically down to fifth-round rookie Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles, who is battling a rib injury. Why we don't get more of Kenjon Barner in these situations, I don't know, but it probably didn't matter. Smallwood and Sproles had little room to run and even more limited opportunities, carrying 15 times for 33 yards. Sproles also had six catches for 35 yards, but the six combined targets to Smallwood and Barner resulted in one completion. Not a banner day for the group, although it's easy to understand why.

Grade: C

Wide receivers
For once, it's hard to blame the Eagles wideouts for the offensive woes. When undrafted rookie Paul Turner is the team leader with 80 receiving yards in his second NFL game, that tells you all you need to know about the composition of the unit without Matthews. To his credit, Nelson Agholor caught four of five passes that came his way one week after being deactivated, but for only 23 yards, while Dorial Green-Beckham only hauled in four of 10 that came his way for 29.

Grade: C

Tight ends
Nice day for Trey Burton with a career high 56 receiving yards as his role continues to increase in the offense. Up-and-down day for Zach Ertz, who had nine catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, but much of that when the outcome was already all but decided or straight up garbage time. And what is with the false starts? Weird issue to plague a tight end, but somehow it is a problem for Ertz.

Grade: B-

Offensive line
The Bengals obviously wanted to key on stopping the run and accomplished the task. Regardless, the Eagles averaged only 2.8 yards per carry against the 27th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL while allowing the quarterback to get hit 10 times, albeit on over 60 dropbacks. Allen Barbre is a fine offensive guard, but as we saw in 2014 and are witnessing again now, he is a bit out of his element at tackle. The entire interior seems to be struggling to some extent as a result of Barbre's move.

Grade: C

Defensive line
The Bengals averaged only 2.4 yards per carry on the ground themselves, a credit to the Eagles D-line. Brandon Graham had two tackles for loss and Bennie Logan came up with a forced fumble on a great hustle play. Once again though, where has the pass rush gone? This vaunted front four didn't sack Andy Dalton once and hit him a grand total of three times. It's no wonder he completed 74.2 percent of his passes for 10.7 yards per attempt. He had all day. The pressure has been almost non-existent for weeks now.

Grade: D

Linebackers
Nigel Bradham made eight tackles, one of which was in the backfield, as well as a tackle for loss. He was also tagged for a ridiculous personal foul penalty that would be difficult for even Bengals fans to agree with, as well as a horsecollar that was impossible to disagree with. At least Bradham was active, which is more than can be said for the rest of the group. Another very quiet game at this level of the defense.

Grade: C

Defensive backs
Clueless would be the best way to describe how the Eagles' secondary looks right now. Dalton completed 23 of 31 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns without All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green. Yes, there was next to no pressure on the quarterback, but the fact of the matter is Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll were getting beat on a consistent basis. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod weren't much better, and the zone coverage was a total mess. It looked like these guys never played together before in their lives.

Grade: F

Special teams
As usual, little to find fault with here. Caleb Sturgis did bang a 51-yard field goal off the upright for a failed attempt, but few kickers are automatic from that range, especially in Cincinnati. Otherwise, your standard Eagles special teams. Two of three Donnie Jones punts were pinned inside the opponents' 20-yard line, Kenjon Barner's 61-yard kick return set up a touchdown and the Bengals had nothing to speak of from their own return team.

Grade: B-

Coaching
Built-in excuses aside, Pederson's play-calling continues to leave a lot to be desired. The Bengals came into the game with the 27th-ranked run defense in the NFL. Now to be fair, the Eagles are without Mathews, and Sproles is hurting and Cincinnati really keyed on stopping the run. But has this coach ever heard of three yards and a cloud of dust before? Because that's all his offense was equipped to be on Sunday. Of course, Schwartz's defense is a total mess, so maybe it doesn't matter. Twenty-nine unanswered points is all anybody really needs to say.

Grade: F

Eagles-Bengals: Roob's 10 observations

Eagles-Bengals: Roob's 10 observations

BOX SCORE

CINCINNATI — OK, this was a disaster, and I’m just going to get right to it because this stuff has to be said.

Bengals 32, Eagles 14 (see Instant Replay).

That’s a now 4-7-1 team that just embarrassed the Eagles.

The Eagles are now 5-7, they’ve lost six straight road games, they’ve gone 11 straight games without scoring more than two touchdowns, they haven’t had a sack in two weeks or an interception in three weeks. After a 3-0 start, they’ve lost seven of nine.

And they are getting worse.

Here we go with today’s 10 Instant Observations.

1. Here’s the one thing that’s most alarming about this football team right now: everybody is regressing. I can’t think of anybody on the roster who has continued to improve over the course of the season, and that is a direct reflection on Doug Pederson and his coaching staff. Now, you can make a case that Zach Ertz has become a bigger part of the offense or maybe that Halapoulivaati Vaitai was getting better before he got hurt. Maybe Paul Turner. He looked great Sunday. But honestly, there are 53 guys on the roster and just about all of them have either stalled out or regressed. It starts with Carson Wentz, who is now missing guys he never would have missed the first few weeks. The defensive line, supposedly a strength of the team, has gone backwards in a big way. The running backs … receivers … secondary … Who on this team has gotten better? When virtually an entire football team continues to get worse and worse, that’s a really, really discouraging sign. It means the coach and his staff are simply no longer getting through. And that’s exactly what it looked like Sunday.

2. This offense is such a mess I don’t even know where to begin. They tried to run the ball early but had no success against the fifth-worst rush defense in the NFL. Then they tried to throw every snap and Wentz kept missing the few guys who got open. They didn’t hit a play longer than 15 yards until they were down 26-0. The lack of firepower is astounding. They just have zero explosiveness on offense, zero big-play potential. They have four plays all year of 40 yards or more and two have come courtesy of undrafted rookie wide receivers on their first career reception. This offense has just gotten gradually worse and worse and worse to the point where it just can’t function right now in a contested game. They scored a couple late TDs, but who cares. The game was over by then. Overall, Pederson’s game-planning, play-calling and personnel moves just aren’t giving the offense a chance to get into a rhythm to be competitive. They have two first-quarter TDs since the opener against the Browns, and they haven’t scored two first-half TDs in a game since that opener vs. Cleveland. That’s 11 straight games without a productive first half. They haven’t scored more than two TDs in a game since Week 3 against Pittsburgh. Terrible.

3. I don’t think anybody expected the offense to set the world on fire this year, but how did this defense get so bad? The Bengals came into this game ranked 27th in the NFL at 19 points per game, and they had that at halftime. They scored on their first six possessions — three TDs, three field goals. And that was a week after the Packers had scored on five of their six possessions in which they were trying to score. This defense might be more of a wreck than the offense because they have guys who, in theory, are supposed to be solid players. Supposedly an elite defensive line. Athletic linebackers. Solid secondary. And they just can’t stop anybody right now. Awful effort, awful performance. Where are the guys who are supposed to be the stars? Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Hicks? Right now, this defense is just ineffective and overmatched.

4. In particular, let’s focus on a defensive line that calls itself one of the best in the NFL … if not the best. Does anybody remember a play these guys have made? A play? The Eagles had no sacks Sunday for a second straight game. They have one sack in their last three games (for no yards). They have six in the last six games after starting the season out with 20 in the first six games. The main group of defensive linemen — Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Vinny Curry and Connor Barwin — has three sacks in the last six games. That’s a span of 180 pass attempts by opposing quarterbacks. They didn’t get near Andy Dalton Sunday. Andy Dalton, for crying out loud. On a team of disappointments, the defensive line has been the biggest one. By far.

5. I’ve gone pretty easy on Wentz this year, mainly because he just doesn’t have much around him, has gotten very little help from his teammates or from his coaches, for that matter, and has taken a beating much of the year. But he’s got to be accountable after a game like Sunday, when he misses open guys, throws three more interceptions and doesn’t start moving the ball consistently until the Eagles are down four touchdowns. I still believe in Wentz long-term. And he’s obviously throwing wayyyyy too much. His 60 attempts Sunday were the second-most in NFL history by a rookie. There are a lot of qualifications, a lot of excuses available. But the bottom line is he’s got to be better (see Wentz evaluation)

6. And what on earth does Kenjon Barner have to do to get the football? On a day when the Eagles couldn’t run the ball — Wendell Smallwood (8 for 19) and Sproles (6 for 11) combined to average 2.1 yards per carry against the NFL’s fifth-worst rush defense, Barner – who is averaging 5.1 yards per attempt – once again got zero carries. We see Barner’s explosiveness all the time on kick returns. He had another big one Sunday — a 61-yarder to set up the Zach Ertz TD — but he’s got 10 carries in the last 10 games and that’s absurd. 

7. Think about this: The Eagles in their last three games have scored 13, 15 and 14 points. It’s the first time since 2005 they’ve scored 15 or fewer points in three straight games. And they’ve now gone nine straight games without scoring three TDs. That even includes return TDs. That’s the franchise’s longest streak without more than two touchdowns in a game since a 12-game streak in 1998.

8. This three-game losing streak has really magnified the deficincies of the Eagles’ secondary. Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Dalton were a combined 72 for 102 — that’s 71 percent — with six touchdowns and no interceptions, and were sacked once for no yards. Just inexcusable. The Bengals — minus an all-pro wide receiver and their best running back — moved the ball at will on Sunday. Dalton finished 23 for 31 for 332 yards with two TDs and a passer rating of 130.0. Aaron Rodgers and Dalton both completed at least 70 percent of their passes for 300 or more yards with two TDs and no interceptions. This is the first time in franchise history opposing QBs have done that in consecutive weeks. That’s just astounding. Nobody in the secondary has made a play since Leodis McKelvin’s interception of Matt Ryan in the second quarter of the Atlanta game. How is that even possible? That was a month ago.

9. Honestly, I don’t think this team is prepared to play football every Sunday. They dig themselves a big hole virtually every week. That’s the coach. I don’t know what Pederson has to do differently, but it’s happening too much to be a coincidence. The Eagles have been outscored, 65-33, in the first quarter. They seem to be down 10-0 or 14-0 right off the bat every week. That’s a team that’s just not mentally or physically ready to go. That must change.

10. Finally this: The first half Sunday was the first time I actually thought to myself, “Wow, this is the kind of performance that gets coaches fired.” Now, I don’t think Pederson is in jeopardy right now, just 12 games into his coaching career, with a rookie quarterback. But I saw a team Sunday that didn’t have a whole lot of interest in playoff football, and if these next four games don’t get any better, if the Eagles play this brand of disinterested football over the next month, if this thing really continues to get away from Pederson, it wouldn’t be impossible. If Jeff Lurie is convinced Pederson isn’t the guy to get the Eagles over the hump, he won’t wait another year. Again, I don’t think that will happen. But this is a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008 and is about to miss going to the playoffs for a third straight year for the first time since 1997 through 1999. And I don’t care about the final score or a couple late scores. The Eagles were never in this game. They didn’t compete. Facing a 3-7-1 team that had scored five touchdowns in the last three games. If this thing continues to spiral? Lurie is nearly a quarter of a century into his ownership of this football team, and I just don’t think at this point he’s going to be super patient. Four games left, and I feel like they're important games for Pederson.