1. The Detroit Surrender Lions. This world is full of sad stories. Like the one about that old lady who was dead for months, only nobody noticed and her body was eventually eaten by her cats. Or the one about Luke Walton's stalker. Then there's the Greek tragedy known as the Detroit Lions. Since human words can't adequately describe this disaster, I'll let the numbers do it: The Lions rank last in the NFL in total defense, scoring defense and takeaways. They rank next to last in rushing offense. They're 0-4 this season. Thanks to their fellow 0-fers -- the Bengals, Rams and Texans -- they're not the only winless team, but they have been outscored by a total 81 points over those four games...which is the most they've been outscored by through four games in franchise history. HISTORICAL FAIL.
Rod Marinelli -- who is 10-26 as the Lions' coach -- isn't quitting, but he wouldn't exactly start an argument with owner William Clay Ford if Ford decided to can him. "I always look at authority, and I respect authority -- which a lot of times that doesn't happen in this country. I look at authority, and I take my marching orders from there. Authority is everything in my life, and there’s a certain chain of command that I'll always follow, and I do a good job of that." Well, Marinelli might be a miserable coach who's leading a terrible team to one testicle-clenching defeat after another, but the dude RESPECTS AUTHORITAH. So he has that going for him at least...
2. The Seattle Seahawks. Here's a direct quote from Seattle's team report: "What was supposed to be a landmark season for Seattle’s defense has instead turned into a painful nightmare." Okay, here's a bonus quote: "The same 11 players who were on the verge of setting the franchise record for fewest points allowed in a season has instead collapsed into a smoldering heap." It's been a fucking nightmare alright. And I should know; I drafted their defense in my fantasy league. In five of their last seven games -- dating to last season -- the Seahawks have given up at least 34 points, including 44 in last Sunday's loss to the New York Giants. The Seahawks rank 26th in total defense, 24th in rushing defense and 25th in passing defense. At this point, they probably couldn't tackle an old lady who was trying to cross the street in front of an oncoming bus full of exploding ninjas. It's that bad.
According to linebacker Leroy Hill: "Football and every sport is about swagger. You have to walk with a swagger and you have to play with a swagger. Right now we are on our heels and not playing with our swagger." Damn tootin'. They're walking more like guys who for some bizarre reason decided to tuck their junk between their legs just to, you know, see what they'd look like without junk. And that, my friends, leads to a scary place.
3. The St. Louis Rams. The Rams avoided a better (which is actually a worse) ranking the only way they know how: By not playing. But coach Jim Haslett feels pretty happy about what he saw during the team's latest practice. "I thought the energy was good. I thought the tempo on offense was excellent and I thought that the defense played fast, it was limited reps, but again they moved around well, they were into it. I think that's all you can ask. I liked the tempo of the offense today." That's one thing you can say about the 2008 Rams: They set a mean tempo during practice.
4. The San Francisco 49ers. Coach Mike Nolan showed up about 25 minutes late for his press conference on Monday because, quite frankly, dude is freaking busy. "Obviously, meetings run a little long when you've got things to fix. We'll spend most of the [week] trying to correct the problems that occurred yesterday and cost us the game. There are a lot of things we have to work on. We have a lot of work. We have things to do." He then stared longingly off into the distance, imagining a world full of cotton candy clouds and unicorns, where chocolate rivers flow uphill and the skies rain peppermints and puppy dogs. Random statistical note for J.T. O'Sullivan fans: He's thrown five interceptions the past two games and is tied with Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese with a league-high six interceptions.
5. The Philadelphia Eagles. When you want a bubble burst and you want it done quickly, just call on Donovan McNabb and the Feel Good Eagles! After once again being annointed as a preseason contender, they've fallen to 2-3 and are practically dead and buried in a division where every other team has already won four games. And McNabb is taking it kind of hard. "I made a comment after [last Sunday's game] that's worth repeating -- I’m embarrassed. I'm embarrassed with the way we played the past two weeks. I believe that we lost to teams we should have beaten. Not because I think they are not good -- they are. But I still believe we are better; we just didn't show it." Why must poor Donovan McNabb always lose to lesser teams? WHY MUST THAT ALWAYS HAPPEN TO HIM?!
6. The Green Bay Packers. The shine is off the Aaron Rodgers apple, huh? Not that it's his fault the Packers are struggling. He's actually been playing pretty well. But if they can't win at home with a strong passing game when the weather's great, what's going to happen when the bitter Green Bay winter sets in and Mother Nature lets the air out of the ball? Because it doesn't look like Ryan Grant's coming back this season. Maybe ever. I think we need to go check his basement for Body Snatcher pods. Because that thing in Grant's body, it's not him.
7. The New Orleans Saints. Now that Martin Gramatica has cost the Saints two wins, I say it's time for Sean Payton to replace him with this football kicker teddy bear.
According to the product description: "Our plush bear is a cutie in his own message-bearing t-shirt and festive red ribbon. He's a great gift for Valentine's Day, baby showers, birthdays, get well-wishes, a pair of wedding bears, or any reason you dream up. Put a smile on someone’s face. Just grin and bear it!" JUST GRIN AND BEAR IT. Priceless! For the record, if I ever give a woman this bear as a Valentine's Day gift, I hope she uses it to smother me in my sleep.
8. The Minnesota Vikings. Speaking of gifts, the Vikings got a few nice ones on Sunday, courtesy of "Muscles" Hochuli and "Dead Leg" Gramatica. But that's gotta be like receiving a Christmas present from a friend you have filed under "Acquaintance, Casual" in your address book. Sure, you have to accept it and everything, but you feel really uncomfortable about it. That's how Minny's players should feel about their victory over the Saints: Uncomfortable. Because they're not good, and it's going to be a long season. But that doesn't mean they can't be winners. McDonald's Money Monopoly is open to anyone! No Purchase necessary!
Don't worry Vikings fans: There's still hope!
9. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thanks to a strong defense and better-than-expected running game, the Buc's season seems promising, but at the moment the team is being defined by the ongoing QB battle between Brian Griese and Jeff Garcia. That's like going to one of those expensive dinner-and-comedy clubs and finding out that Carrot Top and Dane Cook are having a fistfight to decide who gets to perform. No matter who wins, the show is destined to suck. Which brings me to a point I've been meaning to make: Why do people like Dane Cook? How has this idiot not been bitchslapped into next week yet? He's not funny. His jokes have no punchline. Here's an parody of Dane Cook's "comedy":
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to jump into my time machine and travel back to the past in order to destroy Dane Cook's career before it ever begins. If the world suddenly becomes a lot cooler, it's probably because of something I did during my journey through time. There's no need to thank me, but you can anyway.
10. The Atlanta Falcons. I know the FutureMrs is all about the three-headed hydra that is Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner. But there are certain things I don't believe in. The Loch Ness Monster. That homeless guy's story about how he lost his legs in "Operation Desert Wonder." And Atlanta-based sports teams named after birds. Can't do it. Won't do it.
11. The Arizona Cardinals. Now that they've built an insurmountable one-game stranglehold on the pooptastic NFC West, the Cardinals can go ahead and kick it into cruise control for the rest of the regular season. Which is good, because Kurt Warner is way behind on his Bible crossword puzzles.
Only our Lord's holy brainteasers can save us from Satan's power.
Speaking of Warner, the Arizona Daily Sun recently published an article titled Cardinals starting signal-caller increasing thoughts of retirement. Look, Kurtis Eugene Warner is a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP and league champion. I think he's earned a better description than "Cardinals starting signal-caller." That's like referring to former President Bill Clinton as "Monica Lewinsky's most famous blowjob recipient."
12. The Chicago Bears. Now that the Cubs and White Sox have been unceremoniously expelled from the MLB playoffs, the Bears are once again the talk of the town. The defense is still reasonably strong, Kyle Orton is surprisingly competent (which might be the best praise any Chicago quarterback has ever received), and Matt Forte has been everything Cedric Benson's mom hoped her son would be.
For these reasons, the fans are starting to work themselves into a foamy lather. Everywhere I turn -- at work, on the train, in the streets -- people are boldy exclaiming, "You know, the Bears should be 5-0, since they could have won those games against the Panthers and Buccaneers." You mean the games where the Bear's defense kicked away double-digit fourth-quarter leads and the offense couldn't help them out by getting a first down? Yeah, I thought so. This is what I refer to as CDS: Chicagoan Delusionary Syndrome. We denizens of the Windy City continually fool ourselves into believing that THIS YEAR IS OUR YEAR. That is, right up until we get kicked in the mouth by the iron-shod hooves of reality, at which time we realize with a dread certainty that NEXT YEAR IS OUR YEAR. But next year is never our year. Never.
What, you're not used to this by now?!
13. The Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys continue to be extremely sensitive to criticism, including linebacker Bradie James, who's sick of people dissing the 'Boys for barely beating the Bungles. "We played well enough to win the game. I know everybody is going to say whatever, but I never apologize for a win. There are no bad wins." Don't you hate it when people are all saying "whatever" and stuff? Me too. But I have to disagree: There are bad wins, Bradie. And bad losses. And yes, even bad pizza. The Cowboys need to get their act together or the Terrell Owens Era is going to pass them by without a Super Bowl victory. And the Terrell Owens Era has a way of doing that to teams.
14. The Washington Redskins. You know that incredibly satisfied feeling you have after Thanksgiving dinner? You're all warm and full and happy, and you get to snack on leftovers for the rest of the night. That's where the 'Skins are at right now. Back-to-back road wins over Dallas and Philly were Thanksgiving dinner, and their next three games -- against the Rams, Browns and Lions -- are the yummy leftovers. Only they're actually quite yucky and not to be taken internally. It's good times to be an insensitive racial sterotype in the NFL!
15. The Carolina Panthers. I have nothing bad or snarky to say about these guys. Mostly because FutureMrs won't let me. (Psst: She has a team-crush on the Panthers. Keep this in mind when commenting.)
15. The New York Giants. They're the defending champions and they're undefeated, so it doesn't matter how dorky their quarterback is or that their star receiver is an idiot. Until somebody knocks them up, they will remain at the bottom of these rankings.
Speaking of said star receiver, this is what he had to say about his one-game suspension: "I don't understand why it is so hard for everybody to understand [why he missed team meetings without contacting the team]. I haven't lost any sleep. I am in great spirits. I enjoyed my week off. If I had to make this decision again I would do the same. I didn't feel any reason to explain to them what happened or why I missed because I don't feel it's really anybody's business." Nice, Plax. You know, if I ever get the chance to talk to a genetic engineer, I'm going to ask why NFL receivers have an extra douchebag gene where their shame gene should be. I've always wondered.