Bottom of the Barrel: Do Wins Really Determine Who Is the Worst?

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst IOctober 13, 2009

After five weeks of the NFL season, there are four teams still winless and five with only one win.  Some are familiar (Oakland, Detroit, Cleveland) and some are shocking (Tennessee and, depending who you are, Carolina).  But in ranking the bottom of pack, how can we really tell who is the worst.

Should it be number of wins?  Usually yes.  But some of those teams with one win won games with very sloppy performances against other horrible teams.  This past weekend, the Cleveland Browns got their first win by beating the also one win Buffalo Bills by a score of 6-3. 

A horrible game, and hardly a victory, they still have one more win than the Tennessee Titans.  But does that mean they're better than the Titans?

A consensus might say that since the Oakland Raiders have won a game, they cannot qualify as the worst.  And leading on that, that since the Raiders are still SO bad, that the one team they beat, the Kansas City Chiefs, are automatically the worst.  But the Oakland Raiders have been pathetic this season, and for them that's saying something. 

JaMarcus Russell is making Jason Campbell look like Joe Montana, and it's sad that he's not even getting the opportunity to throw interceptions because he fumbles the ball before he can throw it.  Without a Giants muffed punt, the Raiders would've been—and SHOULD'VE been—shut out.  Russell, already fined for showing up to camp looking more like a linebacker than quarterback gets this week's Nappy-Headed-Ho of the week award.

Kansas City, although winless, played a very tough game against Dallas and even put up some points on the New York Giants.  But that one loss to Oakland must sting most of all.  I'd say they are better than their division foes, but they've already lost to them.

Of the four teams still winless, three of them have rookie head coaches (Jeff Fisher being the exception).  But last year we saw three rookie head coaches take their teams to the playoffs, and this year we have Josh McDaniels and even Rex Ryan finding success in new positions.  And it is pretty depressing when even the Detroit Lions have more wins than you.

Ironically, a team that isn't in the winless club is the first team that went completely winless in a 16-game season, the Lions.  Losing is one thing, but it has to be pretty demoralizing knowing that Detroit has one more, or even just as many wins as you do.

The Washington Redskins, although having two wins, have given the first victories of the season to two teams, the above-mentioned Lions and this past week the Carolina Panthers.  They also nearly blew a game to the 0-5 rookie coach and rookie quarterback commanded Tampa Bay Yuccaneers (not a typo).  So even though they have two wins, should they be lowered into that category with these teams?

I'd have to go with the St. Louis Rams, who are not only winless, but have been shutout twice by divisional opponents, and I'm sure their new head coach Steve Spagnuolo is trying to construct a time machine to warn himself from leaving the New York Giants. 

Steven Jackson appears to be on his last legs.  Marc Bulger seems like he'd rather get injured than play (who would blame him).  And their defense seems more giving than David Letterman's office assistants.

Of course, time will tell who really is the best, or rather the least worst.  But whoever wins that, it'll be a definite dubious achievement.  Then again, that seems to be the most they can hope for.