NFL Trimester Report: The Best Blog Entry Ever
This week I was surprised to discover that Yahoo! featured a sports blog entry as one of the featured news stories on its home page. (I’m not going to link to it, the writer’s gotten enough play from it.)
The entry concerned one of the many botched calls in this year’s baseball playoffs, calling the Game 4 ALCS play in which Yankee Robinson Cano was ruled safe despite being clearly tagged out by Angels catcher Mike Napoli “the worst call of all time.”
Now clearly that’s ridiculous hyperbole. An argument could be made that the call in question wasn’t even the worst call in this year’s baseball postseason — Joe Mauer’s ALDS Game 2 foul ball that clearly wasn’t foul, anyone? — much less the worst call in history.
But clearlythe tactic worked — yes, I know the blogger in question works for Yahoo! Sports, but, to speak in old-school terms, getting the “above the fold” exposure is colossal on a Web site that reportedly gets 1.575 billion visitors annually. The guy is probably next in line to replace Steve ”Crotch Birthmark” Phillips on ESPN.
Anyway, armed with the new knowledge that crazy exaggeration equals page views, I present my similarly-overblown trimester report card on all 32 NFL teams.
- New England Patriots. After starting the season in disappointing fashion — a shaky win against a lousy Buffalo team and an ugly loss to the New York Jets wasn’t how people envisioned the return of all that is Tom Brady — everything now seems rosy in Patriots country. After last week’s 59-0 win over Tennessee – the most dominating victory in the history of American sports – the Patriots are officially scary again. Grade so far: A-
- New York Jets. Mark Sanchez has gone from the toast of New York to the worst quarterback in Jets history in a span of three weeks. Only JaMarcus Russell – the worst quarterback in the history of the NFL – has generated worse statistics over six games. The Jets run the ball great and still have a good defense, but ask the 2008 Minnesota Vikings how fall that will get you. Grade so far: C+
- Miami Dolphins. The 2009 Dolphins have the best running game in the history of the NFL. The great rushing attack allows them to convert on third downs (where they lead the NFL), keep the ball (they lead the NFL in TOP), and be the only team in the league to effectively use the wildcat, which for other teams works about as well as a third-generation carpet sweeper. Their problem? An unproven quarterback (although due to byes, I’m starting him this week, so go Chad!). Grade: C
- Buffalo Bills. Ugh. How this team has won two games is a bigger mystery than why people watch Ghost Whisperer. The 2009 Bills will go down in history as the losing team in the worst game ever played in professional sports, a 6-3 loss to Cleveland at home. Grade: D
- Cincinnati Bengals. I’m not ready to give up on this team after last week’s inexplicable loss to the Houston Texans. Cedric Benson is having the best comeback season by a running back in league history and their schedule from Thanksgiving on looks like cake. Grade: B+
- Pittsburgh Steelers. Sunday’s game against the undefeated Minnesota Vikings will tell us a lot, but the 2009 Steelers are playing remarkably uninspired football. They also have the stupidest kicker in the league in Jeff “Fighting Stance” Reed. No surprise he’s only hit on 70 percent of his field goal chances. Grade: B
- Baltimore Ravens. I know they’re only 3-3, but with Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and Ray Lewis on board, I can’t imagine this team, currently the most underachieving team in football, not making the playoffs. I just don’t know who they take out. Grade: B
- Cleveland Browns. The worst quarterback tandem in the history of the NFL. The worst head coach in football. Poor Joe Thomas. I’ll bet he wishes he was fishing with his dad every weekend of the NFL season. Grade: F
- Indianapolis Colts. The only negative thing you can say about this team under first-year head coach Jim Caldwell is that their 5-0 start makes previous accomplishments by good guy Tony Dungy seem less impressive. Peyton Manning is the best player in football. Grade: A
- Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are on the bye, although since the Jaguars have the worst fan support in NFL history, not many people might notice. But for anyone paying attention, the Jags have won three games, but two of them were against teams that have yet to win. And they aren’t that far removed from getting thumped 41-0 by a mediocre team. Grade: C
- Houston Texans. Studs on offense. Will that be enough to get the Texans, consistently the worst franchise in the history of the NFL, their first playoff berth? Nope. Grade: C+
- Tennessee Titans. Oh boy. Suffice it to say that this is the most disappointing team in the history of sports, be it professional, amateur, American, African, Indonesian, whatever. Jeff Fisher needs a hug. Grade: F
- Denver Broncos. I believe. I believe. The most surprising team in the history of the NFL, particularly on defense. Grade: A
- San Diego Chargers. How can a team with LaDaianian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles have the most disappointingly awful rushing attack in the history of the league? If they can become more balanced on offense, this traditionally late-starting team still has a chance. Grade: C
- Oakland Raiders. The most disorganized mess in professional sports. I don’t put any stock in their surprising victory over Philadelphia. Grade: F
- Kansas City Chiefs. Despite a lousy record, they’ve played some teams tough. The best 1-5 team in the NFL. Grade: C-
- New York Giants. The Giants are talented. They’ve also had – before last week’s New Orleans game – a cake schedule. The most overrated team in the NFL. Grade: B+
- Philadelphia Eagles. 54 pass plays and 12 run plays in a close loss to the Raiders? When you have Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy? Andy Reid is the most overrated coach in football. Grade: B-
- Dallas Cowboys. Everybody loves to dump on Dallas. So I will too. Even without T.O., this is the most dysfunctional team in football that has yet to win a game against a quality opponent. Tony Romo and Wade Phillips are not long for Big D. Love the videoboard, though. Grade: C-
- Washington Redskins. The most putrid display of offense in NFL history. Grade: F
- Minnesota Vikings. With Antonie Winfield out, the Vikings’ secondary is the worst in the league. When teams start to figure that out, things will start to get dicey for Brett Favre and company. Oops, judging by last week’s fourth quarter against Baltimore, teams already have. Grade: B+
- Green Bay Packers. How do you beat a team 26-0 but still look lousy? By having the worst offensive line in NFL history. Penalties are a continuing issue too. Love Aaron Rodgers though. And Aaron Kampmann and Ryan Grant looked better last week, too. The Packers will need those two players performing at a high level if they want to return to the postseason. Grade: B-
- Chicago Bears. If the Bears can get Matt Forte going, they have a real chance of winning this division. The team best equipped to make a late-season run. Grade: B
- Detroit Lions. They play hard. But they have the least amount of talent among any NFL team. Grade: D
- New Orleans Saints. They are the Saints, so I’m wondering how they can screw this up going forward. But for now, they are the best team in football. What’s gotten into Darren Sharper? Grade: A
- Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan is the best second-year QB in the history of the league. And don’t look now, but the Falcons defense is statistically the fourth-best in the league. Grade: A-
- Carolina Panthers. What’s happening with wide receiver Steve Smith is the biggest waste of an NFL individual talent in years. I would have written “NFL history,” but I still remember what happened to Randy Moss when he went to Oakland. Grade: D
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Enough to make Bucs fans yearn for their glory expansion years of 1976-1977 when they went 0-26. This team will not win a game in 2009. Grade: F
- San Francisco 49ers. Mike Singletary is the most entertaining head coach in the history of the league. With Michael Crabtree and the return of Frank Gore, his team is in good shape too. Grade: B
- Arizona Cardinals. This team has to learn to run the football. The most insanely imbalanced offense in the league. Grade: B-
- Seattle Seahawks. Take out the two shutout wins (over Jacksonville and St. Louis), and you have a pretty mediocre team. The least interesting team in football. Grade: C
- St. Louis Rams. It’s amazing how far this team has fallen from the years of the “greatest show on turf.” The worst team in football. Grade: F
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