Halloween and the NFL have a lot in common. Don't believe me? Read on, I'll feed you baby birds.
—Both operate on the principal that sex sells: Seriously, is Halloween even for children anymore? Or wannabe playmates? And who wears less, the cheerleader at your office party or one of the Raideretts? Yeah, that's what I thought.
—Obesity also sells: Which is more gluttonous, a bag of candy or a football helmet full of hot wings?
—Both are polarizing: I've seen as many debates break out between Snicker and Butterfinger fans than between NFC North rivals.
The comparisons don't stop there. In fact, you can compare each NFL team to a different Halloween candy. Don't believe me? Read on...
We've all been there.
As the arthritic old hand reaches out from the smelly-cat infested doorway, you catch a glimpse of the "fun-sized" box of Sun Maid Raisins.
The reason people hand out raisins for Halloween is because they want to kick children in the nuts and that's just not socially appropriate.
Getting a box of raisins generates the exact response of the chubby little boy from the Ally Bank commercials when he gets the cardboard truck.
"It's a piece of junk!"
Can anything better be said about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seriously, I know its an AFL thing and all, but the NFL should force the Bucs to wear creamy orange throwbacks until Malcolm Glazer buys them a win.
What were we thinking sending the Buccaneers to play football in England? Didn't the NFL want the people of London to enjoy the game?!
Calling the Buccaneers a professional football team is like calling anything filled with raisins "fun-sized."
Never eaten a Necco Wafer? Consider yourself lucky.
Never seen the St. Louis Rams play a football game? Ditto.
History lesson: One day, a British teacher forgot to bring her students some candy she promised. Having 20 minutes and a case of untreated syphilis, she decided to gather all the chalk dust from her class room and mix it with food coloring.
When it dried she broke it off into communion wafer sized pieces and fed it to her students. And that was the first ever class-action law suit. For some reason, these wafers are still made but should never, in any situation, be eaten.
The taste that Necco Wafers leave in your mouth is similar to the horrific bile-inducing play of the Rams this season.
There is little talent in St. Louis and no team has gotten less from its recent first round picks. From 2006-2009 the Rams selected Tye Hill, Adam Carriker, Chris Long and Jason Smith. They could have had Jay Cutler, Darrelle Revis, Glenn Dorsey, and Aaron Curry.
Steve Spagnolo may be a great coach, but the talent disparity between St. Louis and the New York Giants might be the biggest between any two teams in the league.
No picture more accurately portrays the Titans' franchise right now.
Vince Young was supposed to be Warren Moon and Steve McNair all rolled up into one franchise-saving package. The defense wasn't going to miss a beat without star Albert Haynesworth or coordinator Jim Schwartz. "Great expectations" was a perfect title for what should have been a great season.
Instead, 0-59 against the New England Patriots. A game in which Kerry Collins was pulled and Vince Young was 0/2 with an interception while being outplayed by Brian Hoyer.
Candy Corn is the best selling Halloween candy. High expectations is the only reason for this. Each year, thousands of consumers make the mistake of buying candy corn. Then they remember how bad it tastes. It takes about a year to forget that taste.
I have a feeling fans will remember how bad the Titans look for a long time.
Not sure what molasses taffy is?
Wait until a month after Halloween and when the only thing left in your stash is a few orange and brown wrapped pieces of crap...then you'll know.
I once ate one of those turd blossoms as an experiment. It tastes like a rancid peanut butter cup rolled in moldy dirt. Eating one usually makes a person gag themselves and get a tetanus shot.
Slightly less appetizing is the play of the Cleveland Browns. Brady Quinn looks great on the cover of Men's Health and Muscle and Fitness. He looks less spectacular throwing into the coverages of Denver and Baltimore.
Derek Anderson is being paid a bajillion dollars to be slightly better.
It doesn't help that the top two targets from last season, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards are catching passes in Tampa Bay and New York.
Either way, on the bottom of the grab bag of NFL franchises, there the Browns sit—wrapped in ugly packages and unpalatable to just about everyone.
This crazy old lady is the last Kansas City Chiefs fan and even she knows they suck. Very soon, she, like the rest of the fanbase, will pick another team to root for. She also may grow up to be Emperor Palpatine—just sayin', the resemblance is there.
Circus Peanuts are the consistency of Styrofoam and are banana flavored.
Let's get this straight—there is only one use for banana flavored candy, and that use is to throw at smaller siblings and the elderly.
When you make candy which is banana flavored and made of marshmallows, you have failed in proportions so epic that no funny looking cat could ever be used to caption your disgrace.
When you hand Matt Cassel SIXTY-THREE MILLION after one year of success, you are just asking for a Captain Picard Facepalm.
Speaking of utter stupidity, really Larry Johnson, you think you're in any position to criticize anyone right now? You're averaging 2.7 yards per game.
Larry, I'm happy for your father. Thank you for pointing out that he played for Herman Boone and now coaches for Penn State.
However, at the moment, Herman Boone would break off his foot in your "John Brown hindquarters" and you would be riding the pine behind Evan Royster.
Take the advice of another well-known internet meme and have a tall glass of "STFU."
"MMM! These are really good...whoa, where'd it go?
"Wow! The Lions look really good...whoa, where'd they go?
What more could be said? The Lions finally get a win this season. They take teams like Minnesota and Pittsburgh to the wire—with massive injury problems. Yet, they vanish at inopportune times and then go into Lambeau and get blown out.
No team is better at giving you greatness for a moment and then leaving you with the sports equivalent of sucker-stick remnants flaking off in your mouth.
This upcoming week's matchup between the Lions and Rams is truly like a candy dish full of Dum Dums and Necco Wafers, no one in their right mind would have either around. But if you have to pick one, you have to grudgingly take the Lions.
Washington is supposed to be good.
The 'Skins have a young, physically talented, franchise QB. Snyder has spent loads of money on the receiving corps, tight end, defensive line, defensive backfield, and Clinton Portis.
Yet, the Redskins are like a vitamin-C rich apple with a razor blade hidden in the core.
The inside of the Redskins offense and defense...the core of the team, is tragically flawed. It is so bad, only an urban legend could be so horrific.
The offensive line is tragic. The linebackers are scary bad. Further inside the franchise—the scouting departments and the contract managers are even worse.
So, as a person looks up and down the Redskins roster, they think they're biting into a nice, safe, Red Delicious apple.
Then that person watched a game and is left in pain.
Speaking of Halloween, how scary is that picture?!
Smarties are the most ironically named candy in the history of the world. What is smart about packaging little hard pieces of chalk that taste the same but are, for some odd reason, colored differently?
Is it smart because you have people fooled that they are different flavors?
Is it smart because you blindly stole the name of a popular, similar-looking European candy and replaced it with utter crap?
Speaking of irony. How does a one-time Hall-of-Fame coach/owner end up with this crap? What is this garbage that is packaged and named the Oakland Raiders?
Also of note, Smarties are packaged in Canada as well..only they are bigger, better tasting, and called "Rockets." Similarly, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are both bigger and better that the Raiders.
Hey man, don't take it so bad, my city hates me too...
Here's a secret: old people don't really like those hard strawberry candies that sit in their living room. The government just sends a pack with each social security check. That is why your grandma keeps them in the living room and demands you eat one every time you visit.
Soon, Jake Delhomme will be getting his in the mail.
The 34-year-old QB isn't the oldest in the NFL. That stat belongs to Brett Favre, which we've all heard about ad nauseum for the last year and a half.
However, Delhomme has begun to throw like my grandma, so his local AARP agent might get the wrong idea.
The Panthers are terrible.
How do you draft, potentially, the best rushing team in all of football and then forget, on every conceivable level, how to run the football?
Someone needs to check the shipping route from Nashville to Charlotte because Tennessee has the same problem.
The overlying problem with the Panthers is the same as that dish on your grandma's coffee table...they're old, they're stale, and they were only average to begin with. However, ESPN, much like your grandma, spends a lot of their time before the season trying to get you to bite.
See that image Buffalo fans? Your season is going to get a whole lot worse.
The last of our truly bad candies fits in nicely with the best of the truly bad teams.
There isn't much to like about the Bills this season. They are young, inept, lack talent at important positions, and they house one of the most divisive players in the league in Terrell Owens.
Yet, they just went 2-0 with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB.
When you get two road wins with a seventh round pick out of an Ivy League school at QB, how bad can the rest of your team be?
OH SWEET! Bubble gum! I haven't had that in ages!
10 seconds later, your mouth is full with 20 pieces of Double Bubble and you can't move your jaw.
That is the type of regret that Buffalo is in for now that Terrell Owens in town. At 3-4, having only led the team in receiving once, with the snow about to fall, Owens is a time bomb.
As of right now, with the schedule looking easy ahead, Buffalo is on pace for a very average season. That isn't good enough for Owens. Much like any experience with Double Bubble, expect this to end badly, very quickly.
If you're eating a Jolly Rancher and it's not sour apple, you've made a bad decision.
If you're watching a Seahawks game, and Matt Hasselbeck is not playing, you've made a worse decision.
This is the story of the 2009 Seattle Seahawks. When Hasselbeck is healthy, they are good enough to beat the bad teams and stick with the good teams. They could even sneak an extra win in there.
When Hasselbeck is out, they are still good enough, with Senaca Wallace, to beat the really bad teams, but not good enough to be close against the NFL's elite.
Either way, the idea of the Seahawks—above average at every important position—is way better than the Seahawks of reality—2-4 and heading for a .500 season.
The idea of Jolly Ranchers are better than their reality too. It is why they sell massive bags of them that no one (I repeat NO ONE) ever finishes.
Tootsie Rolls are chocolate like Jacksonville is a legit 3-3 team heading into games against Tennessee and Kansas City.
But, much like "America's Favorite Chocolate Candy," the Jags will be all hype and no real substance.
The Jaguars are on the right track, but fatally flawed. The defense is giving up too many points which forces them into ill-advised shootouts with neither the QB, receivers, or offensive line to do that kind of passing.
The Jaguars are a good running team, but you need defense if you want a ground game. As the rest of the league separates into really good and really bad, the Jaguars have to fight to get to the top half.
Tootsie Rolls have just enough chocolate flavoring to make people forget that they use the main ingredient to buff cars. Jacksonville continues to contain just enough football substance to make people forget they're not really that good.
"MMM WOW! This is great! I couldn't ever imagining this getting old!"
Two Hours Later
"Crap, when is this sucker going to be done with!"
Those thoughts have been uttered by every person who has ever put a Caramel Apple Pop in their mouth. Similar thoughts and words have come from everyone following the Dolphins.
The Dolphins were last year's sensation. It turns out they were a house of cards.
Caramel Apple Pops combine the great tastes of caramel and sour apple. Yet, once the caramel is gone, it sucks for a long time afterward. It is best just to give up, but a person convinces themselves it will be done soon enough.
Nothing describes the Dolphins better. The defense and offense is built the right way but once a team takes away the Wildcat...the Dolphins become unwatchable.
The Dolphins are certainly a team on the rise but aren't nearly as good as people want them to be.
No one "sorta" likes Hot Tamales.
You either love them, and eat way too much of them. Or you hate them.
Hot Tamales always come in spurts as well. Buy a box, and it will be done in a matter of minutes. Then you don't buy another box for a year.
Ladies and Gentlemen...your 2009 Chicago Bears!
When have this year's Bears been average?
In three games this season—Green Bay, Atlanta, and Cincy—The Bears have been dreadful. Against Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Seattle—red hot.
As hot as Hot Tamles can be. They're chemically the equivalent of Tootsie Rolls.
The Bears and Jacksonville are very much the same story, different page. In Chicago, the team is built like a passing team with Cutler and two bookend pass protectors. It is no wonder that Forte is having a tough season.
Much like the Jaguars, the Bears have just enough sizzle to make casual observers overlook their fatal flaws.
In Hot Tamales, critics wonder why you're eating cinnamon car wax. For the Bears, critics wonder how you can trade all your draft picks away when you're a team with an aging defense and average offensive line.
The San Diego Chargers are better than people think they are. That being said, they still aren't very good.
Nerds are a much better candy than most adults think they are. That being said, they still aren't very good.
The San Diego Chargers have had a very polarized schedule so far. Wins against the Chiefs and Raiders tell pundits nothing about the Chargers, neither do losses to Denver, Baltimore or Pittsburgh.
The one average team the Chargers faced, the Dolphins, lost starter Chad Pennington and Chad Henne saw his first game action .
The San Diego Chargers simply have too much talent to not be a good team. They're winning even though their nose tackle went down. They're winning even though Shawne Merriman has done nothing this year.
The Bolts are what they are, a good team meant to score a bunch of points and hold teams to slightly less. If they stop scoring points they're not going to look good.
Nerds are what they are, a good candy meant to be eaten is small doses. If you start putting them on ice cream or on licorice ropes, they're not going to taste good.
The interwebz were blowing up today!
Alex Smith is the new QB of the 49ers! The spread has hit the NFL! Vernon Davis is ready to take the next step!
Blah Blah Blah.
The 49ers are average and can win and lose games no matter who the QB is. Against the Texans, it makes sense that the QB with the stronger arm could take advantage of their maligned secondary.
Against Indy and the Tampa 2? You might want a little more ball control than Alex Smith provides.
The real problem the 49ers have is their offensive and defensive lines are major overachievers. They work against similar talent but when you face the best, you get exposed.
Heath Candy Bars are the epitome of average. They're great and well-liked by many, but the chocolate isn't that good and the toffee is actually bad compared to other toffees.
It's the combination that makes them palatable. Much like the combination of average talent has been the right formula for the Niners.
What the heck is Fun Dip? Is it just Kool-Aid with a piece of chalk? Is it fruit flavored crack? Whatever it is, kids love it.
What the heck are the Houston Texans? Are they just a QB and WR and nothing else? Whatever they are, people love them.
It is the expansion effect. Whatever draws people to expansion teams—the dearth of recent college players, the movement of guys in an expansion draft, the cool new logo—is still in effect for the Texans.
They're no one's favorite team (not even in Houston) but they are on lots of lists of "fun teams to watch."
No one has ever said, "Oh, it's just the Texans, I don't wanna watch." Just like no one has ever said, "nah, I won't eat this pure fruit-flavored sugar."
Fun Dip has a chalk stick which is essential to the situation but useless otherwise. Houston has Steve Slaton—an average back who fits the situation perfectly.
Who has ever turned down a Life Saver?
Who has ever wanted a Life Saver?
The circular candy is still around because people buy them in droves and then leave them on counters and in purses until they turn to absolute dust.
In a similar way, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy were hired and no one is sure why they are still lying around.
As a 4-2 team, the Packers are relatively unwatchable. They infuriate fans with almost constant penalties—mostly pre-snap. Their offense is good, but not great, and lacks a running game.
Still, much like Life Savers, the Packers are very reliable. Green Bay can win every game it should and stay in the rest until the end.
The Eagles can be, at times, the best team in all of football.
They are built that way—DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, and Jeremy Maclin are all explosive players. Even the defense is a boom or bust type of unit.
The Eagles can also be infuriating.
This list has featured a lot of teams and candies which are great for short periods. However no team or candy has such greatness for such quick periods.
M&M Candies aren't supposed to be this popular. It's chocolate wrapped in sugar...not exactly rocket science. However, M&M's are what they need to be.
Chocolate for fatties on the go.
As a fatty on the go, I appreciate them—in all of their flavors.
The Ravens aren't supposed to be this big...not yet. The defense was left in shambles as Rex Ryan left, taking much of the Ravens' talent and depth with him.
Yet, the Ravens get the job done and are much better than their 3-3 record indicates. They have lose three games by a combined 11 points.
Part of their success has been their ability to win in different ways. The Ravens can win with stifling defense. The Ravens can win with big contributions from Flacco. The Ravens can grind it out with their running game.
M&Ms has similar versatility housing crisped rice, almonds, dark chocolate, and peanut butter.
Baby Ruth bars are popular because they are healthy yet can be very satisfying.
The Jets have a very solid team, and are in many ways not flashy, yet are very satisfying for their fans and for casual observers.
The Jets don't want to be flashy. Rex Ryan is looking for wins in his first year and is attempting to help Mark Sanchez mature at the same time. The Jets' best player is a shutdown corner—Darrelle Revis.
This week, the Jets have a big revenge game against the Dolphins. We will learn a lot about the health of the Jets.
Biggest mystery in football? Thomas Jones.
Biggest mystery in candy? Nougat.
—Hey Matt, how glad are you that the Rams didn't draft you?
—You have no idea man....
This picture of the Atlanta Falcons is great. Just two superstars, going to work. Whether it's White, Ryan, Turner, Lofton...they just do what is needed.
This year, the Falcons are 4-2, great for a young team getting nothing from their injured first rounder, Peria Jerry, or their second rounder, William Moore.
I don't care who you are or where you're from, Hershey's is the standard in milk chocolate. It's not the best chocolate ever but it's really good.
It's not always appreciated, but no kid (or adult) is going to turn it down or try to give it away.
The Falcons just get it done.
The Cowboys are no longer America's team. They are Hollywood's team.
Even with T.O. gone and Romo no longer dating Jessica Simpson, the Cowboys are still a soap opera.
Is Wade Phillips safe? Isn't he?
Is Tony Romo safe?
How much are the pizzas at JerryWorld?
The Dallas Cowboys are certainly young and restless. The Cowboys are full of nuts!
Just like a Payday.
In other news, it takes much more than one payday for people to afford tickets to the new stadium.
Milky Way candy bars are horrible.
No, not in the same way that Necco Wafers are horrible. I mean, every one eats Milky Ways, everyone likes them. No one complains.
But every single person who has ever eaten a Milky Way has always thought, "man I wish this were a Snickers."
Milky Ways are the lactose free-milk of the candy world. It tastes horrible, and no one in their right mind would drink it. But Mars had to make something for all those pinko-commie peanut haters out there.
"Oh, I'm so allergic!"
The New York football Giants are the same way. At 5-2, they are certainly palatable. They have pizazz, sizzle, structure, substance and everything else a team needs—except for that little something that makes them complete.
What is that little something?
It is a lot of little somethings. The Giants would be better if Eli's first name was Peyton. The Giants would be better if Steve Smith from USC was Steve Smith from Utah. The Giants would be better if Derrick Ward were still wearing G-man blue.
Complete? Not even close
If it weren't for big plays, the Cardinals wouldn't even have a football team.
On offense, it is either a highlight reel from Boldin or Fitzgerald, a 15-yarder for Breaston, or a crazy cut back from Hightower or Wells. Everything else is an incompletion or a run for no gain.
On defense, the Cardinals are either hemorrhaging points or getting huge sacks or turnovers.
When you eat Pixie Stix, they are like Lays...you can't eat just one. After 10, you feel like Superman and then you crash.
There is no middle ground when you're "riding the Pixie" or when you're watching the Cardinals—it's either insane ups or sickening lows.
When the Patriots are on, they are on.
No team in this league, ever, can stop Tom Brady and company when they are running at full steam.
However, when they are the slightest bit off, whether it's thanks to a great pass rush, or injuries, or whatever, they turn average in a real hurry.
Ever have a bad batch of Skittles? A bag that sat on the shelf a little too long or was held slightly below room temperature? It's begging for a dental appointment.
Skittles, at their best, are among the best all-time candies.
For both Skittles and the Patriots, it is important to catch them at the right time.
As of now, the Pats are clicking and look awfully hard to beat.
That young whipper snapper at QB is good. Where did he come from?
The Vikings' motto this year could be two for us, none for you. With Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson in the fold, the Vikings have seemingly laid their hopes on having better talent in the offensive backfield than anyone else in the NFC North.
Although Vikings' fans were upset when the team lost it's first game against the Steelers, the Vikings were fine with it.
In the playoffs, when everyone is beat up, the Vikings get to play in a dome, with one of the better playoff QBs of all times and the best young runner in the NFL.
The twins in the Metrodome only competition would be the twins in the little red wrapper.
If you don't think Mounds candy bars are a great candy bar, I will fight you.
Chocolate and Coconut? Unless you're one of those liberal, allergic pansies, that is a recipe for success. If you don't like coconut, get back to Germany you Nazi.
The Steelers are the same way. Seriously, unless you are a diehard fan of a division rival, you should love the Steelers.
They run a quality organization. From top to bottom, they are stacked with talent on every facet of the business. They have an owner who is renown for treating his people well.
They have the hardest working wide receiver—Hines Ward.
They have a great young quarterback—Ben Roethlisberger.
They have a top-flight defense with plenty of diamond-in-the-rough talent.
Still, they have a weakness. Just like Mounds, whose main, vital ingredient is something many can't stomach. The Steelers main defensive ingredient, Troy Polamalu, plays like he's looking to get injured on every play.
If he doesn't play, the Steelers find it hard to win and are 5-2 instead of 7-0 because he's been dinged up.
When you think about Butterfingers, Terrell Owens may be the first thing to come to mind. The next thing is probably Bart Simpson, the long time spokesman for the curious candy by Nestle.
If Bart Simpson ever grew up, he would probably go to jail, or play for the Bengals.
The Bad News Bengals jokes are easy and soooo last year. But the comparisons to Butterfingers don't stop there.
No one knows what exactly it is that makes Butterfingers delicious. In fact, the candy bar has been pulled off some foreign shelves for having "genetically modified" components.
Likewise, no one can put their finger on exactly what has turned the Bengals into one of the top teams in the NFL. In every facet of the game, the Bengals are among the best this season.
Peyton mumbling: "I got a feeling...wooo....oooo...that tonight's gonna be a good night"
Now THIS is what a complete team looks like!
Peyton's name is Peyton. Reggie Wayne is Reggie Wayne.
The Colts have had injuries everywhere and little-known replacements filling in and Indy is still 6-0. Save a close MNF game, it hasn't even been close.
The Colts are outscoring opponents by 100 points.
As of right now, the Colts have to be placed lower than the other undefeateds, they have one quality win against Arizona. Otherwise they haven't played much of anyone.
However, now that they are healthy, feel free to watch in awe as Peyton Manning shatters your already high expectations.
Plus...you KNOW you wanna kick it with Adam Nougatieri.
Why is Snickers this low? Because the next two candies are Halloween classics.
I've got your Orange Crush right here
I can already sense more discussion about Krackel being the #2 candy than Denver being the number two team. So let's end that right here.
Krackel is to Halloween like jellybeans are to Easter.
Is is the best candy served? Debatable.
But almost every person you ask wishes they could find Krackle year round. Everyone wishes that Krackel could be purchased in sizes where you could eat less than 20 to be satisfied.
But no, the Halloween Hershey's multi pack is the only place you can find Krackle. If you blink, you might miss it.
America feels the same way about the Denver Broncos.
This team of destiny is roughly three football bounces away from being 0-6 and somehow managed to strike gold on every single free agent they brought in this past off season.
A recent ESPN poll showed that almost all of America believes Denver will lose before Indy or New Orleans will.
So under-appreciated, yet so awesome.
Just like pouring milk chocolate over crisped rice.
Here's a little hint for you younger readers out there.
There isn't really razor blades in your apples and your baked goods aren't poisoned. If any wrappers are opened, they're still probably safe. Unless you killed some neighborhood dog, there isn't anyone in your neighborhood trying to kill you.
The whole, "screening" process which parents do before you get to eat your candy is a clever ploy to remove as many Reese's Peanut Butter Cups as possible without children noticing.
There are charts and graphs for this sort of thing.
This year, count how many Reese's you get while walking through your neighborhood and how many you still have after your parents screen your bag for "safety."
I guarantee it will have decreased by half.
The New Orleans Saints have become the class of the NFL. They have that undeniable combination of chocolate and peanut butter...uh, I mean offense and defense, which it takes to succeed in the NFL.
You can't have one without the other.
The Saints are top 10 in both categories and don't let up on their opponents for a second.
They are who everyone will be looking for on any given Sunday—a lot like your parents watch out for Reese's
Michael Schottey is a Detroit Lions Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the producer and host of The Average Joe Sports Show on 860AM KNUJ (New Ulm, MN). He is also an NFL Analyst and Senior Writer for DraftTek.com.