What's That Smell?: It's a Quarter of the NFL Absolutely Stinking

Kenny SteinCorrespondent INovember 2, 2009

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 01: Head coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns watches as his team takes on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Browns 30-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It used to be that the league's bottom-feeders were just that; at the bottom. 

But this season, those "bottom-feeders" appear to have crept up and now make up at least a quarter of the league.  Last season five teams finished with 12 or more losses.  This year, as many as eight or nine teams have a realistic shot of losing at least that many games. 

What's more alarming is that most of the league's worst teams don't simply appear to be unlucky or injury prone—they legitimately look like they don't belong on the professional level.

For perhaps the first time in NFL history, you could argue that the NFL's worst eight teams and the top eight from the BCS don't differ very much in terms of talent.

Realistically, could Oklahoma have more "pro" level players on offense than the Cleveland Browns?

And yes, there is a difference between being an "NFL Pro" and being an "NFL Pro on the Cleveland Browns."

As the league has expanded to 32 teams the watered down talent level has recently become obvious

I'm not claiming that a college football team could ever realistically beat an NFL team, the difference however is becoming closer and closer to negligable.

Last season you had the Lions, Rams, and Chiefs as the three teams that were clearly in a class of terrible by themselves.  The year before that, it was the 1-15 Dolphins and the 3-13 Rams—and before that, the 2-14 Raiders.

This year, it appears that at least eight teams account for the worst of the worst.

For example, there were two teams last season that were outscored by more than 200 points: The Lions and Rams.  Before that, a team hadn't been outscored by more than 200 points since the 2003 Arizona Cardinals.

It hasn't happened to two teams in the same season since 2000 when the Cardinals and Cleveland Browns achieved that feat.

This year, six teams are on pace to be outscored by at least 200 points.  Yes, six teams.

So who are these teams and who is the worst of all?  Here is a breakdown:

Not Quite Bad Enough

There are a handful of teams in the league that are bad football teams that find themselves in the middle of the pack thanks to this season of supreme awfulness.

Normally, these teams would be somewhere in the bottom quarter in the league in terms of talent-level and play.  But they have "lucked out" and instead are just bad and inconsistent football teams that will likely neither make the playoffs (except in some extreme cases) nor get a top 8 pick in next years draft. 

But don't be mistaken, these teams do stink.  Just not as bad as the teams that are about to be listed.

These teams include the entire NFC West, excluding the horrendous St. Louis Rams.  The Cardinals, Niners, and Seahawks all find themselves unable to win on a consistent basis and sometimes on the wrong end of a blowout. 

One of these teams will make the playoffs, but none of them are good.  While the Cardinals were nearly champions of the world last season, and could very well make another surprising run this season, they still only sit two games ahead of the 2-5 Seahawks for a reason.

Inconsistency has seen the Cardinals beat the Giants on the road one week and then lost to the Panthers at home the next. 

A tough schedule has taken a toll on the 3-4 Niners, but it only goes to show that if they were in any other division and didn't get to play the Cards, Hawks, and Rams (their only three victories,) they could easily find themselves with a top 5 pick.

In their two victories, the Seahawks outscored the Rams and Jaguars a combined 69-0.  In their 5 losses, the score has been 66-147.  In other words, they've been dominated.

Speaking of the Jaguars, they got two of their three victories over then-winless Tennessee and St. Louis.  They also got blown out by the not-so-good Seahawks 41-0 and gave the Titans their first win of the season yesterday. 

The Bills and Panthers also have found themselves on the wrong end of some scores (Bills 3, Browns 6) this year that have shown that they too could've perhaps been among the worst if it weren't for this phenomenon of very bad teams.

Now, for the very worst of the worst.  Breaking down the case for what makes these teams so bad and what the bright side is (if there is one.)

The Washington Redskins

Why they stink

Though they are 2-5 and have only been outscored by 27 points, the Skins have a very good argument for being amongst the leagues worst.  They didn't play a team with a win until their 7th game of the season, and the Lions, Panthers, and Chiefs all got their first W of the season against the hapless 'Skins.

Also, the Redskins offense hasn't put up more than 17 points in any game this year.  They are the only team not to drop 18 or more on offense.

The Bright Side

The 27 points they gave up to Philadelphia on Sunday was the most they've allowed all year.  In fact, their 17.6 points allowed per game is 5th best in the league, even more impressive considering how bad their offense is.  Something has to be said for level of competition, as they've played five of the seven other teams on this very list, but the Skins aren't the worst team in the league, which they have proven by beating the Bucs and Rams.  (Even if those games were very close.)

The Tennessee Titans

Why they stink

What a difference a year makes.  Though what that difference is, I'm not sure.

The Titans returned nearly the same team as the 13-3 squad from last year, minus All-Pro DT Albert Haynesworth.  But is that how you go from starting a year 10-0 to starting the next one 0-6? 

The Titans have had a tough schedule, perhaps playing five playoff teams over their first six games of the year.  Still, they have the league's 28th worst point differential and they've given up the league's most points which includes a two-week stretch in which they were outscored 90-9 by the Colts and Patriots.  They passed for -7 yards in that game against the Pats.

The Bright Side

Running back Chris Johnson might be the best player in the league.  He's averaging a ridiculous 6.9 yards per carry despite the complete absence of a passing game. 

If you have the league's best player, that can't possibly make you the worst, can it?  The Titans got an encouraging win with Vince Young at quarterback and they've got a good core of young players to build around. 

Jeff Fisher is one of the best coaches to ever work in this league and with some soft games remaining on the schedule the Titans could avoid 12 losses.

The Detroit Lions

Why They Stink

The perception seems to be that the Lions are much better than they were last season.  Which they are.  But that only tells you how bad they were in 2008, not that they are by any means good this year.

They're still being outscored by more than 13 points per game, they've given up the 2nd most points in the league, and they just lost to the Rams.  A team that had won 5 games in two and a half years. 

The Bright Side

For the first time in awhile, I do feel their is a bright side in Detroit.  They beat those Redskins, and they put the test to the Steelers in week 5 with a 28-20 loss.  The core of this offense is young and talented with Matthew Stafford (21 years old,) Calvin Johnson (24) and Kevin Smith (23) 

Things aren't going to get a whole lot easier for the Lions, and I still predict no less than 12 losses and as many as 14, but the Lions can put up enough points to show they aren't the worst team in the league.  They just need to improve that defense a lot.

The Oakland Raiders

Why They Stink

It would be very polite to say that the Raiders offense is bad. 

The truth is, it's hard-to-watch-change-the-channel bad.  They haven't scored more than 20 points in a game this season, and the 16 they put up on San Diego this week was the most they've scored since week 1.  They've failed to gain 200 yards in five of their eight games and failed to top 100 yards passing in four of those games.

It's not good when you average .25 passing touchdowns per game.  None of their high draft picks spent on offense in recent years have seemed to pan out and it's hard to know where to place blame.  It's probably easier to just say that nobody is helping anybody else, and if you listen to JaMarcus Russell give interviews that doesn't seem to be way off-base.

This is just a selfish organization.

The Bright Side

Russell, Darren McFadden, and Darrius Heyward-Bey are all very young.  It would probably do this team well to sign some vocal, veteran, selfless players to come in here and give these guys some real guidance.

Perhaps they also need to hire one of the many available experienced head coaches, like a Bill Cowher, to change the attitude in Oakland. 

They aren't the worst team because they've got talented players and they've beaten Philadelphia and Kansas City.  But they are still very, very bad.

The Kansas City Chiefs

Why They Stink

The Chiefs started out the 2007 season at an encouraging 4-3.  Since that time however, they are an astonishing 3-29. 

They've given up 400 total yards five times this season and they've failed to throw for more than 100 yards three times.  On top of that, they just deactivated their leading rusher Larry Johnson, perhaps this time for good.

As for leading receiver Dwayne Bowe, you can't really say he's going to be a part of the solution, when he's been here and put up good numbers during their entire 3-29 stretch. 

There just isn't much talent on this team.

The Bright Side

Back in 2001 the Chiefs traded for backup QB Trent Green and named him starter right away, even with a lot of doubters saying Green was only a system quarterback.  Then the offense picked up with 4 straight seasons of a top 6 ranking and the Chiefs even went 13-3 in 2003.  Perhaps lightening can strike twice with Matt Cassel. 

The Chiefs have a lot of work to do, and they could be headed to another two or three win season, but they aren't quite the league's worst.

The Cleveland Browns

Why They Stink

A large part of me wants to say that the Browns are the worst team in the league.  And boy do they have a case.

Over their last 14 regular season games the Browns have averaged 7.79 points per game.  They scored 1 touchdown in their last 6 games of '08, a defensive interception return.  Over 8 games this year, they've scored a total of five offensive touchdowns: Derek Anderson threw for two and ran for two, and Brady Quinn threw for one. 

Leading receiver Mohamad Massaquoi has a respectable 328 yards.  After him are Mike Furrey with 121 yards and backup running back Jerome Harrison with 111 yards.  The most talented player on this entire team might be kick returner Josh Cribbs. 

I literally wouldn't want anyone on the Cleveland offense on my team outside of left tackle Joe Thomas.  They've scored six or less in five games this year.  Mangini could very well be one-and-done for the Browns. 

The Bright Side:

Cribbs, Thomas, Massaquoi, Kamerion Wimbley, and games remaining against the Chiefs, Lions, and Raiders.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Why They Stink

The Bucs are the only winless team remaining in the NFL.  They had close calls against the 'Skins and Panthers, but a loss is a loss.  They are 28th in points scored, 30th in points allowed, and 29th in point differential. 

In week 3 against the Giants they had one of the worst offensive performances of all-time with 5 first downs total and 86 yards of offense. 

The best quarterback on their team is probably 21-year-old Josh Freeman, an excellent example of how some NFL teams just aren't that much different than a great college team. 

They could use upgrades at nearly every position on the field.

If you look at the remaining schedule for the Bucs, its very possible we could have 0-16 teams in back-to-back seasons.

The Bright Side

There might not be a bright side in Tampa, outside of the sun of course.  Other than they could very well end up with the top pick in the draft and take a franchise cornerstone that they've been lacking since their 2002 championship. 

I just don't think they're as bad as the next team.

The St. Louis Rams

Why They Stink

There was a stretch during 2006 when the Rams, who went 8-8 that year, lost seven of eight.  Perhaps that was a sign that shouldn't have been ignored.  They've won just six games since that season.

It's been a remarkable run of streaks since then.

They started 2007 with eight losses, then won three of four.  Then they lost their next seven regular season games, then they won two in a row.  Then they lost 17 straight before beating Detroit on Sunday.

They cant score (last in the league) and they can't stop you (29th in the league.)  They're being outscored by 18 points per game, worst in the NFL.  Last year they were outscored by 14.6 points per game, 31st in the league, and -233 points total. 

They are on pace this season for an epic mark of -288 points. 

This team isn't a shell of its former self.  It's a shell of the shell of the shell.

On top of all those bad numbers, this is a team that plays in the NFC West.  The league's worst division pretty much during that entire run of St Louis being awful from 2007 till now.  How bad could things have gotten if they played in the NFC East or the AFC South?

The Bright Side

They did beat the Lions and narrowly lost to the Redskins and Jaguars.  But on any given sunday any team can win.  It doesn't mean you're the best team.

St. Louis is still the worst team in the league.  Frankly, they should trade Steven Jackson while he's still young and still productive.  Try to get some extra draft picks and rebuild a roster that's desperately in need of help in all areas.

Because, St. Louis, you stink worse than anyone.  But don't get too disparaged, this is just a smelly year and like a room full of farters, nobody is gonna point the finger.


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