Hi-res-185508836-reggie-wayne-of-the-indianapolis-colts-is-tended-to-by_crop_north
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

On any given Sunday, as the expression goes, there are 1,696 active players in the NFL. And if we include practice squads, the list of NFL players grows to 1,952 across all 32 teams.

On any given Sunday, at least this season, nearly 25 percent of them are hurt.

And we're not talking in season wear and tear, either. Through the first seven weeks of the season, there are 200 players—more than ten percent of the entire league—on injured reserve.

Of those 200 players, 20 are on the IR with a designation to return during the season, which leaves 180 players—an average of nearly six players per team—officially out for the year.

Fenway_crop_north

Major League Baseball must be smiling from ear to ear this postseason. The World Series, which began Wednesday night in Boston, features two of the most storied teams in the history of the game.

The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. The World Series. The two best teams in the game. It's a ratings bonanza.

But what if it's not? What if the trend of dwindling World Series ratings continues in a year where baseball could not have asked for better LCS and Fall Classic matchups?

What then?

With Bud Selig leaving the commissioner's office soon, the next two years are as perfect a time as any to re-evaluate where the game is headed into the future. This commissioner has made his legacy the expansion of the playoffs. The next could create a legacy by shortening the World Series.

Foles_crop_north

There is an old saying in football that if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any.

What if you have three? How many do you have then?

The Philadelphia Eagles have three quarterbacks—injured starter Michael Vick, backup Nick Foles, who was injured in the 17-3 loss to Dallas on Sunday, and rookie Matt Barkley—and none looks like he will be the long-term answer at quarterback for Philadelphia. 

Chip Kelly has nine games to figure this out, and which quarterbacks he plays the rest of the season will go a long way toward figuring out his thought process on the position.

Hi-res-175813039-yasiel-puig-of-the-los-angeles-dodgers-slides-in-to_crop_north
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The most overused term in sports is also this generation's most obnoxious cliche: playing the game the "right way."

Does your favorite team play the game the right way? You better hope it does, because that's how you win in today's modern sports world: by doing it the right way.

Only, for some people—including USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale—today's right way means doing what ballplayers did in the 1950s. In the 1950s, by golly, they played the game the right gosh-darn way:

No siree, the Cardinals beating the Dodgers wouldn't just be for the pride of St. Louis. The Cardinals beating those showboating, home-plate-posing, umpire-arguing, trolley-dodging muckety mucks out in La La Land would be for the good of the game—for old-time baseball, how it was meant to be played.

175889768rm00132_denver_bro_crop_north

Is there a chance in all the recent conversation about Tony Romo's unadulterated "un-clutchness" that people are overlooking something really important about the Dallas Cowboys quarterback? Might Romo actually be clutch?

Can that be possible? Can a player be both clutch and un-clutch at the same time? Is it possible, perhaps, that Romo is neither clutch nor un-clutch in any statistically significant way and the entire conversation about his clutchness is just a media gambit to get people talking? (How un-clutch of me to admit that.)

These are questions I sought to answer by more than just watching him throw for over 500 yards and roll up six billion points against Denver before throwing a horribly timed interception to get people—including myself—to talk about how he shrinks when the lights are brightest. 

Look, we all remember Romo's gaffe in his first ever playoff game against Seattle, when he muffed the snap on a hold and failed to get into the end zone for what would have been an improbable game-winning conversion. Since that day in early 2007, Romo has worn the un-clutch moniker on his head like a Starter cap. 

Screenshot2013-10-16at3

What do you get when you mix a Hall of Fame quarterback, a solid offensive line, great wide receivers, a decent running game and a mediocre-at-best defense?

If you are someone like Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, you get a Super Bowl ring.

And if you are actually Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, your Super Bowl ring comes with nine empty fingers, a mountain of regret and a media firestorm.

Irsay told Jarrett Bell of USA Today this week that, with Peyton Manning coming back to town for the first time as a member of the Denver Broncos, one ring while Peyton was in Indy just wasn't enough:

Riv_crop_north

Philip Rivers finally has his chance. For what feels like the first time in 10 seasons in the NFL, he can show people that maybe he's the best quarterback in the 2004 draft class. It can start Monday night, when the San Diego Chargers host the Indianapolis Colts.

Surely you remember his class. The 2004 NFL draft featured one of the greatest quarterback classes in the history of the game. The one where everybody else has rings and Hall of Fame-caliber resumes and Rivers has been left in the proverbial dust? Well, things can change for him this year.

Eli Manning was selected first overall by the Chargers but forced a trade to New York, in part because his dad didn't want him sitting for two years behind Drew Brees. Rivers was taken fourth by the Giants, who swapped quarterbacks and a few picks with the Chargers (and proceeded to sit two years behind Brees), while Ben Roethlisberger was taken with the 11th overall pick by Pittsburgh and immediately turned them into a Super Bowl contender.

The three quarterbacks have been linked together ever since, and while Rivers has had several Pro Bowl-caliber seasons in San Diego, his overall success hasn't come close to that of Manning or Roethlisberger. As good as Rivers has been at times, he has always stood within the immense shadow of those drafted around him. 

183956032_crop_north

Call it a hunch, but I'd bet money that in five years, the NFL calendar will be expanded to include 18 regular-season games, with each team playing at least one game overseas, and half of the league's 32 teams making the playoffs every season.

If you think I'm wrong, you need to listen more closely to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

The NFL is great, and yet Goodell seems compelled to make it greater, even at the risk of making it worse. At the league's fall meeting in Washington, D.C. this week, Goodell addressed some notable topics, spinning the NFL narrative that with a league already as great as it is, it makes sense to make it greater.

The commissioner's words, via NFL.com:

Hi-res-7592232_crop_north
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Let's play a game of "what if…"

What if you were a successful business owner in one of the five largest metropolitan areas in America? "Sounds pretty awesome!"

What if your business was so successful that over 80 years it built one of the most dedicated and loyal customer bases in your industry? "Amazing. The American Dream!"

What if, over time, the name of your company went from innocuous to offensive, leading to the point where the name became part of the national narrative for those covering your industry? "That sounds…unfortunate." 

Elivick_crop_north

After Denver's narrow escape in Dallas, Kansas City's decisive road win at Tennessee and the Raiders' late-night romp of the Chargers on Sunday, it's abundantly clear that while we still may disagree on the best team in the NFL, we sure as heck know the best division, top to bottom.

Despite a valiant effort from the Dallas Cowboys to knock the Broncos down from the ranks of the unbeaten on Sunday, it's pretty clear which division is the worst as well.

The AFC West is a combined 14-6 (.700) through five weeks of the NFL season, 12-4 (.750) when not factoring games within the division. The NFC East, by comparison, is 5-14 (.263), with a less-than-stellar mark of 2-11 (.154) outside the division. 

How bad has the NFC East been so far this season? The Eagles and Cowboys are leading the NFC East with identical records of 2-3—Philly holds the current tiebreaker with a 2-0 division record—the same record as the worst teams in three other divisions.