The NFL season is at the halfway mark; this week’s general NFL commentary will be about the playoff possibilities for much of the league and which teams will navigate the second half of the season well enough to play on in January. As is customary here in Curmudgeon Central, I want to look at the other end of the spectrum. I want to examine the bottom-feeders as they stumble toward getting the first pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
The bottom quartile of the NFL consists of 8 teams that have won 2 games or fewer to date. I will focus on those teams and ignore the possibility of a total collapse by any of the 4 other teams that have won only 3 games this year.
The two-win teams:
- Cleveland Browns: Twas oh so fashionable back in July and August to portray the Browns as a Super Bowl contender – or even a participant. The Browns have physical talent; they are also hugely undisciplined. They lead the NFL in penalties by a wide margin averaging over 12 penalties per game. Last year, Baker Mayfield was electrifying; this year he is about as useful as a blown fuse. Just because there is so much raw talent there, I cannot see the Browns losing out. They will not be “on the clock” starting in January…
- NY Giants: Daniel Jones has had growing pains, but he appears to have the makings of a decent NFL QB. The loss of Saquon Barkley for several games earlier this year did not help Jones’ development at all. The Giants now have two studs on the DL – Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. That is a good place to start rebuilding the defense which has been horrid so far this year. With the Jets, Dolphins and Skins still on the Giants’ schedule, I suspect they will win at least one more game and stay out of the top draft slot for next year.
- Tampa Bay Bucs: Jameis Winston often throws for 350 yards or more in a game; he also often throws 3 INTs in a game and loses a fumble just to add some spice. Oh, and sometimes he does both in the same game! There is no consistence on offense. Same goes for the defense that started the year as one of the best – statistically – in the league but now seems not to be able to stop a runny nose. The Bucs have the Falcons twice and the Cardinals still on the schedule. The Bucs will not be in the top draft position next year.
The one-win teams:
- Atlanta Falcons: The defense has been awful, and the O-Line has not been any better. It was only two years ago that the Falcons led the Pats in the Super Bowl 28-3 with less than 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. From that moment until now, the Falcons vector heading has been ‘south”. Other than two games against the Bucs, the Falcons will be underdogs from here until the end of the season. I don’t see the Falcons winning more than 2 games this year.
- Miami Dolphins: This team is assembled to lose every week; their best players – young and old – have been traded away for draft assets. Then last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick whipped up another batch of Fitz-magic and led the Dolphins to a win over the Jets. The Dolphins have 4 games left with less-than-fearsome opponents – – Browns, Jets, Giants, Bengals – – and the players just might ruin the Front Office strategy of tanking the season to control the 2020 NFL Draft. I think the Dolphins will win again.
- NY Jets: This franchise is as attractive as prolapsed rectum. They spend money on free agents who get hurt and don’t play (CJ Mosley) or who play marginally well before they get hurt (LeVeon Bell). Sam Darnold has not blossomed under the supposed quarterback-grooming excellence that is Adam Gase. The Jets have the Giants, Skins, Bengals and Dolphins in upcoming games. Remember, this team beat the Cowboys; also remember, this team lost to the Dolphins. I think the Jets are viable contenders for the overall #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
- Washington Skins: The team is solid on the defensive line. Adrian Peterson can still run the ball well enough not to embarrass the team. Other than that, this squad is on Gilligan’s Island – – and Gilligan is the GM. Probably the most fun way to approach the 2020 Draft would be for the Skins to own the overall #1 pick because they will not draft another QB and could deal away that top pick to another team for a basket of picks. The fun would come from watching Gilligan find a way to screw that up… Why not hope for a train wreck? Let’s pull for the Skins to win the Race to the Bottom.
The winless team:
- Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are 25th in the league in total offense this year and dead last in the league in total defense. I know the team needed a change from Marvin Lewis, but this new coaching regime is not covering itself in glory to date. The remaining schedule has the team playing the Jets, the Dolphins and the Browns twice. They need to win two of them to scamper past the Skins to set up my dream draft scenario.
While I am in the mode of looking at the bad teams so far this year, let me pose a rhetorical question here. Which team has been the most disappointing team so far this year:
- The Browns with all their offseason hype – – OR – –
- The Bears who made the playoffs last year and whose offense has gone into hibernation?
You make the call …
Finally, Greg Cote had this insightful comment in the Miami Herald recently:
“World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships have begun in Azerbaijan. That’s like regular gymnastics, only more ridiculous.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………