NFL Week 13: Separating Contenders from Non-Contenders

Note: Rankings are based on the team’s ability to beat top teams. For example, Indianapolis Colts have better records than Cincinnati Bengals but the Bengals have more talented roster.

Honey, You Got A Long Way To Go

32. Cleveland Browns

31. Chicago Bears

30. San Francisco 49ers

I think I am being too soft on the Browns by grouping them with other two lousy teams (Bears and 49ers) when they have more than earned the right to become a sole proprietor of the futile category. One theory why I did it: I must have caught up with empathy after spending too much time browsing through the Browns online forums, but meanwhile, here’s what I have to report about the Browns fans’ current state of mind:

  • The fans are vigorously rooting for Carlos Wentz to flame out as a NFL quarterback, because, of course, Philadelphia used the Cleveland’s pick to select Wentz in this year’s draft. How many Cleveland fans are seriously considering stabbing Wentz in the leg, just so they don’t have to live through the nightmare of watching a franchise QB blossoming under their noses? One? Two? At least 20? Nonetheless, Wentz is the Public Enemy №1.
  • They pondered/debated/cringed about the question: Which would be more ‘Browns’ if they go 0–16 or go on a couple of games winning streak and lose the 1st pick to the 49ers?
  • After watching hometown QBs toss interception after interception (Hoyer and Kessler), we can safely sign the proclamation — Running With Hometown Heroes Makes For a Great Movie, But Not a Way to Run a Pro Franchise. Right? RIGHT?! Well, the Browns fans are close to fall in love Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina. You can probably guess why — he is from northern Ohio. Oh, boy.

I think we spent too much of time on the bottom dweller, so let’s get moving…

Pretty Talented Roster, But Needs A Quarterback

29. New York Jets

Remember when Brandon Marshall went on Instagram to challenge Antonio Brown for who will have a better season, and if ABrown did, he will get Marshall’s Porsche? Here’s the latest update:

  • Marshall: 53 catches, 711 yards, 3 TD
  • ABrown: 88 catches, 1,052 yards, 11 TD

And you know what? Marshall deleted that Instagram post. Sorry Brandon, once you post anything on Internet, it’s out there forever.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

Vince Young’s NFL career was largely unsuccessful, but he did leave a good tidbit about how talented the pro football is. He said that in college, he loved to pick on those skinny freshman cornerbacks fresh off high school prom and always kept an eye on one or two game-wrecking All-Americans on the opposing team.

While in pros? The practice squad kid carrying Pro Bowl’s jockstraps around is a former All-American. In short, from top to bottom, NFL players are world class in what they do. There are no teenager freshmen, but grown men sculptured and trained by the best nutrition and strength & conditioning experts in the business.

Now, let’s say you are a wide receiver and you create, for a brief second, a foot long separation from the cornerback, you are WIDE OPEN in the NFL standards, and that window opens and closes as quick as you toss the key to the basket.

If you are a quarterback, that’s not much of time, right? Just for fun, I am going to tie your hands behind your back. That’s Blake Bortles with horrendous hitch in his throwing motion, where he drops the ball down, then brings it up as he’s throwing the ball.

When your quarterback has a hitch like that, it gives the corner an extra second to close down the window and for the safety to read and deliver bruising hits. We call football a game of inches, but sometimes we should call it a game of milliseconds.

So with a hitch like that is like playing against pimpled-faced freshman quarterback for the NFL secondary (Don’t worry, I’m done with freshman jokes).

Is Bortles’ hitch fixable? I have no idea. All I know is that it seems to get progressively worse every year, which is alarming to see considering the fact that he’s THREE YEARS into the league.

27. Los Angeles Rams

LA-area fans are new to the Rams, but they are already exposed to the Jeff Fisher Foul-Smelling Cologne scent sprayed into the LA smog, which consists six straight losing seasons. No worries, as your political campaign expert, here’s my attack ad for Fisher:

Cue a black-and-white unflattering picture of Fisher…

“4–8, 7–9, 6–10, 7–9, 7–8–1, 6–10, 8–8… With Fisher, you don’t get to become great or suck bad. Instead, you get what’s the worst… Drenched in mediocrity!

Under Fisher’s coaching tree, coaches’ combined records as a head coach: 52–84. Everything Fisher touches turns rotten!

Fisher doesn’t make Los Angeles great… he’s going to burn Hollywood into grounds with infectious mediocrity!

It’s in your hands now…. Save Hollywood and boot Fisher out of the town!”

Oh, it was just in that Fisher signed an extension through 2018. Sorry, Rams fans… I tried.

Just Not Quite Good Enough

25. Arizona Cardinals

26. Indianapolis Colts

As fans, we’re almost never more than semi-terrified of the Colts. Before the game against the Colts, we think —

“We just need to keep Andrew Luck off the field with a good ground game (25th ranked run defense), create pressures on Luck and don’t give up big plays. Even if we get behind in the game, it won’t be problem for us to pick apart their secondary (allowing an average of 104.9 QB rating — good for worst).

Wait a minute, isn’t that we think about the Colts since Peyton’s 2nd year in the NFL? However, like Indy Peyton, you can never bet against Andrew Luck.

The Underachiever

24. Carolina Panthers

What are our consensus opinion on Cam Newton? Here’s what we know so far:

  • Won BCS championship game at Auburn (if that means anything)
  • Took Carolina to Super Bowl with mediocre WR corps (no Benjamin)
  • Threw for 35 TDs and ran for 10 (7th most all-time)
  • Possesses a 6–5, 245 chiseled frame that would put any Greek god to shame
  • Can throw deep balls as good as anyone in the league
  • Occasionally sail the ball over receivers’ head (inconsistent accuracy)

Yesterday, we had a bizarre benching for not following the team’s dress code. Maybe it’s just overthinking, but is there something more to it? Is Cam pouting around a little bit too much for Rivera’s taste and Rivera wanted to send him a message, using the tie as a cover?

I mean, if Brees forgot to wear a tie, I’m willing to bet you $100 that the coach would let it slide.

But you and I have watched sports for years and this is a familiar territory, which usually doesn’t end well for head coaches because GMs/owners almost always side with their franchise players over coaches. You don’t treat your superstar QB like that, period…. Unless you have the pedigree (multiple rings), and probably only Belichick can do that and get away with it.

The Future Is Bright

23. Philadelphia Eagles

22. Tennessee Titans

When developing a newly-minted franchise QB, coaches often go down either one of two following routes — (a) Throw him in the fire and let him make all the mistakes (think Rookie Peyton) or (b) bring him up slowly with limited responsibilities by incorporating a heavy running attack (Russell Wilson/Brady).

Which works the best? It depends as every quarterback has an unique skill set and mindset. But I think the Titans are doing it right with Mariota by protecting him with the best running game in the league.

While Philadelphia is doing almost the opposite with Wentz (averaging 38 attempts a game), although they didn’t have much of a choice with the injuries to their RBs. And I like it too.

If you have to bet your house on which quarterback would be more successful — Mariota or Wentz? For me, I’d bet on Wentz. The guy looks talented as hell.

Falling Apart Before Our Eyes

21. Minnesota Vikings

Can someone please give the Vikings a quarterback? Whoever you are, you are already seven years late.

20. Cincinnati Bengals

Marvin Lewis gave us an interesting glimpse in coaches’ mindset when asked what it feels like to win a game — “It’s great for these guys. For us as coaches, it’s about the same.”

Coaches always see things that the team needs to improve, whether you win or lose games. So it makes me wonder…. are coaches the most miserable people on Earth? They will never be able to enjoy a win!

However, it’s probably same as living in New York City. It is going to abuse, frustrate, irritate you, but when you go on a vacation to another place, you think, “Man, I already can’t wait to go back home.”

The Team No One Wants To Play Against

19. San Diego Chargers

18. New Orleans Saints

You can mix both teams’ up and still get the same identity — talented quarterbacks, nonexistent defense and a knack for winning or choking in a spectacular fashion.

One interesting tidbit about the Saints — they are on pace to finish with a losing record for the fourth time in the past five years. Is a change getting closer to the shore? Brees? Sean Payton? The GM?

Losing Grip On The Playoff Spot

17. Houston Texans

Can we finally get healthy Watt and Clowney together on the field? With DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller, and the stout defense, Houston has a championship-ready roster…. only if they can get a real quarterback.

It’s really a shame that the chance is likely to go away by the time they finally can get out from 2015 Offseason Prize Osweiler’s contract.

16. Buffalo Bills

I wrote about the Buffalo Bills a couple of weeks ago and mentioned that my buddy Buffalo Tony loves his Bills season ticket experience. After the Bills’ disaster second half against the Raiders when Carr ripped them apart like he was going through a routine Saturday walkthrough, Buffalo Tony protested against going to this Sunday’s home game and added, “Tyrod Taylor needs to get the f*** out of here.”

Well, that escalated quickly.

PART 2 is coming this Friday. If you don’t want to miss it, I can send it to your inbox by typing in your email below.

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