ATLANTA - OCTOBER 03: Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 3, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Patrick Willis
Power rankings. You hate them. They’re so arbitrary and pointless, especially when they include all 32 NFL teams. All you want to know after a good week of NFL action is who the bestest team in the NFL right now, and which one is the absolute worst. The one so awful, it could blow a 21-point lead to Philly and lose on a walkoff punt return(!). That’s why we have TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE NFL, where we go to great lengths to tell you who’s the top dog in football right now, this very minute. LET’S GO!
Can you imagine if that happened? You have to realize that there is a significant portion of the Atlanta population that still adores Michael Vick and would love him even if it turned out he sold poisoned lemonade to orphans. And even with the Falcons at 12-2, those people are none too pleased that Vick was dumped by the team and allowed to become a freewheeling dynamo in Philly.
So if Philly wins that game, those Vick groupies may very well find Arthur Blank’s home and set it on fire. And wouldn’t that be fun?
THE BOTTOM: (tie) St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers Oh, that NFC West. Next week, the Rams host the 49ers and the Seahawks play at Tampa. If those teams both lose, then we’ll be guaranteed a 7-9 team making the playoffs for the first time ever.
Now, mediocre teams have gotten into the playoffs before. In fact, there’s almost always one undeserving team in any given postseason that has an 8-8 record or close to it. But it’s not the 7-9 record that will make the NFC West champ so offensive. It’s the fact that the NFC West champ’s 7-9 record will be INFLATED.
None of these teams are even remotely as good as your average 7-9 team. Houston is 5-9. Dallas is 5-9. If either of those teams go 7-9, they’ll be light years superior to the 7-9 NFC West team. The Seahawks in particular are a 4-12 team disguised in a 6-9 team’s body.
Then there’s another thing to consider about the NFC West champ: What if they WIN a playoff game?
No one expects this to happen. New Orleans will be a double-digit favorite to whoever ends up hosting them. But what if the Rams pull off a miracle and win that game? What if they make it to the NFC title game, or even the Super Bowl? Aaron Schatz’s head would explode if a 7-9 team made the Super Bowl.
What would the NFL do if that happened? It’s a scenario almost too horrible to ponder. So take a bow, NFC West. You’ve single-handedly managed to undermine an entire league’s competitive credibility. Well done.