Every NFL team has now played eight games, meaning the season has reached the halfway point. So this week we're presenting our NFL FanHouse Midseason Midtacular.
No matter what Roger Goodell wants you to believe, the NFL isn't all about parity. Sure, there are a lot of teams still battling for a playoff spot, but the Lions, Chiefs, Bengals and Raiders have shown that there also is a group of pathetic teams that can be counted on to make any other team feel good.
So who has been the worst? Which team put forward the worst performance of the 2008 season? There are several games that brought up memories of the 1976 Bucs. So here are the nominees:
Week One--Falcons 34, Lions 21: Sure, the final score may have the Lions falling by less than two touchdowns, but on Opening Day the Lions squashed whatever hopes their fans had in the first 15 minutes of the game. Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan, making his first NFL start, connected with Mike Jenkins on a 62-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game. On the Falcons next drive, Michael Turner ripped off a 66-yard touchdown run, ensuring that the Fire Matt Millen chants began before the end of the first quarter. Turner added a 29-yard run on the Falcons next drive to set up a third touchdown. By the end of the first quarter it was 21-0, and Millen could start slowly edging for the exit--as he was chased by an angry mob.
Week 5--Bears 34, Lions 7: Our only two-time contestant on the "they suck" list, picking a bad Lions game is like choosing which episode of Grey's Anatomy will make you beg for death--they'll all do. But the egg they laid against the Bears was worse than most. Chicago led 31-0 before the Lions converted their first third-down opportunity. Dan Orlovsky threw a pick that was returned for a touchdown and he and Jon Kitna combined to throw 39 passes for only 140 net yards (thanks in part to four sacks).
Week 7--Titans 34, Chiefs 10: Want a good sign that your team's in trouble? All three Chiefs quarterbacks attempted 10 or more passes against Tennessee. The Titans ended Brodie Croyle's season with an Albert Haynesworth sack, then chewed up and spit out Damon Huard a little while later forcing third-stringer Tyler Thigpen to end the game. But the Chiefs truly putrid performance came on defense, where by the end of the third quarter Kansas City's D had laid down, rolled over and played dead. Giving up a 66-yard touchdown run to Chris Johnson is bad, but may be somewhat excusable, but when the Chiefs watched the lumbering Lendale White run/jog for an 80-yard touchdown, it was clear that they just didn't care.
Week 9--Falcons 24, Raiders 0. This game would make Al Davis spin in his grave--if his corpse wasn't still running the team. As a Steelers fan, it was always easy to hate the Raiders--for 25 years they were the thugs who wanted to be the NFL's biggest bullies. But it's much sadder to pity them, and after watching the Raiders need nearly three quarters to record a first down (and get into positive yardage), it's hard not to just point and laugh. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spent the first half playing the same game that everyone else has done before him--find where DeAngelo Hall was on the field and pick on him. JaMarcus Russell spent another game making everyone wonder if he's more Alex Smith than Daunte Culpepper, and the Raiders running game jogged to the sideline with Darren McFadden's turf toe. The Cable Guy isn't getting it done, but then neither could Lane Kiffin, Art Shell or Norv Turner. After getting turned down by nearly every potential coach this offseason, Davis will surely pick another "winner" next year to continue the Raiders Commitment to Mediocrity.
And the craptacular winner is . . .
The Raiders' didn't just phone it in against the Falcons, they called a sit-down strike to try to get the rest of their season cancelled. If Oakland's going to play like this, they might as well go all 1987 and sign some replacement players--it would be more fun watching a beer truck driver come in and try to quarterback this team than to watch Russell throw for 31 yards, and hey, it might be more effective.