An Appreciation of Sidney Rice

There are rumblings that Sidney Rice will be waived very soon.  This comes as zero surprise.  There’s a $7.3 million boost to the salary cap that comes with this move.  To show you how not-surprising this move is, literally every single time I’ve ever sat down to write about the Seahawks’ impending salary cap situation for 2014 and beyond, the very first thing I’ve done every time is go to Google and type “Sidney Rice overthecap” and hit “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

Ever wondered who uses the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button?  I’m your man!

I have a difficult time bad-mouthing anything the Seahawks have ever done in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime, since they went and won us a championship and everything.  But, I have a feeling that people are going to look at the career of Sidney Rice in a Seahawks’ uniform and say, “Well, that was a move that totally backfired!”

The Seahawks signed Sidney Rice coming into the 2011 season.  We were coming off of a 7-9 campaign that resulted in a division championship, a wild playoff victory over the Saints, and a predictable playoff defeat against the Bears.  He signed for 5 years and $41 million, with a $6 million signing bonus.  In his three years with the Seahawks, Sidney Rice earned $23.5 million of his $41 million deal; not too shabby for three years’ work.

The 2010 Seahawks were led in receptions and yards by Big Mike Williams (65 for 751 and 2 TDs), followed by Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu, John Carlson, and Brandon Stokley (all ranging between 30-36 receptions and 318-494 yards).  Suffice it to say, the Seahawks could use some help in their receiving corps.  Golden Tate was on the roster, but he was still a rookie in 2010, and two years away from starting to break out.

There were plenty of holes on that Seahawks team, and thanks to an unlikely Divisional Round playoff appearance, we were rewarded with a low first round draft pick.  Not only that, but the 2011 season came on the heels of the Lockout, so the time to sign players and get them ready for the season was ridiculously short.

And, I don’t know if you remember anything about the free agents in 2011, but here’s a smattering of names that were available:  Mike Sims-Walker, Antwaan Randle-El, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Torry Holt, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Chris Chambers, Plaxico Burress, and Steve Breaston (and those are just the names I recognize).  We had our pick of a bunch of nobodies, and a bunch of those aforementioned, over-the-hill losers.

Truth be told, Sidney Rice was the pick of the litter.  Granted, they probably should have just drowned that litter and started over, but that’s neither here nor there.

An interesting name being floated around at the time was Vincent Jackson.  He was franchised by the Chargers in 2011 and was looking to get the hell out of there.  He was a disgruntled, super-talented receiver looking for greener grass, and the Seahawks had their eyes on him.  Of course, he would have cost us a buttload of draft picks on top of what would eventually be a 5-year $55 million deal (that he would go on to sign in Tampa the very next year), and at that point it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for that Seahawks team (with that many holes they needed to fill through the draft) to give up draft capital just to bring in a superstar receiver.

So, the Seahawks got Sidney Rice.  And they got Zach Miller.  And those two moves sort of paid dividends, except Rice was injured through most of his first year here and ended up only playing in 9 games.  I would argue that his full participation in 2011 wouldn’t have made much of a difference, because we still weren’t that great of a football team, so I’m willing to overlook all of that.

Rice came back in 2012 and played in all 16 games, leading the team in receptions and yards.  Granted, they weren’t the greatest numbers in the world (50 for 748 and 7 TDs), but on that team, with how much we wanted to run the ball, those were indeed #1 receiver numbers.  I’d say in 2012 we got our money’s worth.

2013 was, once again, a disappointment, as Rice was only able to play in 8 games before tearing his ACL and losing out on our Super Bowl run.  Even in those 8 games, it’s hard to say he was living up to what was expected, as his numbers were WAY down compared to 2012.  That’s essentially while he was playing with the same receiving corps (Harvin and Rice never once played a down together at the same time last season).

If I’m sitting here objectively, looking at his totals over the last three seasons (97 receptions, 1,463 yards, 12 TDs, 33 of a possible 48 regular season games played), then no, there’s no way that type of production was worth $23.5 million.  97/1,463/12 are the type of numbers you’d expect out of a legitimate #1 receiver in a single season, not spread out over three.  And make no mistake, Sidney Rice was getting paid #1 receiver money.

But, here’s the thing:  what else were the Seahawks supposed to do?  Sidney Rice was the best-available option in a free agent class that could best be described as “slim pickin’s”.  We needed offensive firepower, because the previous regime left this team bereft.  And yes, Sidney Rice had injury concerns coming in (which turned out to be valid, given the number of games he missed with the Seahawks), but you have to figure that’s the cost of doing business.

Sidney Rice was never a bona fide #1 receiver for the Seahawks, but he was incredibly valuable in that 2012 run.  Likewise, once we lost him in 2013, our offense suffered tremendously.  Had the Seahawks lost in the playoffs, instead of all this joy in my heart, I would have written endlessly about how losing Sidney Rice was an underrated aspect in this past season falling apart.  Sidney Rice might have never been a true #1, but he made some catches that left my jaw on the floor.  And without him, I don’t think we would have seen near the progress in this offense from Russell Wilson’s first snaps onward.

It all boils down to football being a business.  Some fans feel a little jaded because this team paid all this money to a guy who did relatively little, but as I said before, it’s the price of doing business.  When you’re a bad team looking for a quick fix via free agency, that’s the price you have to pay to bring in talent.  Conversely, some players get upset because teams never honor their contracts.  The price of doing business:  if you’re over-compensated, you’re going to get the ax when your contract becomes too prohibitive.  Had Sidney Rice lived up to his #1 billing, then paying him a little under $20 million for the next two years would have been a relative bargain (or, at least commensurate to what he’s capable of producing).  Since he didn’t live up to his end, he’s gone.  So it goes.

Sidney Rice won’t go down as one of the greatest Seahawks wide receivers of all time, but that’s okay, because in the end we got our championship.  While he didn’t catch any game-winning touchdowns down the stretch, he was still a part of this team.  He was a part of turning around a franchise, from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs.  For that, he’ll always be remembered fondly, at least in my book.

And, with this cap savings, you could say Sidney Rice is the gift that keeps on giving.  With this $7.3 million (not to mention the base salary of $9 million we won’t have to pay next year), we’ll be able to re-sign Michael Bennett.  Or extend Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman.  His sacrifice enables our greater good.  So, don’t kick the man on his way out of town.  Thank him for his hard work and wish him well in his next endeavor.  There’s no sense in being resentful when your team is getting fitted for championship rings as we speak.

Always Never A Doubt In My Mind

At one point in this game, Russell Wilson had scrambled his way into an opening-play fumble (recovered by the 49ers), LaMichael James had muffed a punt (recovered by the 49ers), and Colin Kaepernick had the ball stripped on a sack (recovered by a 49ers lineman, ran for 6 yards).  That final piece of lunacy saved a touchdown drive and gave the 49ers a 17-10 lead, and it left Seahawks fans wondering if the football gods were EVER going to smile down upon us.

Ask anyone who knows anything, and they’ll tell you that going 0 for 3 on fumble recoveries is pretty fucking rare.  A fumble is generally a 50/50 proposition, and if the Seahawks went down because of this stat, you’d call it one of the unluckiest breaks in football.  Of course, one game is pretty much as small of a sample size as you could get; nevertheless, I couldn’t help but believe that this streak couldn’t continue FOREVER.  There would HAVE to be fumbles forthcoming that would bounce our way.

Sure enough, from that point in the third quarter where the 49ers went back up by a touchdown, the Seahawks caught all the breaks.  Colin Kaepernick was strip-sacked by Avril (recovered by Michael Bennett).  A fumble by Jermaine Kearse at the goalline that was recovered by Marshawn Lynch at the 1.  And, on the very next play, a Russell Wilson/Marshawn Lynch fumbled exchange on 4th & Goal from the 1 yard line (recovered by Michael Robinson, which doesn’t sound so great, because we failed to score the touchdown or even keep the 49ers pinned back inside the one yard line, but if you look at it again, you’ll see a ton of 49ers players around that football, with a clear opportunity to return that thing for a 99-yard touchdown).  Kaepernick was intercepted by Kam (which wasn’t a lucky break, per se, but it was a turnover).  Another Russell Wilson fumble on a busted play (recovered by Wilson, resulting in an offensive pass interference penalty).  And finally, the game-ending interception on the tip from Sherman to Malcolm Smith.

To be honest with you, I don’t know how to feel about a game that hinged so deeply upon luck.  There’s the obvious turnover issues I described above, there were referee issues (some iffy penalties, some iffier non-calls, and that fumble recovery that couldn’t be reviewed, which ended up not really mattering anyway), there were injury issues (I don’t know if we’ll ever know the impact of the 49ers losing their best offensive guard and their best linebacker in Iupati and Bowman respectively), and there was the play of the game.

To set it up, the Seahawks pulled to within 17-13 on a Hauschka field goal.  We forced a 3 & out thanks to the refs missing what probably should have been roughing the punter.  We got the ball at our own 38 yard line, and we drove to the San Francisco 34 yard line, with 2nd down and 6 coming up.  Russell Wilson was called for a clear Intentional Grounding, which put us back to the 50 yard line, for a 3rd down and 22 to go.  This is the nightmare scenario, but to our credit, we called something reasonable.  A nice little pass to Zach Miller out on the flat, who rumbled for 15 yards to the San Francisco 35 yard line.  At this point, it was 4th and 7.  Maybe within the range of Hauschka, but not really something you feel comfortable about in this situation.  It was the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the Seahawks very nearly decided to kick it, but ultimately burned a timeout.  Had we lost this game because we were short on timeouts, I’m sure everyone would have pointed to this situation.  As it stood, that timeout was probably the smartest decision we made all game.

We put the offense back out on the field to pick up the seven yards.  Russell Wilson nailed the hard count, which got the 49ers to go offsides.  To their credit, the refs didn’t whistle the play dead (for the record, in a similiar situation this season, the refs blew the play dead and cost us an opportunity to make a huge play).  All the receivers broke off of their intended routes and ran for the endzone.  Wilson made the perfect throw, and Jermaine Kearse came down with an amazing catch.

How does luck come into it?  Well, if that throw is offline, or if the 49ers defender makes a better play on the ball, and it falls incomplete, then we’re looking at 4th and 2 from the 30 yard line.  At that point, I don’t think there’s any question that the Seahawks go for the field goal, to pull within 17-16.  And who KNOWS how the game turns from there!  What if Hauschka misses the 47 yarder?  Of course, he would go on later to make a 47 yarder, but Hauschka was on record – after the game – as saying that he really didn’t want to kick that field goal when it was going to be a 52 yarder.  What if, in his shaken state, Hauschka pulls that one?  Then, the 49ers would get great field position, and most importantly, we’d get no points.  Even if we assume he would make it, that still would have left us down a point with a quarter left to go.  That touchdown was the difference between the 49ers ultimately needing a touchdown to win the game vs. needing a field goal to win the game.  If that’s the case, I don’t think there’s any doubt we’re sitting here today lamenting the fact that the 49ers are playing for the championship.

Just a wild, crazy game.  Here are some other observations:

Russell Wilson was REALLY driving me crazy in that first half.  I understand that you’ve got to take the good with the bad with a guy like Wilson, and it really COULD be worse.  I’m not sitting here wishing that we had some gunslinger like Tony Romo who would ultimately cost us more in big games than he’d help us.  But, it really looked like Wilson was playing tentative yesterday.  Holding the ball too long, looking to scramble out of the pocket (which couldn’t have been worse, because more often than not – with our linemen pushing their ends outside and around the pocket in a circle – he was just running himself INTO pressure) when he should have just stepped up and made a throw (especially when he’s got Golden Tate streaking downfield with single-coverage).

Of course, Wilson ended up having enough in him to lead us to victory, so it’s not like I can complain too hard.  And, if he leads us to a Super Bowl victory, it’s going to be hard for me to EVER badmouth the man again.

Good God, do we need someone better to spy Colin Kaepernick on the run!  It struck me that Bruce Irvin probably would have been perfect, but it didn’t look like we used him all that much in this game.  He seriously whiffed on one play, where he bit on the play fake and let Kaep run around him for a huge gain; but, if Irvin’s sole job was to simply follow the quarterback wherever he went, I think Irvin’s speed could have neutralized him.

Marshawn Lynch had another huge game, going for 109 yards on the ground and a touchdown.  This was the first time anyone had run for over 100 yards on the 49ers this year, and for a minute it looked like one of the rare times that the Seahawks would lose a game where Lynch went over 100 yards.  That fumble at the goalline wasn’t even his fault, so I’m glad they didn’t put that on him in the scorebook.

Doug Baldwin, as always, was a revelation.  One of these days, he’s going to get the respect he deserves, but for now, let the doubters keep doubting him.  He’ll just keep making them look stupid.  With 6 catches for 106 yards, it looked like he was going to be the MVP of the game.  He still might be, especially when you consider his 69 yard kickoff return ultimately led to a field goal (and probably should have been a touchdown drive, if our offense wasn’t still sputtering so frustratingly.

Finally, what can you say about a defense that’s the best in the game.  From the first play, where we were placed at a disadvantage thanks to the Wilson fumble, this defense showed up and put in their usual outstanding work.  Bobby Wagner led all tacklers with 15, and Kam Chancellor wasn’t far behind with 11.  Kam also came down with that interception (on just an AWFUL pass by Kaepernick) and had another two passes defended.  Our D-Line wasn’t able to get as much pressure as you’d like, but I thought they played a lot smarter in the second half, not letting Kaepernick just immediately have the edge to run.  Even though we were playing so safe, Bennett and Avril were still able to wreak some havoc.  And the run defense?  Aside from Kaepernick (who got most of his rushing yards on scrambles when a pass play broke down), this part of their game was completely shut down.  Frank Gore finally started looking his age, running for 14 yards on 11 attempts.

I don’t really know what the next-day narrative is going to be today (aside from Everything Richard Sherman, which I will write about tomorrow), but I have the feeling that Colin Kaepernick is going to get a lot of love from the national media.  This is a mistake.

Yes, it’s quite the breathtaking thing to see Colin Kaepernick with the football, running in the open field.  Dodging tacklers, graceful as a gazelle, he’s a weapon unlike any other in the game of football.  If he didn’t have all that, you know what he’d be?  Without the ability to run for dozens upon dozens of yards, Colin Kaepernick would be Jeff George:  a rocket arm attached to a mental midget.

When he’s on, he’s something to behold.  That touchdown pass to Boldin in the back of the endzone from 26 yards out was as good as it gets.  Nevertheless, it was a STUPID decision and the ball was very nearly tipped or picked off entirely.  Then, there’s that aforementioned interception to Kam.  He was standing RIGHT THERE the whole time!  There was no deception out of Kam to bait him; Kaepernick saw him the whole time and still threw the damn pass right to him!  He said he thought he could get it over Kam … but Kam’s 6’3!  There were his two fumbles, which resulted from him trying to do too much with a play (which I can’t really fault him for, unless I feel like jumping down Wilson’s throat every time he does something annoying like that).  And, of course, the game-clinching interception when he challenged Richard Sherman with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.

He said he’d take Michael Crabtree in a 1-on-1 matchup with anyone in the league.  He said he wouldn’t change a thing about his decision-making process.  Did he say this because he’s stupid?  Because he’s arrogant?  Because of his blind hatred of the Seahawks and especially Richard Sherman?  Any way you slice it, it’s foolish thinking from a foolish individual.  Maybe if Crabtree magically transformed into Randy Moss in his prime, I could see it.  But, Crabtree isn’t anything special.  I’d take Doug Baldwin over him any day.  Crabtree is only considered an “elite” receiver by the national media because he was drafted in the first round, plain and simple.  There’s nothing about his game that’s elite.  He’s okay.  Off the top of my head, I can think of 25 wide receivers who are better than him (Baldwin, Tate, Fitzgerald, Dez, Marshall, Jeffery, Megatron, Jordy Nelson, Cobb, Demaryius Thomas, Decker, Welker, Hilton, Garcon, Green, Brown, Cruz, Desean Jackson, Andre Johnson, Keenan Allen, Josh Gordon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson, and Jimmy Graham – who is actually a wide receiver, in spite of what they try to label him as in New Orleans).

The point is, he’s not better than Richard Sherman.  And if Kaepernick is too stupid or too stubborn to realize that, then maybe Kaepernick isn’t the guy who’s going to lead you to a championship.  His talent may be good enough to get him past most teams in the league, but his hubris is ultimately going to be his undoing against the best teams in the league.  He thinks that just because he has a strong arm, he can make every throw, and that’s just not the case.  And, if that throw’s not there, no worries, he can just run for any first down he wants.  Except, here’s the thing:  when his team is down and he’s got to mount a comeback, the same shit he gets praised for is what’s going to ultimately cost his team ballgames.

In the end, this was a game about two quarterbacks.  One a little too cautious, one a little too reckless.  Somewhere in the middle, you have the perfect NFL player.  But, ultimately, it’s easier for a cautious quarterback to take a few more chances than it is for a reckless player to settle for the sensible decision.  That’s why the Seahawks won this football game.  That’s why the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl and the 49ers are licking their wounds.

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings, Vol. 6

I don’t have a lot of hard data to back up what I’m about to say, but if there’s a website out there that can help you break this kind of thing down, I’d be all ears (football is sickeningly behind the times compared to baseball when it comes to hard data).  Anyway, this might be more of a personal feeling than actual fact, but have you noticed that this team (the Seahawks, that is) runs the ball MUCH better when they have a fullback in the backfield?

That might be an obvious statement, but if it was so obvious, why don’t you see it more often?  When you run up the middle, who is the most likely to tackle the guy with the ball?  Either linebackers or interior linemen.  So, if your plan is to run up the middle, why would you go double tight end and neglect the fullback?  You want a guy plowing through the hole (or creating said hole by sealing off a lineman) and picking up the first guy he sees so the running back can get that much further.

What I want to know is:  how many yards does Beastmode average when he’s got Michael Robinson in the backfield vs. when he’s running out of a single-back set?

Getting a little off-topic (but not really), I also want to know Beastmode’s average when running behind Okung & Carpenter vs. Giacomini & McQuistan.  Aren’t Okung and Carpenter your two biggest, most physical run blockers?  Why aren’t we running that way more often?  It seems to me we run 2 to 1 to the right side as opposed to the left and I just don’t get it.

Suffice it to say, I’m expecting some quality rushing numbers this weekend.  I’d like to see those numbers coming out of the I-set, and going to the left side of the line.  But, then again, what do I know?

The rankings:

  1. Atlanta Falcons (6-0):  One of about a million BYEs this past weekend.  But, they didn’t lose, and that’s all that matters.  Of course, I think that string ends this week in Philly.  We’ll see, I could be way off base, but I can’t help thinking what I think.  (Last Week:  1)
  2. Chicago Bears (5-1):  Against teams with winning records this year, the Bears are 0-1.  That having been said, this defense is nasty and they strike me as a very complete football team.  And you don’t want to play this team when it starts snowing in Chicago, trust.  (Last Week:  3)
  3. Houston Texans (6-1):  Chicago’s next difficult game is in week 10, hosting these Texans.  We’ll have our answer once and for all to the question of:  Who is better in 2012, Chicago or Houston?  No, no we won’t, but that’ll still be a fun game to watch.  (Last Week:  4)
  4. New York Giants (5-2):  That’s a nice win against a good Washington offense.  Of course, if they blow it by going into Big D and getting swept by the Cowboys in the season series, what will it be for?  (Last Week:  5)
  5. San Francisco 49ers (5-2):  I’m not going to sit here after week 7 and say the 49ers have locked up the NFC West race.  I will say that it’s officially a 2-team race now between them and the Seahawks.  I don’t think the Cards have the guns to sustain a full season (especially on offense), and the Rams are another quarterback and probably 3 or 4 more seasons away from contending.  However, considering the 49ers will have at least a tie in the head-to-head matchup, it’s going to take quite the fall off the cliff.  In the standings, we’re 1 game back, but in reality we’re 2 games back.  Not only do we have to beat them in Week 16, but we’re probably going to need them to lose one of these other tough games they play (@ New England, vs. Chicago, @ New Orleans).  Like I said, they don’t have it locked up, but they’re well on their way in the pole position.  (Last Week:  6)
  6. Baltimore Ravens (5-2):  In spite of their gaudy record, you could easily say this team hasn’t looked right since Week 1.  They barely eeked out wins against the Pats, Browns, Chiefs, and Cowboys; and they’ve now lost to the Eagles and got killed by the Texans.  Same ol’ Ravens?  Pad their record against crap and choke when it counts?  Yeah, I’d bet on that.  (Last Week:  2)
  7. Green Bay Packers (4-3):  What a difference a couple of road wins against the Texans and Rams make!  All of a sudden, everyone is handing the division back to the Packers, forgetting how miserable they looked against the Seahawks, Saints and Colts!  This is an inconsistent team, my friends!  Don’t get sucked back in; they will lose to the Bears in week 15 and they’ll be lucky to grab one of the Wild Cards.  (Last Week:  9)
  8. Minnesota Vikings (5-2):  Still finding it hard to peg this team?  Join the club!  They did themselves and the Seahawks a lot of favors by beating the Cards.  Now, all they have to do is take down the Bucs on Thursday and I’d feel confident marking them down as playoff bound.  (Last Week:  10)
  9. Seattle Seahawks (4-3):  That was a tough loss to swallow.  Just remember, this isn’t a Super Bowl contender.  Not this year.  Keep your focus on just making the playoffs and you’ll sleep a lot better at night.  The Seahawks can still win the next three games and put themselves in a comfortable position to do just that.  This game against Detoit is key.  Got to start padding that conference record, conisdering our divisional record is utter shit.  A win puts us at 4-3 in conference.  It’s not ideal, but four of our remaining five conference games are at home (including three against our division).  8-4 in the NFC, plus 3-3 in the division, plus 3-1 against the AFC JUST might be enough to do it (of course, 4-0 against the AFC is still really likely, but I would never guarantee that; not this year).  (Last Week:  7)
  10. New England Patriots (4-3):  This defense of theirs is a SERIOUS problem.  I thought Belichick was supposed to be some kind of defensive guru … (Last Week:  8)
  11. Arizona Cardinals (4-3):  4-0 turns into 4-3 with games against San Francisco and Green Bay the next two weeks.  Remember when I said this team could very well be 7-0 going into this week’s matchup?  Ahh, to be young and naive again … (Last Week:  11)
  12. Denver Broncos (3-3):  Why does it feel like every game they play is life or death?  When does Manning get to enjoy a week off against the Chiefs defense already?  (Last Week:  12)
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3):  A very Pittsburghy win over the Bengals this past weekend.  Doing just enough to bore us to death on national television.  I guess Steelers fans wouldn’t have it any other way, but Steelers fans are idiots and will watch anything.  (Last Week:  13)
  14. St. Louis Rams (3-4):  This is a bad team, but God damn will they play you tough!  I still contend they need a new quarterback and were idiots to let RGIII go.  I guarantee 90% of Rams fans would take RGIII right now over Sam Bradford, and the other 10% are racists.  (Last Week:  14)
  15. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3):  So, fired your defensive coordinator, huh?  Yeah, Andy Reid is toast at season’s end.  Big, fat, thick-headed toast.  Bench Vick already!  BVA motherfuckers!!!  (Last Week:  15)
  16. Miami Dolphins (3-3):  The Dolphins win when they keep their opponents from scoring more than 2 touchdowns.  This week’s opponent is the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.  The Jets are terrible at scoring.  Ergo, bank on a Dolphins victory.  (Last Week:  18)
  17. Dallas Cowboys (3-3):  Well, Dallas, if you want to get out of this hole you’ve dug for yourselves, beating the Giants at home is a GREAT first step.  A win here puts you at 2-0 in the division, with two wins over those very Giants.  That’s a head-to-head tiebreaker you can take to the BANK!  (Last Week:  16)
  18. Washington Redskins (3-4):  Crazy matchup this week.  I don’t know why THIS isn’t an NBC game; this is exactly the kind of thing I would watch with gusto!  When do you ever see the Redskins play the Steelers?  Once every four years, by my logic, but still.  The old vs. the young, a couple of gunslingin’ quarterbacks, a couple of so-so defenses.  Bet the over and get the FUCK out of the way of this game!  I wish I had NFL Sunday Ticket for this reason EXACTLY.  (Last Week:  17)
  19. San Diego Chargers (3-3):  The Chargers beat the shitty teams and lose to the halfway competent teams.  Sucks to be a Chargers fan, then, considering the next three contests are very winable.  You’ll get sucked right back into Norv and Rivers all over again, only to have your hearts ripped out later on.  (Last Week:  20)
  20. Tennessee Titans (3-4):  Yeah, you could point to Hasselbeck and say, “There’s a stabilizing force righting the sinking ship.”  But, their schedule was saddled with some really difficult teams to start the season for Jake Locker (New England, Houston, Minnesota, even San Diego), and all Hasselbeck has had to contend with are the aging Steelers and the hapless Bills.  Let’s see how this team looks in two weeks when they have to go up against the Bears.  (Last Week:  25)
  21. Indianapolis Colts (3-3):  Yeah, you beat the Browns, BFD.  (Last Week:  26)
  22. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4):  God damn, Cincy.  Just, God damn.  (Last Week:  19)
  23. New Orleans (2-4):  This team has NOT got a defense.  That having been said, they were never going to go 0-16.  Of course, just because they’re on a 2-game winning streak doesn’t mean they’re going to rip off a huge comeback.  They’ll lose to the Broncos this week and they’ll end the season with 7 wins.  Book it.  (Last Week:  28)
  24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4):  I dunno.  They’ve got a good, clutch quarterback.  They’ve got a solid set of running backs.  They’ve got a bona fide number one receiver in Vincent Jackson.  And, at least I THOUGHT they had a young, up-and-coming defense.  But, maybe I’m just off-base and this team is all-around terrible.  (Last Week:  22)
  25. Detroit Lions (2-4):  If anyone was holding off, just go ahead and stick your fork in the Lions.  This team needs to spend its next five drafts entirely on the defensive side of the ball, with a little O-line mixed in.  Oh, and maybe find a head coach who isn’t such an emotional hot-head.  You know hot-heads can’t get shit accomplished!  They just stomp around like a racecar in the fuckin’ red.  (Last Week:  21)
  26. New York Jets (3-4):  Oh, you took the Patriots to overtime and scored 26 points on them?  Where’s my Condescending Wonka meme?  I had it around here somewhere.  (Last Week:  23)
  27. Buffalo Bills (3-4):   Dead air.  DEAD AIR!!!  (Last Week:  24)
  28. Oakland Raiders (2-4):  They go to the Chiefs, then come back home to face the Bucs.  These next two weeks might be the happiest two weeks of the whole year for the city of Oakland.  If that didn’t depress the shit out of you, may I remind you these people live in OAKLAND???  (Last Week:  30)
  29. Carolina Panthers (1-5):  This team might end up 2-14.  Yeah, I’d say firing the GM was warranted.  Anyone can make the obvious draft pick in Cam Newton, but anyone can also draft the fucking schlubs they drafted around him.  (Last Week:  27)
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5):  I know Chad Henne sucks, but he’s better than Gabbert!  I don’t know if he’s starting this week, but they could do a lot worse (you see what you’re doing to me, Jacksonville?  You’re forcing me to defend Chad Henne!  God, fuck you already!)  (Last Week:  31)
  31. Cleveland Browns (16):  Talk about defending someone who sucks, this Weeden guy isn’t the worst thing since unsliced bread!  (Last Week:  29)
  32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5):  They’re choosing to start Brady Quinn.  They have Romeo Crennel as their head coach and they’re CHOOSING to start Brady Quinn.  I rest my case, Your Honor.  (Last Week:  32)