The NFL regular season is two-thirds done. In these last weeks as the playoff positioning is being established, I feel it’s important to have a good understanding of what we have learned so far. Who are all these teams, and what shot do they have to make the playoffs/survive the playoffs/win the Super Bowl/wipe that annoying smirk off Tom Brady’s dimpled, manly face?
Also, I like “The Simpsons,” seasons 1-8. Best show ever.
So today we’re doing the FBI-NFL Power Rankings, with each team receiving an enlightening quote from an early “Simpsons” episode, and then a little further explanation from yours truly. Here we go:
1. New England (11-0) – “Because sometimes the only way you can feel good about yourself is by making someone else look bad. And I’m tired of making other people feel good about themselves!” That’s the Awesomes* in a nutshell. They got tired of making other people (Colts, Colts fans) feel good about themselves and decided to be a bunch of cheating, score-running-up assholes. Go Awesomes*!
2. Indianapolis (10-2) – “That game was fixed! The Globetrotters used a ladder for pete’s sake! C’mon! He’s just holding out the ball, take it!” Because the Colts apparently have the refs in their pockets now. After yesterday’s Colts/Jaguars game, the whine emanating from Jacksonville about the officiating was shattering glass as far north as Toronto. And Boston residents are just now shutting up about the officiating in the Colts/Patriots game a month ago.
3. Dallas (11-1) – “He’s bigger than me, faster than me, stronger than me, and he already has more friends around the plant than I do.” That’s every non-Dallas Cowboy player and fan’s opinion of Tony Romo right about now. Smug Hollywood-actress-banging pretty boy.
4. Green Bay (10-2) – “Seven feet tall he was, with arms like tree trunks. His eyes were like steel, cold, hard. Had a shock of hair, red like the fires of Hell.” The legend of Brett Farve…ruh goes on. Luckily for Brett, we all took the Wranglers-blue pill that lets us forget his dozens of game-killing blind heaves into coverage over the last few years.
5. Pittsburgh (9-3) – “You gotta start acting more like me and my team, the future champions of the world. Nothing’s going to stop us now!” … “Stop everything! I don’t remember writing a check for bowling!” Pittsburgh has the misfortune of being a solid team in a year where solid teams don’t stand a chance against the mighty, glowing Awesomes*. Conventional wisdom says that if Indy doesn’t beat New England, the Super Bowl is theirs – and this time, I think the conventional wisdom is right. Sorry, Steely!
6. Tampa Bay (8-4) – “I don’t know the scientific explanation, but FIRE MADE IT GOOD.” Nobody knows how Tampa Bay suddenly and mysteriously turned into an NFC force again (which makes them mediocre overall – but neveryoumind). All we know is that the secret ingredient is… love?!? Hey, who’s been tinkering with this thing??
7. Jacksonville (8-4) – “I’m better than dirt! Well, most kinds of dirt. I mean, not that fancy store-bought dirt. That stuff’s loaded with nutrients. I… I can’t compete with that stuff.” The Jaguars and their fanbase are an endlessly entertaining media presence. They’re good but not ever good enough, and it gives them such an inferiority complex. Chalk up another 10-6 year and first round playoff exit for those plucky Jags!
8. Seattle (8-4) – “Are you man enough to test every one of your limits?” “Yes.” “And are you man enough to throw a punch should the opportunity arise?” This team survives by virtue of boxing in a conference full of hobos. But as we shall see in the playoffs, the Drederick Tatums of the world will beat their skulls to meal.
9. New York Giants (8-4) – “Keep your head down, follow through. …Okay, that didn’t work. This time, move your head and don’t follow through.” Gotta love Eli Manning, currently turning in his annual run of games where he looks like a kid in daddy’s shoes, running up and down the stairs until he cartwheels straight into a linoleum faceplant.
10. San Diego (7-5) – “The two most beautiful words in the English language! De-fault, de-fault!” San Diego also underwent a bit of a faceplant this year, going from “league’s most talented team” to “league’s biggest underachievers.” But luckily their division is loaded with underachievers like Denver and KC, so the Chargers will default into the playoffs, where somebody like New England or Indianapolis will smite them mightily.
11. Cleveland (7-5) – “That board with a nail in it may have defeated us. But the humans won’t stop there. They’ll make bigger boards and bigger nails, and soon, they will make a board with a nail so big, it will destroy them all!” The Browns just figured out that board and nail thing. They’re a lot of fun to watch, but destruction may soon follow.
12. Buffalo (6-6) – “I did not tame the legendary buffalo. It was already tame – I merely shot it.” Seems like a good team to usher in the vast, dead middle of the rankings. Buffalo is a team you expect to beat all the really bad outfits like Miami, and never remotely threaten anybody listed above them here.
13. Minnesota (6-6) – “My old man said I was wasting my time, and I’d never amount to anything. Ha ha ha ha! Heh ha ha ha heh heh! …Oh.” Kind of says it all, I think. At least their rookie running back is really good.
14. Tennessee (7-5) – “Remove the stone of shame! …Attach the stone of triumph!” This team is hard to get a handle on. They were blazing hot in the last weeks of last season, then carried that over into a strong start this season. It looked like they were on the cusp of a major turnaround. And then they just sunk back into the pack with consecutive losses and a sputtering win over Houston yesterday. The stone of triumph feels about the same as the stone of shame, doesn’t it, Titans?
15. Arizona (6-6) – “Homer, last year, we were 2 and 28.” “Look, I know it wasn’t our best season…” “Actually, it was.” Ah, Cardinals – forever the butt of jokes, finally coming into their own. Except their team is built of castoff, aging parts like Edgerrin James and Kurt Warner. Whoops.
16. Denver (5-7) – “You don’t quit your job because you don’t like it, you just go in and do it really half-assed.” What a mess this team has become. They were Jacksonville’s twin for a while – good running game, usually strong defense, good for 10 wins and an ignominious playoff defeat each year. Now they’re just… blah.
17. Carolina (5-7) – “Uh, no, they’re saying ‘Boo-urns, Boo-urns.'” Six home games so far this season, and they won one of them. At least it’s funny to see analysts pick them for a Super Bowl appearance year after year. We need to get it through our heads that the one year they made it (only to lose to New England – of course) was a fluke, and this team is not that good.
18. New Orleans (5-7) – “Geez, Homer. I never seen a guy stand up to that kind of punishment. I mean, you took a three-man pounding and didn’t even fall down.” The Saints took a metaphorical three-man pounding too, losing their city last year and then four straight games to open this season. But they’re still swinging away. Three losses in their last four games isn’t helping the cause though.
19. Detroit (6-6) – “Save me, Jeebus!” The easy joke about QB Kitna’s religious beliefs aside, Detroit is in a flaming nosedive right now – after racing out to an improbable 6-2 record, they’ve now lost four in a row, including a 42-10 blowout loss yesterday to the not-that-great Vikings. Kitna, hope you’re praying.
20. Washington (5-7) – “I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T…” This in honor of old-timer coach Joe Gibbs, who yesterday cost the team a good look at 6-6 by calling two timeouts in a row to ice the opposing team’s kicker, incurring a penalty and moving the lucky fella 15 yards closer for the game-winning kick.
21. Philadelphia (5-7) – “Son, when you participate in sporting events, it’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how drunk you get.” That goes for Philly fans, too, who have another year in hand as the Most Cursed Sports Fanbase.
22. Houston (5-7) – “This is the greatest case of false advertising I’ve seen since I sued the movie The Never Ending Story.” At one time, for reasons that history will erase, we all thought this team was good.
23. Chicago (5-7) – “The Debigulator worked! …Unshrink you? Well, that would require some sort of RE-bigulator, which is a concept so ridiculous it makes me want to laugh out loud…” Now let us transfer our mirth to the Bears and Rex Grossman, who have been collectively, seriously debigulated since their Super Bowl beatdown by the Colts last year. Just a bad team. If you don’t kick to Devin Hester, you win against the Bears.
24. Baltimore (4-7) – “Okay folks, show’s over. Nothing to see here, show’s… Oh my god! A horrible plane crash! Hey everybody, get a load of this flaming wreckage! Come on, crowd around, crowd around!” It appears that the Ravens will not compete for the division title any more; instead, in an effort to restore their sullied karma, they offered to swap records with the Browns.
25. Oakland (4-8) – “You know, boy, some of the players you see tonight may make it to the big leagues someday.” “What? Aren’t we going to see any washed-up major-leaguers?” “Sure! We get a nice mix here.” I dare you to look at their roster and not giggle helplessly. They traded Randy Moss and then ended up with… Daunte Culpepper? Really? That’s what you wanna do? And after Culpepper is a long list of players that a good team would have as backups to their better players.
26. Cincinnati (4-8 ) – “From now on, there are three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power way.” “Isn’t that just the wrong way?” “Yeah, but faster!” They have a good quarterback and a dangerous offense… and no defense, and inconsistent coaching. It should be fun to play “Guess the Bengals’ record” for the next five years or so. Will it be 6-10 or 10-6? Will they miss the playoffs or lose in the first round to a real team?
27. Kansas City (4-8) – “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together.” After introducing us to shooting stars like Priest Holmes and Dante Hall, this team has really, REALLY fallen off.
28. New York Jets (3-9) – “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” I think it just about sums up the Jets that they were actually an underdog to the winless Dolphins this week. I mean… wow. (To their credit, that apparently riled their pride and inspired them to a merciless pummelling of said Dolphins.)
29. San Francisco (3-9) – “This is the worst thing you’ve ever done.” “You say that so often that it lost its meaning.” Another year, another sack-of-crap 49ers team.
30. St. Louis (3-9) – “I’ll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missourah!” Yes, I used that quote just because it mentions the state they reside in. But after their poor showing this year, no one will be in a hurry to call themselves Rams fans.
31. Atlanta (3-9) – “No TV and no beer make Homer… something something.” “Go crazy?” “Don’t mind if I do!” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s possible – just possible – that they are missing Mike Vick.
32. Miami (0-12) – “Yeah, Moe, that team sure did suck last night. They just plain sucked! I’ve seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.” Got that right.