Every Tuesday morning, I wake up an hour early so that I can sit on the floor of my shower and meditate on the current state of the NFL until the water runs cold. This morning, through the power of prayer, the following rankings were revealed to me:
1. San Diego Chargers (12-2): LaDomlinson is officially the most exciting player in the NFL to watch. He always plays, he always plays well, and he consistently does things that no one else can do. On his first touchdown, he jocked a KC defender so bad, I thought I was watching Buenos Aires High School run the patented Flip 6, 3 Hole play to Johnny Rico. The Chargers would have completely dominated their opponent, but Phrivers was busy running the patented twirl and hurl offense of Uncle Rico.
2. Chicago Bears (12-2): Tommie Harris is lost to injury and Warmachine Trousersnake is just plain lost, leaving the Bears thin at defensive tackle. We’re talking Lindsay-Lohan-after-they-wrapped-production-for-Herbie thin. By the end of the third quarter, Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone were about as fresh as a pack of Parliaments in an Alabama truck stop.
3. Baltimore Ravens (11-3): Flashback to the 2003 NFL Draft and this little nugget from Kyle Boller: “Somebody bet me lunch that I couldn't throw the ball through the goal posts from the 50-yard line while on my knees. So I got down on my knees, chucked it, and let's just say he took me to lunch the next day. Ever since then, I've done it to show off my arm strength, and I never heard of anyone else doing it.” And he didn’t even have to travel back to ’82 to get the job done. Yeah, that’s two Uncle Rico references in the first three rankings. Big whoop, wanna fight about it?
4. Indianapolis Colts (11-3): Whew. I was running out of ways to say that the Colts struggle to stop the run. For Indianapolis, allowing 133 team rushing yards is like an Alpha Chi graduating from ASU with less than three strains of HPV: just a tremendous moral victory. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning went off, causing Joe Theismann to ejaculate fourteen times in a three-hour span. No analyst had achieved double-digits since Marv Albert checked into the Arlington Westin in ‘97. PeyMan finished 29/36 for 282 and 4 scores, a performance which earned him a passer rating of Holy-F’n-S, that guy is good!
5. New England Patriots (10-4): The world was shaken to its knees this week when news broke that Tom Brady and Bridget Moynahan had decided to part ways. Not really. Actually, theirs had to have been the least followed of all the major celebrity relationships. Where are the weeping throngs who mourned for Reese and Ryan? What makes Tony and Eva so great that Access Hollywood has to spend all of its unconditional love on them? If TomKat was good enough to earn courtship from the Church of Scientology, why wasn’t TomBridge? Following the breakup, sources have alleged that Brady initiated the split precisely because Moynahan’s questionable celebrity was not earning him the off-season attention he craved. I believe it goes much deeper than that. Call me crazy, but the emerald cut sapphire earrings Moynahan wore to the ESPY’s had Bill Belichick’s fingerprints all over them.
6. New Orleans Saints (9-5): Was this just a classic trap game against a weak conference opponent sandwiched between two tough contests on the road? Or is Jason Campbell the worst thing to happen to New Orleans since the Heineken looter?
7. Dallas Cowboys (9-5): Not since the Monica Lewinski scandal have the particles expelled from a man’s mouth been so newsworthy. If he’s smart, T.O. will take a page out of Pacman Jones’ book and save the face-spitting for off the field. ESPN couldn’t care less about that.
8. New York Jets (8-6): Losses this week for Cincinnati and Jacksonville have erased New York’s loss to Buffalo like a simple swipe of my hand erases a dirty picture from my niece’s Magna Doodle. With remaining games at Miami and against Oakland, the Jets have the easiest remaining schedule and the inside track for an AFC Wild Card berth.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6): The Colts needed that win more than the Bengals, and it showed in how the two teams played. If Carson & Co. can regain their form for the next two weeks at Denver and against Pittsburgh, they’re playing off. But Pittsburgh would love nothing more than to play spoiler for Cincinnati in front of the Bengal faithful. Is there such a thing as the Bengal faithful?
10. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6): If the Eagles make the playoffs, how do you deny 36-year-old Jeff Garcia the Comeback Player of the Year? The guy is a consummate team performer, as you can see from his comments following the win over the New York Giants, “The guys in that locker room have been bending over backward for me, and for each other, all season long. A couple times, I managed to put our defense in a sticky situation, but they were able to overcome that with tremendous penetration. As a team, I feel that we are really starting to come together.” Dramatization: May not have happened.
11. Seattle Seahawks (8-6): The Seahawks are falling faster than those dudes that got blown off the top of Mt. Hood. Too cold? Yeah, I suppose it was a little cold. But not as cold as it is at the top of Mt. Hood. Just ask their friend, the corpsicle in the snow cave.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6): When the Jags miss the playoffs by one game, Jack Del Rio will paper the walls of his office with little pictures that he draws depicting him in the act of slaughtering longhorns. Each picture will be given a rhyming caption, such as, “How now, Houston cow? When I machete your legs, you’ll have to bow!” The shower makes many strange predictions, each with deadly precision.
13. Denver Broncos (8-6): Nice win. Wake me up when they can beat not-the-Cardinals.
14. Kansas City Chiefs (7-7): Maybe they should get Larry Johnson a blacker coach. I mean, Herm Edwards is black and all. But he could be blacker.
15. Atlanta Falcons (7-7): The Falcons will finish 8-8, missing the playoffs in an atrocious National Football Conference, and there will only be one thing on the minds of everyone associated with the Atlanta football franchise: a Week 9 loss to Detroit. No! No, not Detroit! No! No, please! Anything but that! No!
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7): It’s difficult to believe, but the Steelers are still alive. Their vital statistics are falling fast, their kids have already scheduled a reading of the will, and the yellowish guy in the neighboring gurney is drooling over their ripe liver, but the brain is still functioning, and recovery, while unlikely, cannot yet be ruled out.
17. Tennessee Titans (7-7): The Titans lost the yardage battle by a margin of 4:1 (396-98). They were on the short end of T.O.P. by a 3:1 ratio (44:22-15:38). They managed 5 first downs to Jacksonville’s 23. They were 0 for 8 on third down. They averaged an anemic 3.2 yards per pass play. But they scored 21 defensive points and won by 7. All of this goes to show that numbers are like your brother-in-law: they lie when they have to.
18. Buffalo Bills (7-7): The Bills put a spirited thrashing on their AFC East rival Miami Dolphins, knocking them from playoff contention in the process. Bills fans began celebrating the victory in style, but quickly recognized that their team is coached by Dick Jauron, and began to beat their wives.
19. New York Giants (7-7): EelMan seems like he might be pretty bad. That was a big game for him and he responded by filling his pants. Are Giants fans allowed to speak the name Philip Rivers, or does he have the whole Lord Voldemort thing going for him?
20. Miami Dolphins (6-8): There are six 6-8 teams, but only one of them plays in the AFC, where 6 wins in 14 tries is actually somewhat of an accomplishment. That said, I could not have been happier to see my first Cleo Lemon highlights. If you ask me, the Dolphins’ future is in very good hands. Very good, citrus fresh hands.
21. Minnesota Vikings (6-8): Switching from Brad Johnson to Tarvaras Jackson may prove to be the equivalent of getting it on with your lady and moving from the brown to the pink: If a quarterback change was needed, switching from Jackson to Johnson would have been the tighter, more hygienic alternative.
22. San Francisco ***** (6-8): Alex Smith has officially joined Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Jeff Garcia in the pantheon of San Francisco quarterbacks with a penchant for coming from behind. Of course, Garcia never did lead a comeback.
23. St. Louis Rams (6-8): A win over Oakland still counts as a win. It shouldn’t, but it does.
24. Green Bay Packers (6-8): Favre reverted to the 2005 Favre, but the Lions were still the 2001-Present Lions. With two divisional games remaining, the Packers still have an outside shot at the playoffs. Similarly, with two years left to live, my grandfather still has an outside chance with Anna Nicole.
25. Carolina Panthers (6-8): This team is just horrible without the leadership of Lloyd Christmas under center. With 8:52 remaining, I saw a befuddled Steve Smith splashing around in a puddle of his own sick.
26. Washington Redskins (5-9): Ladell Betts is the best replacement for a black superstar with an interest in cross-dressing since Will Smith took over for Eddie Murphy.
27. Houston Texans (4-10): The Houston Texans did accomplish one of their goals for this game, as they managed to hold Vinnie Testaverde to negative rushing yards. Sorry, I know that’s weak, but it was the only non-I-can’t-believe-they-picked-Mario-Williams thing I could think of. Please feel free to send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-10): Punter Scott Player’s “facemask” is one of the funniest things in the world of organized sport. The single bar facemask is inherently unlikely to protect one’s face in the event that one finds oneself playing football. And in Scott Player’s case, he has managed to make the one-bar even less effective. On Player’s helmet, the bar is angled down away from his face. It really appears to be more of a throatmask than anything. His Adam’s apple is guarded, while his face remains wide open to attack. Scott Player is going to die, on the field, of a caved-in skull.
29. Cleveland Browns (4-10): Rookie linebacker Leon Williams started his first game and played well, recording 11 tackles and a forced fumble. Prior to the game, as the team huddled in the tunnel awaiting their introduction, Williams reportedly stood up, and addressed his team, stating, “Alright, chums. Let’s do this! LEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOON WIIIIIILLLLIAMS!” as he ran solo out onto the field.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-11): That was the most intriguing comeback attempt since Michael Winslow changed his name to Isaiah Washington and parlayed his Police Academy role into a dramatic turn as Dr. Preston Burke on Grey’s Anatomy.
31. Oakland Raiders (2-12): Art Shell clearly paints his eyelids to look like eyeballs so that he can sleep during the games. One of the characters did that in Ski School, and it looked exactly the same. I bet you anything that Art Shell has a whale-song CD being pumped in through his headphones. Now all I have to do is figure out how he rigged that harness system to support his considerable girth in an upright position.
32. Detroit Lions (2-12): The Matt Millen era of Detroit Lions football is the Timothy Dalton era of 007. Everyone, regardless of their loyalties, would prefer to imagine that it just never happened.