The NFL Is Pathetic This Season

Just give the Patriots the Lombardi Trophy already.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

The Patriots should begin to think about making their travel arrangements to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco, because it’s clear few teams are in their class.

Thirty other clubs participated in games across the NFL this week, and almost all of them were pathetic in their own special ways. Some teams missed field goals, others turned the ball over, and several played as if they don’t know the rules. The Miami Dolphins even seemed to quit right there on the field, in front of more than 80,000 folks at Wembley Stadium in London. Yes, this Parade of Ineptitude crossed the Atlantic.

Let’s start with Monday night’s tilt between the Lions and Seahawks, because that’s the most recent sorry excuse for professional football we’ve seen. Astonishingly, the most pitiful thing about that game wasn’t the blown batted ball call at the end;  it was the fact that the NFC Champion Seahawks needed it to stave off the Lions, who punted on all but two of their possessions.

With an offensive showing like that, maybe even the Dolphins could’ve stopped them, though that’s doubtful. Miami canned head coach Joe Philbin Monday after a 1-3 start, which climaxed during Sunday’s 27-14 loss to the Jets across the pond. The Jets gashed the Dolphins all day long, gaining 207 yards on the ground. Ryan Tannehill only completed 43 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions. No word on whether Tannehill demeaned the two Jets players who picked him off, which is reportedly what he does to practice squad players on his own team. Tannehill’s yearly salary is roughly $10 million more than Tom Brady’s, by the way.

The Dolphins were supposed to give the Patriots a run in the AFC East after a big offseason spending spree, but it doesn’t appear to be working out that way. The Bills seem incapable of challenging the Pats, too, considering they commit an average of 12 penalties per game. But don’t worry, Rex Ryan says it makes him proud. No wonder why he led the Jets to a 4-12 season last year.

The Jets are 3-1 so far under new head coach Todd Bowles, but Fireman Ed shouldn’t get too excited. New York was flagged for 14 penalties Sunday, and hasn’t beaten a competent team yet. That win against the Colts on Monday Night Football two weeks ago doesn’t look as good as it once did.

Speaking of the Colts, they’ve been reduced to dropping confetti after a three-point win over the lowly Jaguars, which was only possible because Jacksonville’s kicker missed two late field goal attempts. Andrew Luck, who’s thrown a league-leading seven interceptions this season, sat out Sunday with a shoulder injury. If he’s smart, he’ll sit out when the Patriots come to town October 18, too. The Pats have outscored the Colts 189-73 over their last four meetings, and that was when Luck was, you know, playing well. Oh, and there’s also that whole “F-U Tour” thing going on. Considering the Colts initiated Deflategate, they’ll probably be begging for mercy.

The team that reportedly first suspected the Patriots of deflating footballs, the Baltimore Ravens, are enjoying some comeuppance as well. The Ravens are 1-3 this season, and only beat Pittsburgh Thursday because the Steelers decided to run a high school-level offense in Ben Roethlisberger’s absence—right down to the missed field goals.

Poor special teams play was a theme in Week 4, as kickers shanked a total of 18 field goals and extra-points. Stephen Gostkowski, meanwhile, hasn’t missed a PAT in 425 attempts. That’s an NFL record.

The only team in the downtrodden AFC that seems capable of giving the Patriots a run is the undefeated Broncos, who have the best defense in the league. But Peyton Manning is currently 25th in the NFL in quarterback rating, and doesn’t appear to have the arm strength he once did. If Manning could seldom beat the Patriots when he was at his peak, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be able to do it while he’s on the back nine. (The Bengals are 4-0, too, but they haven’t won a playoff game in 25 years. They’re the champions of September and laughingstocks of January.)

So if not the Broncos, maybe Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have the best chance of taking down the Patriots this season. In fact, if the Pats were smart, they would probably start poring over the Green Bay film now in preparation of a possible Super Bowl matchup. It’s not like they’ll have to prepare for the Cowboys this week; Dallas will be without Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, its starting running back, and probably its best defensive player on Sunday, too.

The Patriots are good enough to beat teams on their own. But when they get breaks like that, they’re simply unstoppable.