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The NFL in 2013: Everybody kind of sucks

The NFL has never been more popular and offenses have never been more efficient, but I also can't remember a point in my lifetime in which the league possessed so few truly great teams this late in the season. 

When the majority of Week 13 games are played on Sunday and Monday, December will have arrived. And yet almost nobody has separated themselves from the pack. We're discovering more flaws in more teams with each passing game, which probably shouldn't be surprising. 

It might have only been a matter of time before parity became a bad word in NFL circles. The league usually celebrates the even playing field which allows teams to go from good to bad and bad to good in short stretches, but now those transformations seem to be happening so quickly that nobody can string together a complete season. 

Some of the league's "best" teams are actually far from great. For instance… 

Seattle Seahawks (10-1): Russell Wilson's been good, but they've come close to stumbling far too often. They almost lost to a bad Tampa Bay team at home and barely beat the Rams, Titans and Texans earlier. The schedule gets harder now, with looming matchups against New Orleans, San Francisco and Arizona, and it looks like they'll be without two key defensive players for all three of those games. 

Denver Broncos (9-2): Peyton Manning is coming back to earth after they blew a 24-point lead to the Patriots. They also lost to the now-lowly Colts and have had some dreadful defensive performances. 

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2): They were the league's last standing perfect team, but they've since lost back-to-back and are expected to lose their third straight game Sunday against the Broncos. They feasted on a weak schedule early, but that offense just isn't explosive enough. 

New Orleans Saints (9-2): They've been solid with Sean Payton back, but there's still some doubt about that defense down the stretch. They might have been playing above their heads early this season. New Orleans lost to the Jets in Week 9 and was lucky to beat the Falcons in Week 12.

Carolina Panthers (8-3): They're the hottest team in the league, but do they really feel like a Super Bowl squad? They probably should have lost the last two weeks against New England and Miami, and their four victories before that impressive San Francisco win came against teams with a combined record of 12-31-1. 

New England Patriots (8-3): They've got a lot of momentum, although Tom Brady's still having a down year and could use more weapons. 

Beyond that, everyone is 7-4 or worse. The 7-4 Indianapolis Colts still lead the AFC South despite having been blown out in two of their last three games. They're no longer contenders. The 7-4 Arizona Cardinals haven't beaten a half-decent team on their current four-game winning streak. They can't go on a run with Carson Palmer at quarterback. The 7-4 49ers have lost two of their last three games, and Colin Kaepernick hasn't been himself all year. 

The only other four teams that are above .500 — Chicago, Detroit, Dallas and Philly — have been crushed by injuries and inconsistent play. The only reason all four are alive and well is because the NFC North and NFC East are terrible. Green Bay's been a train wreck without Aaron Rodgers, but that doesn't explain why the defense has surrendered 26 or more points in five consecutive games. 

And beyond that, you have seven teams — the Ravens, Dolphins, Jets, Steelers, Chargers, Rams and Titans — sitting at 5-6, which this year puts you right in contention. Hell, 5-6 Tennessee is actually in possession of the AFC's sixth and final playoff spot, despite that sub-.500 record. Could we seriously have a wild-card team with a losing record?

That's what happens when teams like Washington, Houston, Atlanta and the Giants have the wheels come off completely. 

The league is so unpredictable now that almost nobody looks consistently good and almost everybody looks disturbingly bad far too often. 

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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