NFL analysis: League is full of pathetic teams

MINNEAPOLIS -- After watching the Minnesota Vikings play the Browns, Lions and Rams over five weeks, one can't help but wonder how long it's been since the NFL has had this many awful teams.

MINNEAPOLIS -- After watching the Minnesota Vikings play the Browns, Lions and Rams over five weeks, one can't help but wonder how long it's been since the NFL has had this many awful teams.

There are four 0-5 teams, which is more than any other year this decade and twice as many as any year except 2005 (three). There's also four 1-4 teams, two 1-3 teams and a Redskins team (2-3) that might be as dysfunctional as any franchise in the league outside Oakland.

The Rams have lost a league-high 15 consecutive games. The Chiefs (0-5) are 2-28 in their past 30 games. The Buccaneers (0-5) have lost nine in a row. And it's officially time to forget the Titans, who are the first NFL team to start 10-0 one year and 0-5 the next.

These aren't the only dregs in a league that's built its popularity in part on the foundation of parity. In fact, one could make a case that the 1-4 Lions -- the benchmark for futility during the league's first 0-16 season a year ago -- are more competitive and simply better than eight to 10 of the other 31 teams heading into Week 6.

On the hot seat


That includes the Redskins, who helped the Lions stop a 19-game losing streak two weeks ago. Washington coach Jim Zorn already is the league's most likely lame duck leader. Of course, Dick Jauron (Bills), Norv Turner (Chargers), John Fox (Panthers), Gary Kubiak (Texans), Wade Phillips (Cowboys) and Tom (The Hit Man) Cable (Raiders) also are in danger of losing their jobs to the many attractive coaches-in-waiting candidates such as Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren and possibly Jon Gruden, among others.

Bad teams have contributed to many bad games this season. Six of 13 Sunday games in Week 5 were decided by 19 points or more. Seattle beat Jacksonville 41-0. The Vikings beat the Rams 38-10. And the Raiders proved once again they're basically a second bye on the schedule, losing 44-7 to the Giants in a game that hobbling Giants quarterback Eli Manning could afford to leave before halftime.

Even some of the close games were unwatchable. For example, in Buffalo, the Browns won 6-3 while completing two passes. Two.

Bad teams also create some bad divisions, which has led to one questionable division leader. San Francisco, which sits atop the NFC West, isn't a bad team, but how good can it be after getting whipped 45-10 by Atlanta at home!?

Throughout the league, the theme in the losing locker rooms was similar.

"It's just amazing our luck now," Rams defensive end Leonard Little said Sunday. "We don't seem to get any breaks."

That's a player mistakenly looking for a fine line on a team that's been outscored 146-34.

Miles ahead


Meanwhile, in Kansas City, Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr was telling reporters about how Kansas City's secondary would "like to have those plays back." He was referring to some busted coverages that allowed no-name receiver Miles Austin to catch 10 passes for a Cowboys-record 250 yards, including touchdowns of 59 yards and 60 yards in overtime.

If the Chiefs had the plays back, would they really do anything else but fail again?

Before he played the Chiefs, Austin had 23 catches in 41 NFL games. Then, in three hours against an awful NFL team, he rewrote a record that was set 43 years ago by Hall of Famer Bob Hayes.

On the flip side, the subject of good luck was brought up in the Vikings' locker room. The Rams's first two turnovers were unforced fumbles that led to Jared Allen's 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown and the Rams blowing a first-and-goal at the Vikings' 1-yard line.

Linebacker E.J. Henderson was one of the players who agreed that the team has experienced some good luck while starting 5-0. But he also was quick to make an astute observation.

"You know what good luck is?" he asked. "It's an opportunity and a guy being there to make a play. (Quarterback Kyle) Boller fumbled without anybody hitting him. But where was Jared Allen? He was right there to pick up the ball. None of their guys was there."

The Vikings enjoyed another easy victory, while the Rams made a case for being at the bottom of an unusually long list of awful NFL teams.

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