Avert your eyes. The NFL's annual International Series returns Sunday to a screen near you.
There have been 14 games in London since the NFL began this series in 2007. A few have been competitive. They occasionally have involved teams that went on to winning records and/or playoff berths. For the most part, however, the product the NFL has sent to its ravenous London fan base has hovered in an otherworld that is more appealing than, say, Week 4 of the preseason but something short of, well, the NFL RedZone channel.
Londoners have turned out at an average of 83,061 fans even though 11 of the 14 games have involved at least one of the following teams: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders. They are an unholy mess that all rank in the bottom 20 percent of NFL winning percentage since the start of the 2007 season. The 28 teams involved in London games have a combined record of 200-246-2 in those seasons. Only eight went on to finish the season above .500.
(By math, if nothing else, an expansion of the annual series would bring hope for a greater variety of teams.)
Half of the games have been decided by one score, but the other half were blowouts to such an extent that the average final has been 32-17. Two coaches and one general manager have been fired within hours of a loss in London. It's a story so sordid that we had to make up new classifications in our standard presentation to tell it.
You've heard of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"? As we settle in for Sunday's matchup of the 0-3 Jaguars and the 1-2 Indianapolis Colts, behold: The Not Awful, the Brutal and Avert Your Eyes.
Read at your peril: Following the usual pattern for this series, the Saints had a 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Chargers got back into it with 10 quick points before time ran out. The Chargers, of course, didn't help themselves with two turnovers and 14 penalties.
Read at your peril: The 49ers led 24-10 with 3 minutes, 47 seconds remaining before the Broncos mounted a comeback. The 49ers held on with Troy Smith -- bet you forgot he played for them! -- at quarterback. The teams combined for an uninspiring seven third-down conversions in 23 attempts.
Detroit Lions 22, Atlanta Falcons 21
Read at your peril: The Falcons led 21-0 in the second quarter and still managed to squander it. In true International Series fashion, Lions place-kicker Matt Prater missed his first chance at a 43-yard game-winning field goal. But the kick did not count because the Lions were called for delay of game. Of course they were. So Prater lined up and drilled a 48-yard attempt to win it. Of course he did.
New York Giants 13, Miami Dolphins 10
Read at your peril: The Dolphins were 0-7 entering this game, an unfortunate reintroduction to American football for Londoners. The Dolphins were 0-8 when they left, even after putting up more of a fight than expected, and finished the year 1-15. Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw 22 passes and completed eight, for a lovely total of 59 yards in rainy conditions. (The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl, stunning the Patriots.)
Chicago Bears 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18
Read at your peril: Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman threw four interceptions in a game the Bears led throughout. That made Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's two interceptions seem mild in comparison.
Jacksonville Jaguars 34, Buffalo Bills 31
Read at your peril: The Jaguars led this game 27-3 in the second quarter before the Bills stormed back with an 18-point fourth quarter. But the drama was washed out by a four-turnover, 10-penalty showing by the Bills. Quarterback EJ Manuel threw two interceptions and fumbled twice, losing one -- and not surprisingly, he hasn't started a game since.
Avert your eyes
New England Patriots 35, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7
Read at your peril: The Bucs flew across the ocean with an 0-6 record and with Josh Johnson as their starting quarterback. They played about as well as you might have expected. Johnson threw 26 passes, completing nine to his teammates and another three to the Patriots. It was 21-0 early in the second quarter, and those who stayed to the end were feted to a combined five turnovers and 16 penalties.
New England Patriots 45, St. Louis Rams 7
Read at your peril: The Rams opened the scoring with a touchdown, but the Patriots edged them by rattling off 45 unanswered points. For the Rams, the loss was their third in a five-game winless streak.
San Francisco 49ers 42, Jacksonville Jaguars 10
Read at your peril: The 49ers scored more than a point a minute until midway through the second quarter, when they led 28-0. Enough said.
Miami Dolphins 38, Oakland Raiders 14
Read at your peril: The Raiders were winless at the time, committed four turnovers, and finished the year 3-13. The Dolphins were impressive on this day but finished the year 8-8.
Kansas City Chiefs 45, Detroit Lions 10
Read at your peril: The Lions were 1-6 entering this game and never competed. The Chiefs led 24-3 at halftime, sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford six times, and finished with 206 rushing yards even though starter Jamaal Charles was sidelined.