There are plenty of NFL power rankings every week. But rarely do we get to see NFL punch line rankings, rating each team for the comedy they provide us.
In the wake of the winless Jacksonville Jaguars heroically covering a 27-point spread in Denver against Peyton Manning and the undefeated Broncos, it's time for the first NFL Punch Line Rankings of the 2013 NFL season.
NFL Punch Line Rankings
1. New York Giants: No one is going to feel bad about laughing at the Giants. They've won two recent Super Bowls, they play in the biggest market and they have a perpetually praised quarterback. Except this year they're terrible, he's terrible and we get to see the hilarious Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin faces these facts produce. Lot of punch lines here. Giant punch lines.
2. Washington: When an entire offseason is filled with the media and RG III building up the legend of RG III, there are going to be jokes when 1-4 happens. Plus, there are the obvious bonus laughs for Mike Shanahan's face and seeing continued football misfortune come to Dan Snyder.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Last week the Jaguars probably would have held the No. 1 spot in the Punch Line Rankings and they could still get back there this season, but after a week of everyone piling on them for their impending destruction at the hands of the Broncos, we're now into depressing territory. Making fun of the Jaguars at this point is just kind of mean. I mean, a 16-point loss is seen as a positive. It's seen as their best game of the season. So depressing.
4. Oakland Raiders: They're the Raiders. Always.
5. Buffalo Bills: They're the Bills. Forever the Bills.
6. Cleveland Browns: They're the Browns. And nothing can change that. (The 4, 5 and 6 spots here are pretty much interchangeable.)
7. New York Jets: It's an upset they're this low. The Jets started the season as a strong bet to keep the No. 1 spot all season. Rex Ryan getting them down to No. 7 in the Punch Line Rankings should earn him coach of the year consideration.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Who doesn't get a chuckle from a clown car? The Vikings have a clown car at quarterback. Next out of the car to perform for your delight: Josh Freeman!
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Being 0-5 might seem laughable, but it's pretty hard to laugh at MRSA. Oh, wait. Scratch that.
10. Houston Texans: The Texans set an NFL record Sunday with their fifth consecutive game throwing a pick-six. That's laughable. But some fans had to ruin it by cheering Matt Schaub's injury. There's nothing funny about that. If Texans fans can start behaving themselves, this team has the potential to place higher in the Punch Line Rankings.
11. Philadelphia Eagles: It's easy to laugh at the Eagles for how they REVOLUTIONIZED offense in the NFL in the first half of a Week 1 game against the mighty Washington defense. It's even easier to laugh at them because they play in the NFC East and are in first place at 3-3.
12. Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo, Jerry Jones and the NFC East. That's the punch line. You can write the lead-in to the joke.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Head coach Bruce Arians said this in the offseason, after acquiring Carson Palmer: "I think our quarterback room is as strong as any in the National Football League." AHHHHHHHHHHHHahahahahahahaha. Look, comedy is subjective. A comedian you might like, someone else thinks is a hack. But that Arians joke is hilarious. There's no way around it.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers: Oh, you have six Super Bowl titles? Let's see you get six wins this year. Also: Todd Haley and your offensive line should have their own comedy variety show.
15. Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco's contract. ZING!
16. San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers still has the ability to throw out a good football joke/comically awful pass at any moment, but this team will likely never again reach the comedic heights of the Norv Turner era. Too bad.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: They've made the playoffs two years in a row. But they lost each year in the wild-card round. To the Texans. Once to T.J. Yates! They're in first place. But they're in the AFC North. Also, they have a ginger quarterback and they wear those ridiculous costumes. Most of all, they're the Bengals. There are definitely still jokes to be had.
18. Atlanta Falcons: A highly touted team going 1-4 normally would generate some hearty belly laughs (see: second-ranked Washington). But Julio Jones getting hurt and Tony Gonzalez being forced to waste his final (?) season on a stink team isn't wildly amusing.
19. Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera never thought his team would be this low in the Punch Line Rankings. He should print this out and give it to Jerry Richardson and ask for a new contract. "We're only the 19th-most comical team in the league!"
20. Detroit Lions: They're 4-2 and tied for first, but there's still a lot of Detroit Lions-ness plaguing this franchise. You don't lose all those years of laughs and punch lines by winning four of your first six games. Especially not when your head coach looks like Martin Short and occasionally coaches like a comedian, too.
21. Chicago Bears: They're 4-2 and tied for first, but there's still a lot of Chicago Bears-ness and Jay Cutler-ity that comes with this franchise. Just not quite enough to put them above the Lions on the punch line scale.
22. New England Patriots: Yes, they're 5-1. Counterpoint: Bill Belichick's news conferences, Tom Brady's news conference attire and no Super Bowl wins in the post-Spygate era. If you want to argue, we can move the Patriots up to anywhere from 18-1. OK, then. I didn't think so.
23. Green Bay Packers: The Packers are far from a punchline at 3-2. But they're also far from the team that won the Super Bowl three years ago. Seeing your local Packers fan struggle to accept this fact is definitely worthy of a grin.
24. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are making strides to rid themselves of jokes about their football abilities. At least we'll always have Miami fans/Heat "die-hards" who occasionally are stuck with Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers tickets because of a giveaway at work.
25. Tennessee Titans: It's hard to get people to care enough about the Titans to laugh at them. Do they even deserve to be laughed at? They're 3-3. They're just kind of … bleh. Who knows a good Titans joke? I'll wait. Who remembers a good Titans team? I'll wait.
26. St. Louis Rams: The Titans. But in a dome. Even bleh-er.
27. New Orleans Saints: Just watch.
28. San Francisco 49ers: They're a good team, but watching Jim Harbaugh melt down over minor calls is always good for a laugh. And if Alex Smith continues to outplay Colin Kaepernick, this franchise could earn itself much of the laughter the Chargers have for years for picking Philip Rivers over Drew Brees. Don't discount their punch line potential!
29. Seattle Seahawks: They're 5-1 and have Russell Wilson. Counterpoint: Their uniforms and Pete Carroll's face.
30. Indianapolis Colts: They fell into Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. If you're laughing at them, you probably also laugh at Kate Upton's unsightly knees.
31. Denver Broncos: The Broncos are blowing out everyone. But they have Punch Line potential unlike anyone in the NFL. The playoffs are coming.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Alas, poor Chiefs! Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning?
Quote of the Week
"Sorry if you had to rewrite some of those stories at the end." --Bill Belichick, addressing the media after New England's late victory over the Saints
Ha! The joke is on you, Belichick. Nothing can make me rewrite anything. That's just the work ethic I have. So your comeback victory means nothing because I already wrote that Tom Brady years ago lost his late-game magic. The guy is a choker now, as the Saints game yet again showed. And the Patriots aren't legit because they haven't beaten any good teams this year. It's written down. It's fact. And don't get me started on the Red Sox. They might never score a run against the Tigers.
Stat of the Week
In two career NFL starts -- one with the Browns last year and another with the Bills on Sunday -- Thaddeus Lewis has a 91.9 quarterback rating. And, again, that's in games with the Browns and Bills. People want to fawn over Tom Brady for managing to win games this year with some new receivers. Lewis is a practice-squad QB who has completed 64.1 percent of his passes, thrown for three TDs and run for another ... in two career games. With the Browns and Bills. You can't spell ELITE without ThaddEus LEwIs.
Misleading Stat of the Week
The Texans won the time of possession battle over the Rams by a whopping margin of 10 minutes, 20 seconds -- 35:10 to 24:50. They also ran 73 plays to the Rams' 41, had 27 first downs to just 15 for St. Louis and outgained the Rams 420 yards to 216. It's embarrassing for all the media outlets that are printing the game result as a 38-13 Rams win. No way the Texans lost. Journalism today is in shambles.
This Week's Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Thaddeus Lewis, QB, Bills -- 19-for-32, 216 yards, 2 TD, 17 rushing yards, TD
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants -- 22 carries, 106 yards, 2 TD
Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers -- 47 total yards, 2 TD
Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles -- 4 catches, 120 yards, TD
Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers -- 4 catches, 107 yards, TD
Joseph Fauria, TE, Lions -- 3 catches, 34 yards, 3 TD
Photos of the Week
Press Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
Leslie Frazier: "Did you thank Matt Cassel after the game for making it so easy on you to start Josh Freeman next week?"
Greg Schiano: "Was this press conference room thoroughly Lysoled? Because it's bad enough to have to cover a Tampa Bay Bucs game. I don't want to also get MRSA."
Gus Bradley: "How does it feel to get the first moral victory of your coaching career?"
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
@DJGalloESPN why does Tom Brady get to wear white after Labor Day? And will his sweater get its own reality show
— Brooke (@brooke322) October 14, 2013
People who are extremely wealthy and are married to supermodels and have a long, long, long history of dressing ... uh ... fashionably ... can pretty much do whatever they want with their clothes. They can even wear white after Labor Day, as Brady did after beating the Saints on Sunday.
However, there are limitations. It's one thing for Tom Brady to wear white after Labor Day, it's another thing for Tom Brady to wear women's clothing on ... really, on any day. As @ajpanos noted, it appears Brady wore something very similar to this, a women's sweater. First women's shoes, now this. Where does it stop, Mr. Brady? I hope before this (PG-13, that one).
Forced Sports/Pop Culture Reference in Hopes of Sounding Cool
Home teams were only 6-7 Sunday, proving that NFL team's homelands are not always as good as the critically acclaimed Showtime series "Homeland." You could even say that home teams are "Breaking Bad," which would have been an especially topical cultural reference a few weeks ago. The point is: Playing on the road is not a guaranteed loss in the NFL, so teams should be happy to travel "Eastbound & Down," or other directions. Hey, you should watch "The Wire."
Five Things I Thought You'd Think Or So I Thought
1. Some Texans fans cheered when Matt Schaub got hurt Sunday. Some 49ers fans were doing the wave when Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell was prone on the field. It's common to hear people say that Eagles or Raiders fans are the worst in football. For my money, I say some fans are the worst. They're always doing things that make everyone look bad. Go to any NFL game and you'll see some fans who are just horrible. You know what? We, the good fans who respect and understand football, should boo some fans. Some fans suck.
2. The NFL forces new players to go to the Rookie Symposium every year. The league also forces players to sit through a lecture every year on new rules and rule changes. All of that is well and good. But if Roger Goodell truly cares about the quality of his product, it's time for NFL head coaches to be forced to attend an annual seminar on clock management. It's shocking to see, week after week, highly paid men with years of experience completely botch the final minutes of a game. And these same men get no better at their ability to manage the clock year after year after year. It's one thing to have volunteer coaches mangling youth football games. But these are millionaires in the country's most popular sport. There are matters of NFL shield protection to consider!
While a responsible coach would take it on himself to learn clock management during the NFL's eight-month offseason, that's clearly not happening. And there are currently no classes required to become an NFL head coach. It's time for mandatory courses such as:
The Moving Numbers on the Scoreboard? That's the Game Clock
How Many Timeouts Every NFL Team Has
Incomplete Passes Stop the Clock
What Is the Two-Minute Warning
Requiring NFL head coaches to take elementary clock management classes such as these would instantly improve the quality of the league – and also make sports radio less screamy. Win-win. Do it, Mr. Goodell.
3. An Ohio man, a living Ohio man who disappeared for eight years, was told by a state judge this week that he is legally dead because he had been declared dead years ago and there is a three-year time limit for challenging a death ruling in Ohio. What does this have to do with sports? It's obvious. While some Browns fans might be excited by Cleveland's 3-3 start, the team was declared dead years ago, so none of those wins are legitimate in the eyes of the law. Sorry, Cleveland.
4. Peyton Manning had his worst game of the season against the Jaguars, completing less than 70 percent of his passes, throwing an interception, and having a quarterback rating below 105 (92.9) for the first time all year. Interestingly enough, his younger brother Eli Manning also plays in the NFL, and he has only one game this year with a completion percentage above 60 percent, he has thrown at least one interception in every game and he has only one game for the season with a quarterback rating higher than 64.8. This concludes our continuing coverage of Peyton is having a great year, while Eli is having a terrible year, but oh yeah, say Giants fans, two rings.
5. The question is no longer if the "Redskins" will change their name. It's going to happen. And Dan Snyder is going to generate a fortune thanks to Washington die-hards buying up all the old merchandise and apparel and then doubling up on new Redtails or Renegades or whatever merchandise and apparel. The question is, using that vast sum of name-change money, what free agent or coach will Snyder horribly and comically overpay?
How They Spent Their Bye Week
Falcons: Live-tweeting their drives around town.