November 02, 02012
This article originally appeared on the site RealClearSports.com. It is re-published here with permission.
Welcome back to the Pregame Flyover, the only column where mediocrity is cherished above excellence.
Before we get to this week’s schedule of games – and tell you which games are Probably worth watching, which games are of Questionable worth, Doubtful worth, and no worth – let’s hand out some mediocre hardware for the midway point of the NFL season.
Best? Worst? No, we pay homage to the Most Mediocre
Society, in its ceaseless march to reward excellence and punish failure, overlooks the vast majority of us who are simply mediocre. The NFL is no different, as columnists and talking heads spend an inordinate amount of time discussing folks at the respective ends of the spectrum – breakout teams, MVP candidates; worst teams, coaches on the hot seat – while overlooking the sprawling ocean of people who are simply getting by in the 2012 NFL season.
Not us! We champion the obscure and laud the mundane.
It’s week nine of the NFL season, the official midway point of the 17-week campaign, so let’s give the middle of the pack their just due.
Most mediocre team: (tie) Cardinals and Seahawks. At 4-4, they’re the only two NFL teams that are exactly .500. At this point it doesn’t look like it’s going to be either of their years to lose to the Steelers in the Super Bowl.
Most mediocre division: NFC West. What are the odds that the only two NFL teams with .500 records – the only two teams that can’t decide if they are winners or losers – would hail from the same division?!?
Most mediocre debate: Is Matt Ryan the midseason favorite for NFL MVP?
Most mediocre defensive debate: Is J.J. Watt the midseason favorite for Defensive Player of the Year?
Most mediocre rookie starting quarterback: Russell Wilson. He is the starting quarterback of the most mediocre team (tie) in the NFL. He wins this award by default.
Most mediocre New York team: Bills. You may think we don’t notice you tucked up there in the western corner of the Empire State, but you gave Mario Williams the largest contract ever awarded to a defensive player, and that basically amounts to media bribery. We have been forced to notice that you remain disappointing, and that you will likely extend the longest postseason drought in the NFL (1999). But watching you play is still more entertaining than watching the Jets.
Most mediocre Florida team: The Bucs. The Dolphins have been surprisingly competitive behind Ryan Tannehill, while the Jaguars (1-6) are vying for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. The Bucs, meanwhile, are just chugging right along at an uninspiring 3-4, after cresting early in the national discussion by bum-rushing the Giants’ victory formation in week two. With that move the Bucs started the most mediocre discussion of the first half of the season: Is it commendable to crash a kneel down and ostensibly do everything you can to win? Or is it the punk move of a bitter loser? The only people who came out winners in that discussion were sports columnists, who haven’t been able to mail in that many mediocre columns since writing (every year) about the snubs in the voting for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Most mediocre California team: Raiders. The Niners are the best team in the NFC West and a Super Bowl contender. The Chargers are employing Norv Turner until early January. Meanwhile the Raiders, long known as the grease fire of California NFL teams, have beaten the Steelers, nearly beat the undefeated Falcons, and have quietly won two straight for a 3-4 record. For a team that lost 11 or more games in an NFL-record seven straight seasons, a taste of mediocrity is quite quenching.
Most mediocre Manning: Peyton. Eli has two Super Bowl wins to Peyton’s one, while their seldom-mentioned brother (Danieal) is now playing for the Texans and still looking for his first.
The Weekly Best
Sit down and enjoy some canapés, you’re about to ingest the Weekly Best.
Best week to read the Weekly Best: When mediocrity is being touted.
Best 2-6 team in the NFL: Dem Browns got spunk.
Best mad bomber: Josh Freeman leads the league with nine passes of 40-plus yards.
Best race among major NFL awards: Peyton Manning vs. Adrian Peterson for the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Best guess says: Peterson wins it.
Best boost to Mark Sanchez’s confidence: “Bro, you got a better passer rating than Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel AND John Skelton.”
Best bald quarterback in the NFL: And Matt Hasselbeck is having a halfway decent year for the Titans.
Best division in the NFL: Remember when people thought it was the NFC West?
Best remind me when that was: Back when the 4-4 Cardinals were 4-0.
Best team in the NBA: Obviously not the Lakers.
Best reason to mention that in an NFL column: I hate the Lakers.
Best NFL rookie quarterback: But Dick LeBeau and the Steelers made RGIII look like a college freshman.
Best get that boy some protection: Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a league-leading 28 times.
Best quarterback stat line: Tony Romo had a league-leading 437 yards passing against the Giants last week, along with four interceptions, four sacks, one touchdown, and a passer rating (58.3) that was only slightly worse than Eli Manning’s (58.4).
Best keep things in perspective: Millions of people are still without food, water and electricity thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
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Cameron Martin's Pregame Flyover column on the upcoming NFL weekend runs each Friday on RealClearSports.com. He may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CameronDMartin.