My thoughts on all 32 NFL franchises ahead of the chaotic 2021 off-season conclude today with thoughts on the eight teams from NFC south and west divisions.
While most focus is on the NFL playoff contenders and pretenders, I prefer to celebrate sustained failure and the diametrically opposed goals of the front office (lose more equals higher picks) and the players (lose more equals no job for next year).
In that regard, sustained failure is more difficult than sustained excellence. Excellence of failure should and is rewarded with discourse in the sporting narrative.
1. Lock it in, Eddie: New York Jets (0-9)
The undisputed Erwin Rommel of tanking, the Jets are historically bad. Adam Gase will be out of a job sooner than Donald Trump.
This is a roster devoid of talent at pretty much every position, and Sam Darnold is likely playing for a roster spot somewhere else next year, given the presumptive first pick is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
But fear not, Jets fans – perennial 1999-2018 TankBowl darling Cleveland can show you the blueprint out of the bunker. Plus, Gang Green have Seattle’s first-round pick as past of the Jamal Adams trade.
The Jets have next week off to fortify their position for a critical TankBowl game against the Chargers. Their remaining fixtures – Dolphins, Raiders, Seahawks, Rams, Browns, Patriots – might all be against playoff teams.
At least when you hit rock-bottom, the only way is up. Unless, like the Jets, you prefer to fire your barrels into the ground to create a new bottom.
2. Battling for the #2 pick: Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7)
When Leonard Fournette was released prior to the start of the season, I thought Jacksonville were a lock for the TankBowl. Foolishly, they fought with real ammunition and beat Indianapolis in Week 1.
Since replacing these for test shells, they own the NFL’s second-best losing streak (or should that be second-worst? Eh, you get the idea). Their short-term prognosis is not as dire as the Jets; they have a reasonable number of young talented players on both sides of the ball and are arguably a quarterback upgrade from returning to mid-table mediocrity.
Fans will speak of Sacksonville 2017 as ‘the good times’ – half of that defensive line now resides in true contenders Baltimore.
3. Dallas Cowboys (2-7)
If Dak Prescott doesn’t show you the value of the quarterback position in the NFL, I don’t know what will. Injuries have rendered this team the burnt-out shell of a Panzer IV and they really should be 1-8 if Atlanta knew how to play special teams.
Given that the remainder of the NFC East is equally as putrid, their chances of finishing 2-14 aren’t a given.
They showed some fight against the Steelers last week. Fools. Replenish your inventory with draft picks, not wins!
4. New York Giants (2-7)
When your only Pro-Bowl calibre player on offence tears his ACL in the second week of the season, you know it’s going to be a long one. Like the Jaguars, they have enough young pieces around, but Daniel Jones looks nothing like a quarterback that is going to be in the top half of the league.
If they end up picking this high again, some serious consideration needs to be given to moving on. If they can’t light up a crippled NFC East, they will get furiously pounded by Raketenpanzerbüchse 54s from all sides when the Cowboys and Eagles finally remove their players from the trainer’s table.
5. Washington Football Team (2-6)
I’m not sure who of the Jets or the Football Team I would want driving down the minefield if my life depended on it. If I needed a team to make a stop though, I’d be taking Washington.
Their front seven have looked strong – reactive armour strong – and if they ever work it out on the other side of the ball they could well be pushing for the NFC East title shortly.
You’ll note that I’ve just rattled off three of the four teams in the NFC East in short succession. This division are all Tiger Tanks in a league of T34s.
6. Los Angeles Chargers (2-6)
Chargers losses this year by: three (OT), five, seven, three (OT), one and five. The anti-Chicago Bears. If they were a funds manager, you’d short every position they had for guaranteed profit.
As a football team, they’ve been smashed with injuries again but Justin Herbert seems to be the real deal. Now if they could just find some fans, and some fortune, they’d be a real football team.
7. Houston Texans (2-6)
Bill O’Brien sent this pick to Miami before he was sacked as part of the Laremy Tunsil trade.
Dolphins fans – and league fans – will be itching to see this turn into a top-five pick; unfortunately for the schadenfreude squad, they have a manageable run in with a whole battalion of non-playoff teams – Browns, Patriots, Lions, Colts, Bears, Colts, Bengals, Titans. There are a few wins in that lot. They still have Deshaun ‘M1 Abrams’ Watson, after all.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1)
Look, I’ve put the Bengals here because I don’t like leaving a list on the number seven.
Joe Burrow can play. They’ve won games, had a couple of close losses, and still have to run over Washington, the Giants, and the Cowboys in a glorious four-week stretch.
They won’t be serious TankBowl contenders; 7-8-1 is not beyond them. They should fire every 2021 salary cap dollar and draft pick available into the trenches. Don’t be surprised if this is a playoff team in a few years.
Critical TankBowl games 2020
Week 11 – Jets at Chargers
Week 11 – Bengals at Football Team (guys, get a new nickname already)
Week 12 – Football Team at Cowboys
Week 14 – Cowboys at Bengals
Week 17 – Cowboys at Giants (this could be for a top-three pick. Daniel Jones playing for his career. Get excited!)