That might have been the worst Sunday in the history of the NFL.
It started with incompetence, ended with an epic struggle, and didn’t show much improvement in between.
Just to drive this point home — the best game of the day might have been a contest marked by two huge failures.
That said, there’s so much to dissect from Week 7 of the NFL season — let’s get through this together and then pretend like it never happened:
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Giants 17, Rams 10 (London)
We can’t keep exporting these bad games to London. The UK is renegotiating its trade deals — they’re probably going to decide this is something they don’t want to continue.
Seriously, this game was an argument against American exceptionalism. The Rams were a dumpster fire and the Giants were a New York City garbage strike. Both are terrible, but technically the one that is on fire is worse.
The Rams are starting to get some heat to start Jared Goff, who, if we’re to believe Jeff Fisher, will be ready to start in the year 2023. Case Keenum, in all honesty, doesn’t deserve to lose his job, but the Rams are going to go 7-9 this year with or without him at quarterback — the team might as well use those wasted games to let the quarterback they traded the franchise to acquire get some snaps.
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Bengals 31, Browns 17
It’s just sad.
The Browns really do try hard and there are a few good players on that team, but being their quarterback is akin to being the drummer in Spinal Tap. Even the engrossingly mediocre Cody Kessler went down. Kevin Hogan, who is not a runner, came in and had to run something on par with the Wildcat offense.
It’s just so sad.
The Bengals, if they were a playoff team, would have won by 35.
Aaron DosterAaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Lions 20, Washington 17
Kirk Cousins is apparently in a contract year -- he believes that he'll make $20 million next year to be a quarterback. Oh to be 28 again….
This game was, of course, a market correction for Washington after getting to 4-2 on the season. That was too far away from the farm for them, and they had to come back a bit closer to the ol’ .500 ranch, where they’re staying this year and will eventually take over full-time once they give Cousins that contract.
The Lions remain a bad team with an above-average quarterback led by the worst coach to ever lead a team to a Super Bowl berth. (Blessed by the angels, Jim Caldwell is.) But they do deserve some credit: The 49ers, perhaps the worst team in football, decided that despite they fact they have all the salary cap room in the world and the worst wide receivers in the NFL, they didn’t want to re-sign Anquan Boldin. The Lions were one of the only teams that wanted him -- perhaps the only team. And he’s doing for them what he’s done since the invention of the forward pass -- making catches in traffic in critical moments of the game using his humungous torso and non-human paws.
Every team in the NFL could use an Anquan Boldin, and the fact that he’s on the Lions both makes me sad and gives me hope for the future of that ridiculous franchise.
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Raiders 33, Jaguars 16
As of the publishing of this article, Gus Bradley still has a job, which is downright miraculous, because frankly, a Weekend at Bernie's situation might coach this team better.
Shad Khan might be my favorite American -- he came into this nation, worked his tail off, and with some luck and charm turned that work ethic into a $7 billion net worth and ownership of an NFL team. I want to shake that man’s hand. Then I want to lean in and tell him that he needs to fire his team’s head coach because he’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen.
The Jaguars are an unholy mess. Here’s how bad it is: it made the Raiders, who are not a good team, no matter what the record says (that defense is going to undercut them so hard), look extremely competent by comparison.
Did you read that? Gus Bradley made a team coached by Jack Del Rio look competent.
I'm starting to think that Blake Bortles is only getting by because he has Ben Roethlisberger's jaw.
Logan BowlesLogan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Chiefs 27, Saints 21
The Saints are the Saints -- we know exactly what they’re going to do every game until Drew Brees retires. They did it again Sunday.
The Chiefs should have won by more than six but didn’t because that’s not how the Chiefs handle business -- they have to make things unnecessarily interesting to balance out the boredom that comes from watching them be successful. It’s the Andy Reid way.
Jeff CurryJeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Dolphins 28, Bills 25
It warms my heart to know that Adam Gase is being bailed out by a running back he deliberately left behind for a game this year. It makes me so happy to see that it’s clearly eating him up, too.
Jay Ajayi has now posted back-to-back 200-yard rushing games -- an incredible and historic feat, especially behind this Dolphins’ offensive line and against the Bills and Steelers. The kid out of Boise State is putting this team on his back.
Gase couldn’t have been less enthused about that in his postgame presser. It was wonderful to behold him try to give credit to Ryan Tannehill, too -- especially considering that if not for a 66-yard pass where two Bills defenders tripped on each other, he’d have finished with 138 yards passing Sunday.
But so long as Ajayi looks like a Hall of Famer -- the dude broke 10 tackles Sunday -- the Dolphins should be fine and Gase can be angry about it.
Jasen VinloveJasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jets 24, Ravens 16
Geno Smith started, got hurt, and Ryan Fitzpatrick played the rest of this game grinding his teeth.
After the win, Fitzpatrick went off on coach Todd Bowles and ownership for not believing in him, as if them signing him to a one-year deal in late July wasn’t indication enough for the guy who went to some school in Boston…
And the Ravens -- they couldn’t beat a team that dysfunctional. I don’t want to say they’re a bad team just yet, but it’s really leaning that way.
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Eagles 21, Vikings 10
I called this game an NFC Championship preview. It might be, but if that’s the case, the NFC Championship Game is going to resemble a silent-film trope.
The first quarter of this game between two good teams was unwatchable. (Though considering what we’d later watch, it was a masterpiece of competence.) Carson Wentz was tossing it all around, the Vikings offensive line might have been four Philly bar bouncers signed before the game and a backup center, and we were all fools for thinking this game could have been worth a damn.
Sam Bradford has bailed out the Vikings for weeks now -- he couldn’t on Sunday as he was being assaulted on every play. I’m starting to think a massive regression (the kind Philadelphia is currently in the middle of) is looming for the Vikings.
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Colts 34, Titans 26
Andrew Luck played really well in this game. That’s a big positive for the Colts.
Now, the bad part: This game was close because the rest of the players wearing the Colts uniform were junior varsity.
It’s a travesty that the best quarterback prospect in a decade is surrounded by a bunch of guys who were the 15-reception tight end at Montana State or the second-leading tackler at Rice.
Meanwhile, all I could notice about the Titans were how often they ran plays where everyone was within the numbers. Seriously, everyone. THAT’S THE OPPOSITE OF HOW YOU USE MARCUS MARIOTA! Mike Mularkey makes Gus Bradley look like Bill Walsh.
The NFL needs promotion and relegation so we can exile the entire AFC South to some league that only plays on Wednesday nights in the spring. We’d all get back three-plus hours of sanity every Sunday. These teams could lose to a bye week.
Anyone who watches the Titans-Jaguars game Thursday is a masochist. (I’m a masochist, but at least I’m paid.)
Christopher HanewinckelChristopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Chargers 33, Falcons 30 (OT)
The NFL now peddles chaos as its main ware, and this is its best-possible product -- two teams that are just good enough to make it look like professional football and just bad enough to give it that college-Saturday weird.
What I’m saying is that this game had a six-beer buzz going. It was right there with you, but it wasn’t all there.
There were positives to the chaos -- Dan Quinn opted to go for it on fourth down in overtime, which was a soberingly bold decision that failed miserably, but it was certainly fun in the moment -- the problem is no one will ever do it again, now -- and the Chargers nearly Chargered the hell out of this game.
Alas, San Diego won back-to-back games for the first time in nearly two years, which is the most NFL 2016 sentence that’s ever been typed.
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Buccaneers 34, 49ers 17
Anyone who watched this game without a double Chargers-Falcons-level buzz needs to seek psychiatric help immediately.
And if anyone starts some “Bucs have something brewing” nonsense, I’m going to lose it. No they don’t -- they played the 49ers. This is the weird game that USC plays at Idaho in exchange for five butt kickings at the Coliseum -- by the time someone in the athletic department realized they forgot to buy it out, it’s too late to find another opponent, so you might as well go to the Kibbie Dome.
That’s the 49ers. They play in the Kibbie Dome.
Chip Kelly is in charge of the cupcake team.
Life comes at you fast.
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Patriots 27, Steelers 16
The Patriots are a buzzsaw and Landry Jones stood no chance of stopping that blade. (Good effort from the backup though.)
Tom Brady’s vengeance tour is reaching new levels of depravity -- levels we couldn’t have seen coming. Sunday, he had a perfect passer rating to Gronk -- impressive enough -- but as the rest of the league flailed, his team looked strong and organized. There were a few dropped passes, sure, but, on the whole, the Patriots looked like professionals.
What other team can say that?
Roger Goodell has a problem on his hands with poor play. It’s going to get worse as the salary cap remains artificially low at the owners’ behest -- they felt so strongly about it, they wrote it into the CBA.
Goodell is eventually going to have to take meetings on how to improve play around the league.
He’s going to have to call Tom Brady (and Bill Belichick too!) and ask him how to save his job.
You know Brady has played that out in his head. The man is cold-blooded.
Charles LeClaireCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Seahawks 6, Cardinals 6 (OT)
This is the reason Goodell is going to have to start taking meetings. This was an unwatchable game that was only partially salvaged by Benny Hill-level slapstick in overtime.
There were a lot of people on Twitter saying that they really enjoyed the game because it had some excellent defense. It’s faux football intellectualism (which is a fake oxymoron.) I don’t go and see action movies for the love subplot -- I want to see stuff blow up.
With football, I want to see some touchdowns and I want to see a reasonable amount of resistance, to make things interesting.
The notion that this game was some Canton-worthy defensive struggle is foolhardy. Yes, the two teams played good defense, but the offenses were wholly incompetent too. There’s no such thing as a “defensive struggle” they’re just “struggles.” It takes two to tango and the offense is the lead.
This whole game was just that. It was the perfect poster for the NFL’s poor-play issue.
Neither team deserved to win, and while both teams can’t lose, this feels appropriate. At least these two teams had the decency to not celebrate running on a treadmill for four hours while eating cake.