I spent last weekend at Wrigley Field, watching the stupid Cubs clinch their stupid division and drink some stupid champagne in front of their stupid fans. It was the first time my father had ever been to Wrigley Field, and I have to think it'll be his last. Poor guy. He makes it nearly 60 years without visiting the place despite living in the same state, and the day he shows up, the Cubs celebrate a division championship by beating his Cardinals in front of him. Baseball sucks sometimes. Anyway, you'll eventually end up hearing a lot more about this game, down the line — and aren't you ecstatic about that? — but because this is the final week until the baseball playoffs start, I'm gonna stick to the NFL. Because, this week, it's something that will make people in Chicago miserable. And they could use some of that. 32. St. Louis Rams (0-3). Fantastic stat from the invaluable St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Rams didn't reach their opponent's 20-yard line until their 119th play of the season. Earlier in their loss to the Seahawks, they recovered a fumble at the Seattle 23. Three plays later, it was fourth-and-12. And you know what? I still have a fear they'll sweep the Buzzsaw. 31. Kansas City Chiefs (0-3). In lighter times at Arrowhead, Larry Johnson used to make fun of Herman Edwards in press conferences.
At this point, Larry-Johnson-as-Herman-Edwards has to be considered a legitimate candidate to coach the team, doesn't he? I hadn't realized the Chiefs had actually lost 12 in a row. Their next winnable game looks to be Thanksgiving weekend. 30. Detroit Lions (0-3). It has been since 2001 — 2001! — that Matt Millen has been in charge of the Lions. Therefore, it's easy to forget that, back before this destruction all started, he was, in fact, a rather awesome NFL analyst. Weird, right? It seems odd to think that Matt Millen was ever competent at anything. I keep imagining him walking into doors, or peeing in the sink, or putting his pants on backwards.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3). I have found that Cincinnatians (Cincinnatities? Cincinnatiarians?) tend to find it frustrating that the rest of the country mostly just knows them for Pete Rose, racial strife and "WKRP In Cincinnati." I agree that the brilliance of WKRP doesn't make up for the ugliness of the first two ... but man, it's closer than you'd think. I caught WKRP on a rerun while trying not to sleep the other night, and, dammit, that show was funnier than I remembered. That Gary Sandy, too ... what a hunk!
28. Oakland Raiders (1-2). I know it's all settled now, but wouldn't it have been great if Lane Kiffin had just kept winning, like, 10 in a row? Al Davis clearly was going to fire him after his next loss — because Al Davis is fucking insane — and I don't doubt that he would have done it even if the team were 11-1. I hope he never dies. Promise me he'll never die.
27. Houston Texans (0-2). I'm writing this from a suburban Starbucks in Lisle, Illinois, and I have decided that the people who hang out in a Lisle, Illinois Starbucks at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday are the human equivalent of the Houston Texans. Except I can easily ignore the Houston Texans. 26. Cleveland Browns (0-3). I don't think there's ever been an easier preseason pick for Team Everyone Will Grumble About Having To Watch On National Television In November than the Browns. The good news is that Brady is coming soon. By the way, remember that ESPN Magazine piece about how Braylon Edwards was branching out to become a multimedia star? That hasn't quite worked out, even though I see him on my Yahoo fantasy page every day, doing his thing, popping in every once in a while to say, "Most definitely" while our world descends into chaos. 25. Seattle Seahawks (1-2). I swear to God, if this boring, sloppy, uninspiring team ends up sneaking into an NFC West division win again — and I'm pretty sure they will — I'm only watching the WNBA this January. Wait: Does the WNBA play in January? Oh, here's a fun tidbit I learned while reading Athlon's NBA Preview on the plane yesterday: JaVale McGee, the Washington Wizards' first round pick this year, is the son of a former WNBA player. I can't believe I didn't know this. This news stuns me in about 13 different ways. 24. New York Jets (1-2). So, have we decided yet which modern-day aging rock band equivalent this is? An Aerosmith tour? Sex Pistols? Metallica? I tend to think it's kind of like a Smoking Popes reunion. Sure, Favre looks (sounds) pretty much like he used to, but somehow diluted, tired, uninspired, in a way that makes you question his earlier work. But still: It's better than the band being broken up.
23. San Francisco 49ers (2-1). After my "controversial" piece for NY Mag about why the Olympics are sports for people who don't like sports, I have a bunch of people ask me, "OK, wise guy, what does make a real sports fan?" I have no idea, of course, but here's a sign you're not one: If you watched the Emmys the other night. 22. Miami Dolphins (1-2). I had a lot of fun the other day trying to convince a friend of mine that Ronnie Brown was not left handed, making his touchdown toss that much more impressive. I don't know I found this funny; I never even let him in on the "joke." I'm now convinced Leinart should switch to his right hand, though. Can't hurt. 21. Chicago Bears (1-2). Now that the Bears have lost two crushing games in a row, I think Bears fans could use a pickmeup.
Freeze! 20. Atlanta Falcons (2-1). Matt Ryan has the team off to such a nice start that I'm pretty sure he's gonna sign with a European team in the next couple of weeks. It makes sense: I think one Euro is worth about $45,000 right now. 19. The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals (2-1). A friend of mine, who has never had any particular connection to any NFL team, has decided to follow the Buzzsaw this year because he "likes Kurt Warner." I tried to warn him, but to no avail. We get the Jets in East Rutherford this weekend. Either we're gonna finish the easiest part of our schedule 2-2 — and therefore be doomed — or every Jets fan is absolutely going to freak out next week. Losing at home to us is always good for opposing fans' existential crisis. 18. New Orleans Saints (1-2). This is probably a little low, actually. I was thinking of Spike Lee's Katrina documentary the other day, how it started a career resurgence for him that apparently is going to end with the lamentably poorly reviewed "The Miracle At St. Anna." Did anybody else notice him in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium the other night? It's nice to know Spike has a StubHub account. 17. Indianapolis Colts (1-2). Boy, I sure can't wait until the Patriots-Colts game this year, can you? John Madden is going to sound so depressed. 16. New England Patriots (2-1). I know, it's already been played to death pretty much everywhere, but I will never, ever tire of Bill Belichick's "we were competitive in the kicking game" quote. The craziest thing is that it's probably the best compliment Belichick has ever given his team.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1). Brian Griese threw 68 passes Sunday. Brian Griese! 68! It's third-most all time in a single game. So you'd think Brian Griese would be the last person who would go so nuts. But look at the other people who have thrown 68 passes in a game: Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testaverde, George Blanda and Jon Kitna. That's not THAT far off, is it? The college football record, by the way, is Drew Brees' 83 passes, on my 23rd birthday. And his mom is still not impressed. 14. Minnesota Vikings (1-2). You'd have to think that by now, even if Gus Frerotte ends up getting hurt (and no idea how that might happen), Tavaris Jackson won't be quarterbacking this team anymore. The other backup is John David Booty, who I hope ends up starting, so he become the third USC quarterback with a lead job in the NFL who isn't Matt Leinart. 13. San Diego Chargers (1-2). Couldn't possibly agree with Drew more: I am really going to have to watch Philip Rivers — THAT guy? — become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over the next few years? I'm trying to think of a less likable quarterback, and the best I can come up with is the heyday of Kerry Collins. Who, of course, everybody kind of likes now. 12. Washington Redskins (2-1)). I think it's funny when people still have active MySpace pages; not to sound like a social networking nerd here, but seriously, uh, unless you're a struggling band or a practicing prostitute, I can't fathom why anyone wouldn't use Facebook at this point. (Or Friendster, of course.) Anyway, while searching for Jason Campbell, I found his team-sponsored MySpace page, which even they have abandoned at this point. But hey, he's friends with Joe Gibbs. I still miss the tubby Joe Gibbs.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2). I'm feeling more confident about my Super Bowl pick, though the schedule still isn't getting any easier. My favorite story of the Jack Del Rio era is still when his punter cut his leg with the motivational axe. You really can't trust punters around shiny objects. 10. Carolina Panthers (2-1). Honestly, the Panthers' schedule is ridiculous. I am outraged about this — outraged! — but not nearly as outraged as the brilliant and psychologically fascinating Andrew Sullivan is about Sarah Palin. Still. Andrew Sullivan is one of the best political minds working right now, and Gov. Palin has reduced him to a sputtering fountain of empty, wonderfully entertaining fury. He actually responded to news that the VP debate would not have a "loose format" because the McCain campaign worried it would "leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive" by saying, simply, "Are you fucking kidding me?" If President Palin ends up starting World War III in a couple of years because she saw an image of Christ in a yoga mat during a Pilates class, Andrew Sullivan is going to be one satisfied piece of nuclear vaporized particles.
9. Baltimore Ravens (2-0). Speaking of politics — because I never, ever have anything to say about the Ravens — the Presidential debates begin Friday, in Oxford, Miss., home of William Faulkner, John Grisham, Joey Lauren Adams and Wright Thompson. I really quite love Wright Thompson's stuff at ESPN — and what he did for Genarlow Wilson will outlast just about anything anyone's ever done a blog, and his Yankee Stadium piece this week was so much better than it had any right to be — but I kind of think his Wikipedia page might be self-hosted. It contains the line, "Thompson started his sportswriting career while a student at the University of Missouri, covering Missouri sports and writing as a columnist for the School of Journalism's Columbia Missourian. He loved digging into Spaghetti Red at the late, great Nichols Lunch." Of course, mine includes a reference to Catch, which I'm pretty sure no one has ever, ever read. Anyway, there's a debate Friday. 8. Green Bay Packers (2-1). While we're discussing ESPN writers, I just finished Chuck Klosterman's Downtown Owl, and it's pretty great. If you're one of those people who don't like Klosterman — and there are more of you out there than I ever would have thought — it's so unlike his earlier work that you might even enjoy it, if you give it a chance. As someone who knows that feeling of growing up in a small town, being vaguely depressed for absolutely no reason at all and feeling pretty certain that every day is both the most important day of your life and totally meaningless ... well, the book was right in my strike zone. (Klosterman is a Packers fan, by the way, which is why this is here.)
7. Tennessee Titans (3-0). Just to piss off Iracane, I'm going to talk about my keeper league fantasy team. It's the same league I've been in since I was a freshman in college, and you keep 14 guys a year. That is to say: If you draft someone, they're pretty much yours for live. This year, I ended up with Chris Johnson, Eddie Royal and Tim Hightower. And I'll still probably finish in last for the next decade. 6. Buffalo Bills (3-0). It's becoming clear that the Bills are going to still be undefeated when they come to the Pink Taco in a couple of weeks. I had no idea everyone in Chicago hated Dick Jauron, by the way. 5. Denver Broncos (3-0). Do you realize that there's a possibility Jay Mariotti might take over Woody Paige's old spot at the Denver Post? Or will it be in New York? Pittsburgh? (My money's on Pittsburgh, or Yahoo.) Rick's absolutely right: Beware, American, he could be coming to YOUR TOWN NEXT.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1). During the Steelers' final "drive," I was actively disappointed not to see the Steelers' offensive line carrying Byron Leftwich down the field, like in that famous Marshall game. What seemed heroic at the time now simply looks like nice men carrying the broken old man down the field. He's like Samuel L. Jackson in Unbreakable. It's like they were Segways. 3. New York Giants (3-0). I hope everybody likes the NFC East, because they have the best three teams in football right now. The Giants have a bye week this week, which is sad, because that means it won't be the same time as the Jets'. That never happens. It's a shame: For one weekend, it would be nice for New Yorkers to have the same NFL Sunday entertainment options as Los Angelenos.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1). I have to say, Deadspin readers, you really need to start cheering for the Phillies to collapse. Can you imagine what it's going to look like around here if the Phillies are in the playoffs and the Eagles remain one of the best teams in football? You thought I was bad in October 2006? This site is going to come equipped with splash guards.
1. Dallas Cowboys (3-0). I recommend everyone check out the oddly mesmerizing Orwell Diaries Blog. I think Orwell would have been a great sports blogger. He would have enjoyed "Hard Knocks," I suspect.