Many things will change when Obama is elected. Other things will stay the same. And then there's a third category: things that are profoundly changing, and will continue to change, regardless of who's president. One of these things is anti-terrorist warfare. The war on terror is becoming a war between madmen and machines. A few years ago, jihadis had the upper hand because they didn't mind killing or dying. Now they're being blown away by remote-control pilots who can't be killed. The machines in the sky don't bleed, and they spare us the difficulties of an official troop presence. Pakistan has become the world's first robot proxy war.And so it begins ... Anyway. At least I didn't talk about Obama and McCain to start this week. Just one week to go, my friends. 32. Detroit Lions (0-7). In honor of Jon Kitna's shocking display of humor and self-awareness, a few notes on Halloween. Maybe it's my advanced age or just a lack of social graces, but this is the first time in memory that I haven't been invited to a single Halloween party. (I've even hosted them.) To be honest, this is just fine and dandy with me. It's always too much work to put together a costume, and no matter how far you're willing to go with it — and I'm never willing to go very far — there's someone who trumps you and makes you feel like a dope for even trying. The best Halloween costume I ever saw was four years ago, when a friend went as an Abu Ghraib prisoner. It's difficult to rise above that, or fall beneath it. 31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8). It's probably for the best that the NFL ordered Chad Johnson to take the "Ocho Cinco" off his jersey. Jokes like that aren't quite as funny when you're 0-8 and won't be favored until the last game of the season. (Maybe.) 30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-6). It would be fair to classify me as someone who lacks sartorial flair, but I have a legitimate question to any man out there who knows how to dress himself. Because I can only wear the same version of the same black T-shirt before people start considering me homeless, I've taken to wearing regular button-up shirts with a "sport" jacket over them. (Like so.) For years, I've worn undershirts, until a few weeks ago, when an acquaintance, upon seeing my plain white T-shirt under a blue shirt, basically laughed and pointed for about 15 minutes. I tend to wither under such circumstances, so I've stopped wearing them. I'm, of course, sweating through everything I own now. Is there a right answer to this question? Because I'm all screwed up. 29. San Francisco 49ers (2-6). New coaches usually are hired either to relax players who chafed under a totalitarian regime or light a proverbial fire under a group of layabouts. But it's rare that a coach loses his fucking mind after one game. For years, Singletary was an up-and-coming coaching prospect who never got top jobs because of whispers that he "wasn't ready." I think I understand now why there were whispers. Settle down, dude. It's one game. 28. Oakland Raiders (2-5). I know Drew's book is about to take over every frame of your Web browsing experience — and with good reason — but I'd like to take a brief moment to shout out to the Free Darko guys, whose Marcrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac I had the distinct pleasure of reading this weekend. It's annoyingly brilliant, particularly because they now have better editors than, uh, me. A note to both Drew and the Free Darko folks: Your books are well-thought-out, vividly illustrated and disturbingly organized. You're making the rest of us, who just slapped our books together as quickly as we could type them, look retroactively quite lame. Stop it, please. 27. Seattle Seahawks (2-5). Yep, these guys are in second place in the NFC West. They're only two games out, and still have to play the division leaders twice. I've had just about enough of this, "The Arizona Cardinals will run away with this division talk." I remind you once again: These are the Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals. I'm putting odds of them blowing it at, oh, 75:25. 26. St. Louis Rams (2-5). A couple of weeks ago, for an article I wrote for the magazine, I watched the first four Saw movies in a row. This is not something I would recommend — even though the movies are better than they're given credit for — but I now have several different ways to methodically mutilate all my enemies. This comes in more handy than you'd think. Remember when movies had characters who would slip arsenic in people's drinks? It's much more fun when there is a pendulum, or the racks. 25. New York Jets (4-3). I know, they won, and I dropped them. Again, like you care. Anyway, this team almost lost to the Chiefs at home, and it was almost entirely attributable to a lousy game from Brett Favre. That's, like, three in a row now. At this point, you can actually Mad-Lib Favre's postgame, "No such thing as an ugly victory" speech. But there are plenty of ugly losses, and the Jets are about to have a bunch of them. 24. Miami Dolphins (3-4). Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times dropped 75 editorial jobs, which, amazingly, is only 10 percent of the paper's whole staff. (No word if "Christine Daniels" counts as one of the cuts.) How have they not gotten to Plaschke yet? He has to make as much as five or six copy editors, doesn't he? Meanwhile, in sad news, the great — and it wasn't always great, but it sure was great recently — Radar went under last week as well. This is how you know the economic downturn is hitting home: People at newspapers and magazines you don't read are losing their jobs. I always thought they'd be the last to die! 23. San Diego Chargers (3-5). While we're on the topic of job cuts ... Norv Turner is still employed. 22. Houston Texans (3-4). Like
All right, so the world is imploding. You know this. I know this too, though only because the Wassup Guys told me. Surely, these are the last days, before the global apocalypse rids the planet of humans and leaves only some cockroaches, a few stray strands of hair and, of course, Kermit, because Kermit is an indestructible force of shocking malevolence. This is not the way I thought it would go down. I assumed, like the rest of you, it would be the robots. It was always a relief, actually, knowing that Artificial Intelligence Technology would not progress enough in my lifetime to force me to spend my last seconds staring into these cold dead eyes. But I always figured we weren't self-destructive enough as a species to destroy ourselves; the robots were destined to be the benefactors of our vainglory. This is all happening too fast. I fully expected to be on my death bed, screaming, "The robots! Damn the robots! Stop them ... while you still can!" But nope: We're gonna end up blowing ourselves up. Awesome. But wait ... we might end up having the robots do the killing for us anyway.
most few of you, I have been eagerly awaiting the return of "30 Rock." (It stars the lady who plays Palin and the guy who told Matt Damon to get married so he wouldn't look "faggy.") The first episode is already online, and it's typically hilarious — new dad Will Arnett has his best post-G.O.B. role yet — but, good heavens, what happened to Tracy Morgan? He has gained at least 55 pounds since we saw him last. This is what happens when we force our comedic superstars to stop doing drugs.
21. Cleveland Browns (3-4). I appreciate Bill Simmons going through all the trouble, but as much as I'm looking forward to the NBA season (and I really am!), I will never understand fantasy basketball. There are just too many stats. Honestly? I would play a fantasy basketball game that was just "points." That's easy to keep track of. Whoever has the guys with most points wins. That's really all I can handle. Sorry. 20. Indianapolis Colts (3-5). Next week: COLTS! AT! PATRIOTS! The game that will shake you to your very foundations. That is to say: Matt Cassell will be favored to end Peyton Manning's season. OK, that was cheap. It's actually one of my favorite dumb television tricks to pretend the quarterbacks are the whole team. I wish all sports were like this. Utley vs. Baldelli! Seriously, though, the Colts are done if they lose this game. Nice new stadium, though. 19. Minnesota Vikings (3-4). Back to Drew's book for a moment. If you do a Web search for "Men With Balls," this is what you come up with. Not to shill here, but I absolutely promise you the book is funnier than that. 18. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4). And, with a thud, Will finally admits that his Super Bowl pick was a mistake. Inventive Columnist Alert! "If anybody out there knows the Heimlich maneuver, they might want to go over to the Jaguars locker room at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and perform it on a team choking on its preseason hype." The funny thing is: It's not even a metaphor. The entire Jaguars team currently has large chunks of meat lodged in their esophagus. Someone should help them. 17. The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals (4-3). Fans of long-suffering teams, after their teams collapse and lose games they, by all rights, should have won, are apt to saying things like, "Even when it was (insert lopsided score here), I knew they were gonna lose. You could just tell." This is typically a fallacy. If their team would have won, they would have said, "I knew, right then, that this team was different." Everything looks inevitable in retrospect. All that said: I had no doubt that Arizona was going to lose that game. Really. Totally. 16. Denver Broncos (4-3). Look, I made it all the way down here without getting into politics. Not bad! My favorite non-Presidential election story of the week was this essay about Al Franken in Slate by The New Republic's Jonathan Chait. Basically, he points out that Franken is not this Baldwin-esque liberal windbag, but this quiet, rational, helplessly dorky satirist who sheepishly points out the only woman he's ever slept with is his wife. I read "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot" nearly a decade ago, and that's the lone piece of information I remember: That he's never been with anyone other than his wife. I'm not sure if that's a reason to vote for him, or a reason not to. As much as I like the guy, I slightly veer toward the latter. 15. New Orleans Saints (4-3). Back to Simmons for a moment. It's been brought up pretty much everywhere, but I can't fathom how furious he must be to see the ESPN grand tour Barack Obama is taking. Simmons is notorious for taking offense at the most minor insults, and this was awfully freaking far from "minor." I still stand behind my initial assessment into ESPN's thinking: "Some online guy is gonna have Sen. Obama as a guest on his PODCAST? What the hell's a podcast? Better to wait until Stu Scott can talk to him about Carolina hoops after the convention. Why waste the access on a podcast?" Oh, by the way, here's even odds that if Obama wins, Reggie Love is an ESPN talking head within six months. 14. Baltimore Ravens (4-3). I love movie critic blurbs on posters, if just because I still have the newspaper ad from the one time I ever made it in. (Restoration is "winning," says Will Leitch of the Daily Southtown.) Here's my favorite one from this week, about The Secret Life Of Bees: "The cast in 'Bees' should be stung by Oscar." — Lee Thomas, FOX-TV. 13. Atlanta Falcons (4-3). I've been thinking a lot about "Chinese Democracy" lately, mostly because we all heard the first single Well, actually, I hope that's not the first single, considering, well, there's no hook. That's not to say I disliked the song. It kind of rocks, in a way I suspect the whole album will kind of rock. Basically, we've all been waiting so long for this album to come out that there's no way any of us will possibly enjoy it. We just need to get it over with, and out of the way. Axl really needs to come up with a down-and-dirty album, just extra shit he has lying around, slapped together Jack White-style, about six months after this album comes out. What he really needs is a reboot, Batman and James Bond-style. Unfortunately, that's more difficult to do with actual humans than fictional characters. 12. Green Bay Packers (4-3). If you're ever bored waiting to be laid off at work, here's a fun toy: The cumulative traffic stats for every Deadspin writer. In what I pray is not a metaphor for my life as a whole, I still get better traffic for posts I wrote more than a year ago than the ones that I write right now. And hey: A spirited battle between Daulerio and Chandler for the lead spot! 11. Chicago Bears (4-3). Here's something I've noticed over the last few weeks: Now that he has no newspaper to write for — still waiting for those Web sites to come calling, Jay? — Jay Mariotti has spent most of his time serving as the go-to zeitgeist source for the SportsBusinessJournal. I see three quotes in the last week and a half. It's amazing how empty our sporting landscape seems without Mariotti to regularly guide us. 10. Buffalo Bills (5-2). I spent last weekend at another wedding in Buffalo — I think the girl is now officially out of relatives to get married — and discovered something amazing: Right now, in the city of Buffalo, the CBS affiliate is not being carried by Time Warner Cable. Seriously: There's a contract dispute with WIBV-TV and Time Warner, which means that unless you had DirectTV (or a rabbit-ears antenna), you could not watch the Bills game Sunday. It's one thing to miss out on the NFL Network or the Big Ten Network because of cable disputes. But CBS? Really? You can't even watch Letterman? No Two-And-A-Half Men? The millions of Jay Mohr fans are being deprived Gary: Unmarried? This is an extremely ominous sign, people. 9. Dallas Cowboys (5-3). Forgive me for not soiling the britches over a dull escape against Jeff Garcia at home, especially when they're gonna get killed at the Meadowlands this week. Now I remind you that Wade Phillips' daughter is a belly dancer. 8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3). One of the saddest spectacles of this election election cycle? The seeping irrelevance of Matt Drudge. Back in 1998, I felt like pretty much the coolest guy in the world for reading the Drudge Report. I remember being completely befuddled that some dude (in a fedora!) was printing stories that newspapers were ignoring; why were they ignoring these stories? Now Drudge has turned into a fading partisan hack with occasional links to stories about people in Florida who have sex with animals. (And, honestly, the WORST advertisers on the Web. Who are these people?) It's really a shame. I honestly check the Drudge Report about once every two weeks now; I used to go about 10 times a day. Happens to everybody, I guess. 7. Carolina Panthers (6-2). Palin Watch! Now that it appears that Barack Obama is going to .... you know, I'm just gonna cut that statement off at the pass right there. Let's go with: If something COMPLETELY UNLIKELY AND IS IN NO WAY POSSIBLE TO BE JINXED happens like the McCain-Palin ticket losing, there has been considerable debate as to what will happen to our charming vice presidential nominee. Some think she's destined to host a show on Fox News and get the hell out of politics. I am not so sure: Imagine that woman, with her obvious political talents, coming back after three years of studying. If she had a faint idea of what was going on, she'd be quite the formidable opponent. We have not heard the last of her. Here's saying she runs in 2012. And, just in case you want to invest in my theory, you can buy this domain name. 6. New England Patriots (5-2). Yep, they're gonna win this division again. Fortunately, because no one thought to be extra-special-careful while operating on Tom Brady, he's gonna miss next year too. Don't tell Favre. 5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2). I honestly can't get over that Pittsburgh's Congressman, John Murtha, keeps calling his constituents racists. This is quite the stump speech! I dunno, I haven't been in the House for 34 years like Murtha has but, you know, that just seems like an unhelpful strategy. 4. Washington Redskins (6-2). Another oddity from Reilly's column on Obama: Reilly got married last month! It's his second marriage; he was divorced after 22 years of marriage in 2005. That's not what's strange, though. It's that he got married on a Tuesday. 3. Philadelphia Eagles (4-3). As a general rule, if Bud Selig is giving a press conference live on "SportsCenter," it's never a good sign. What was so strange about Selig's explanation of the rainout last night — which, all told, was handled about as well as could have been expected, save for not calling the game in the third inning like they probably should have — was how truly depressed Selig looked. He looked like he'd just made the decision to let Pete Rose sit in the Phillies' dugout, and Pete had ended up shooting Ryan Howard in the face. This is baseball's best spokesperson? From now on, Bud, let Bob DuPuy talk. His interview in the dugout during the delay was straightforward, honest and blunt. And we knew exactly what was going on and didn't feel like something horrible was happening. Come on, Bud! It's a rain delay! It happens! Cheer up! 2. New York Giants (6-1). Probably because I'm a baseball fan, I love safeties. (For some reason, safeties seem like the most baseball-like of all football scores.) So I particularly enjoyed the Giants-Steelers safety that actually tied the game at 14. It's pretty rare that a game has a 14-12 score, so then to have a safety tie it up, in the fourth quarter no less, was kind of fun. And here you were, thinking the Giants were boring. 1. Tennessee Titans (7-0). Hey, so Kerry Collins, right now, has to be considered the favorite to be a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl. That's uplifting! Lest we forget what happened the last time Kerry Collins was in the Super Bowl ... in Tampa no less! That was the worst Super Bowl of my lifetime. We must do what we can to make sure that doesn't happen again.