In the NFL, things are rotten all over

by Gary Shelton on November 17, 2022

in general

Thursday, 4 a.m.

You say your team is lost in the desert. You say they are about two first downs short of expectations. You say it's a hard time to be a fan.

Take heart.

Things are bad all over.

Here in Tampa Bay, where the offense is always running uphill, where there is very little risk it and not much of a biscuit, things are vexing. The Bucs are 5-5, and darned grateful to be that good. The team has lost to Pittsburgh and Carolina, for crying out loud. There are times they seem to be running on fumes and yesterday's newspaper clippings.

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But if there is a saving grace to being a Bucs' fan, it's this.

Everyone else kind of stinks, too.

No, that isn't the greatest solace anyone could offer when your team is underachieving. But, hey, everyone else who you thought would matter is kind of spinning their wheels, too.

As a fan, think of the teams that concerned you as you entered the season. There were the Rams, who had just won a Super Bowl. There were the Packers, with reigning MVP (I still want someone to explain that one to me) Aaron Rodgers. There were the Saints, the arch villain in the Tampa Bay Bucs story. There were the always tough 49ers.

And guess what?

They all have their own brand of misery these days.

The Rams are 3-6 and have lost Cooper Kupp, the guy who is invisible to the Bucs' secondary.

The Saints are 3-7 and playing whack-a-quarterback.

The Packers are 4-6 and you can't separate the squeaking sounds from Rodgers' whining.

The 49ers are 5-4, and whichever quarterback they play seems to be the wrong one.

Oh, it gets worse. Even Buffalo, the preseason Super Bowl pick, is 6-3. Cincinnati, which spent a fortune on a Super Bowl loser, is 5-4. Dallas is 6-3.

The teams that are good? Philadelphia. Minnesota. The Giants. The Jets. Do you take any of those teams seriously yet?

No, it doesn't defend being 5-5, and it doesn't say anything for a line that hasn't blocked enough and a defense that hasn't tackled enough.

But some years, mediocrity is a good place to start.

Oh, don't fool yourselves. The Bucs have a lot of work to do before they can play with Kansas City and Baltimore and Miami. But they should stagger to the NFC South title against Flotsam, Jetsam and New Orleans.

Granted, it's hard to have great confidence in the Bucs' post-season chances. But you can say that for a lot of teams.

So far, they're half-bad, but that's all.

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