The similarities are uncanny…
While the hit Netflix show Stranger Things has the world wondering What happened to Barb?, the NFL community of watchers and opinion-makers can find similar confusion with the Carolina Panthers, creating hypothetical analogies about a very lost Cam Newton. Perhaps he is in the Upside Down? And why does he conduct himself like Hopper when being interviewed?
As we enter Week 7—with an overwhelming abundance of “Eh-Teams”—it’s safe to assume that more than a few people feel like they are currently in some other realm…where an unknown entity, a monster-like being with a Roger Goodell tattoo, is haunting their every move—running or passing, X or Y, huddle or nay.
Yes, it’s strange…this NFL season …and it’s getting stranger.
Teams are left to wonder, searching for the answers. The fans, shackled by Velveeta Wins, incapacitated by Knee Tingles, are chain-smoking with such severity even Winona Ryder would stop and say, “That…you might be overdoing it there, cousin.”
The dread and habitual disassociation with reality only escalates as we get closer to the next week (or episode), though. Suddenly, everyone looks suspicious, conspiring against your favorite team. All of them have Matthew Modine’s eyes…his hair. Your distrust leads to you to ask insane questions to your friends and family. Is anyone eating Eggos and messing with a walkie-talkie? If so, well, there might be something far more sinister happening than a poor start, dammit.
One flicker of a light bulb is enough to set you off to the existential waters of your own sports-based doom—you feel like you’re drowning. Each fumble, each new QB, every assistant fired and a new one appointed to man the given tasks—THE GODDAMN FANTASY TEAM, MAN!!!…you sink deeper and deeper. The walls in your sports cave have been torn to shreds, with remnants of salsa and nachos splattered about the rug and ill-chosen Fatheads. Many think that you are crazy, and they form a secret alliance to get you registered at the Nut Hut.
Meanwhile, the good teams are unaffected. And that bothers you, immensely. Why not those guys?
So, you rift: Football is strange. It’s weird. From the blimp’s view, it looks like the work of Tolkien and his chaotic battles for Middle Earth…
Stranger Things has its Eleven.
The NFL has its Twelve.
Both have similar haircuts. (Like, all the time, too.)
Then, it hits you…
It’s only Week 7!!! Your mind is blown and you eventually vomit into the sink, knowing you must continue onward, labored by the unanswered questions.
And what do we know? Well, nothing really, there is currently one—VUN! Ah, ah, ah—team that has a chance to go undefeated and there are 31 that do not, and that’s about it. But that’s no reason not to string up the paper-mache donkey for another round of swings.
This is no time to give up.
Not now. Not ever!
32. Cleveland Browns: 0-6 (last week: 32)
The Browns are starting to resemble the Jeopardy contestant who doesn’t get to compete in the final segment because their score is zero (or some negative number). And that’s sad, because this team could, at least, use the $300 in Aleve.
31. San Francisco 49ers: 1-5 (last week: 31)
“The most naps I ever took was during a 49ers game.” — Mark Twain, probably.
30. Chicago Bears: 1-5 (last week: 29)
Like having to spend the day on the Navy Pier with your out-of-town buddies, this Thursday could be very dark, bleak, and certainly hopeless, should the Bears lose. If the Cubs follow suit, well, shit.
Soon after, there will be wind and ice. There will be Malort.
29. New York Jets: 1-5 (last week: 28)
Owner Woody Johnson gave a vote of confidence to head coach Todd Bowles this week—but I’m still not convinced ol Woody didn’t think the reporter was asking if he liked Beyoncé Knowles.
28. Carolina Panthers: 1-5 (last week: 22)
So, yeah, this team sucks. But here’s the deal: Species of the Cat Family often struggle when they wear light blue shoes.
27. Indianapolis Colts: 2-4 (last week: 25)
People tend to forget Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd president, and that he lived in Indianapolis. There’s a “Just like the Colts” joke brewing in that information…somewhere.
26. San Diego Chargers: 2-4 (last week: 26)
This team was on the verge of being nothing more than a proverbial NFL vegetable tray, then, last Thursday, they went to Denver and won. That kind of Phillip Rivers-led magic is like when you find out the vegetable tray comes with a giant tub of ranch dressing.
25. Miami Dolphins: 2-4 (last week: 30)
This Dolphins team is difficult to understand. One week, they’re vegan. The next week? They steal all of your Omaha steaks from the refrigerator and your wallet is missing.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-3 (last week: 27)
If these Yaguars beat the Oakland Raiders this week, northeastern Florida might explode into grand colors of gold and blue and leopard print.
If only there was a guy on the team named James, though…then we could fill up most of the team’s breakdowns with “I really like Bortles and James.”
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-3 (last week: 22)
This team will be awfully sleepy when they come out to the Left Coast this week to play San Francisco. The good news: I’m not really sure you need to be awake the entire game when you play the 49ers. They’ll be just like Mark Twain!
22. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-4 (last week: 18)
The Bengals play the Browns this week. By law, I must play this clip:
Tell ’em, Sam.
21. Tennessee Titans: 3-3 (last week: 24)
If you remember, the Titans are on a three-week fiesta, playing against NFL teams that sort of blow.
Next up is the Indianapolis…Colts?
Followed by the Jacksonville…Jaguars?
Mind you, these question marks and ellipses are less about the strength of the team and more about the fact that I don’t think either mascot is an indigenous animal to the specified city.
20. New Orleans Saints: 2-3 (last week: 21)
Drew Brees has the Saints on a two-game winning streak. And by Drew Brees, I mean ONLY Drew Brees. The Saints’ defense has more substantial holes in it than the Duttenhoffer cutoff in Revenge of the Nerds 2—and if you don’t understand the reference, well, let’s just say its pretty goddamn substantial.
Eventually, that group of rag-tag math wizards with pocket protectors figured out a way to succeed, though, so yes to that. And a win this week against the Chiefs would be a step in the right direction for these nerds, er, Saints.
19. Los Angeles Rams: 3-3 (last week: 14)
Yes, the Rams are starting to be…not that great—the team is maybe two losses away from becoming an Adam Sandler franchise.
Let’s just hope this makes it into the film:
18. Detroit Lions: 3-3 (last week: 20)
Once and for all, gang, is it:
Or something completely different?
17. Baltimore Ravens: 3-3 (last week: 13)
So, what we are looking at here is a fan base that has Knee Tingles. Notice the constant pacing. The uncontrollable urge to itch underneath the hat with the raven’s beak bill. This team loses against the Jets this week and we might be seeing the downfall of many, a collective collapse of hope and pessimism hitting the ground in a loud Whoopee Cushion noise. Oddly enough, the bruises will most likely be black and purple.
16. Arizona Cardinals: 3-3 (last week: 19)
Trust your Johnson, Cardinals fans.
15. New York Giants: 3-3 (last week: 16)
Odell Beckham Jr. proposed to a net in last week’s game and the internet went nuts. What’s being missed here, though, is how crazy-simple the combined name will be for this new celebrity power couple.
I mean, yeah, what’s Hair-Net up to this week?
14. Houston Texans: 4-2 (last week: 17)
Brock Osweiler returns to Denver this week where he’s still wanted by authorities for removing mattress tags at an IKEA.
Wait, no, that’s not the same Brock.
This Brock Osweiller returns to Denver this week, so rich…he could buy 100 Leirviks, 600 Tyssedals, and 349 Askvolls from IKEA without breaking a sweat or having to worry about assembly or what the hell any of those words mean.
13. Kansas City Chiefs: 3-2 (last week: 15)
The closer it gets to Halloween the more I miss the fashion sense Neal Smith had for his nose area (that was a pun, too, I guess).
12. Green Bay Packers: 3-2 (last week: 9)
The rich history of the Packers is usually to blame for experts and the fan base treating a 3-2 start like the team is 0-5 and they’re constantly forgetting to wear pants whilst running onto the field.
There’s still hope, though, and I don’t think it’s time—just yet—to start casting calls for Pleasantville 2: Green Bay Meets Tobey Maguire and the Portion of Leo’s Posse Who were Denied Access to the Club.
11. Oakland Raiders: 4-2 (last week: 8)
If the Raiders are going to get back on track they will have to do so on the other side of the earth, near a realm scientists call Southeastern Georgiacola. An interesting space, one-and-a-half in-flight movies away from Oakland, where the inhabitants multiply by playing golf, and the insurance deals are oh, so sweet.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-2 (last week: 6)
The rankings are so ass-backwards—or in the Upside Down, as previously noted—that teams like the Eagles are dropping spots without even playing. It’s that level of strange, gang. Remember: this isn’t Jacksonville (they dropped without but playing, but whatever).
Anyhow, to hell with Barb…where in the hell did the Eagles go?!?
9. Washington Redskins: 4-2 (last week: 12)
If you would have told me the Redskins would be in the top 10 by Week 7 I would have immediately paraphrased the Christmas Vacation line about waking up with my head sewn to the carpet, and so on.
Um…well, it looks like I symbolically need some scissors and carpet cleaner over here, oh D.C. faithful.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-2 (last week: 2)
Landry Jones will replace injured QB Ben Roethlisberger while he recovers from knee surgery, and that’s not the best situation.
The good news: That yellow thing Yinz like to swing is called a Terrible Towel.
So, just be literal.
7. Denver Broncos: 4-2 (last week: 5)
Socnorb Revned is Denver Broncos spelled backwards.
What’s the significance?
That’s what happens when you stare at a team’s name long enough while you aimlessly contemplate a loss to the Chargers.
6. Buffalo Bills: 4-2 (last week: 11)
So yeah, the Bills fan base is heading to Miami this weekend.
Normally, this is where I would warn all of South Florida about the twitter-worthy possibilities—the next level this Buffalo crew goes to: parking lots, bank kiosks, a dent in an old tin-sided mill…all of it just as good as a motel room—but I’m kind of interested to see what happens myself.
5. Atlanta Falcons: 4-2 (last week: 4)
Tough loss last week for the Falcons. But Seattle is not an easy place to conduct business that isn’t related to coffee or flannels, so let’s not start throwing shade toward Arthur Blank or his mustache.
You don’t want to go to the Halloween party as a “missing person”…do you?
4. Seattle Seahawks: 4-1 (last week: 10)
The Klopeks of the Pigskin Piñata, the Seahawks are always on the move. They’re up, they’re down…they’re driving Tom Hanks insane!
OK, look, I’m not sure about that Tom Hanks part, but if this team wins against Arizona this week it basically incinerates the rest of the NFC West’s divisional title chances and puts the collective remnants in the Seahawks’ trunk.
So…there’s some ‘Burbs in there.
3. Dallas Cowboys: 5-1 (last week: 7)
The Dallas Cowboys are riding high, but the bye this week might give the organization too much time to contemplate, oh, I don’t know…the fact that Tony Romo is still 14 years away from Champions Tour eligibility. I mean, he has to do something to earn a living during the interim.
2. New England Patriots: 5-1 (last week: 3)
Bill Belichick thinks that Tablets suck balls—which is super ironic, right?
1. Minnesota Vikings: 5-0 (last week: 1)
Coming off the bye week, still undefeated, still number one in the rankings…it’s not what we expected at this point in the NFL season, but hey, the Vikings are proof there really isn’t a definitive answer to all the strange…occurrences.
Sometimes, you’re up…
Sometimes, you’re down…
Sometimes, you’re Upside Down…
(Drops mic from the top of the balcony; blows the Viking Horn)
Until next week, enjoy the games.