NFL

Rick’s Pigskin Piñata: Taking a Swing at the Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

Mars Blackmon, Andy Dufresne, Cousin Eddie, the original mouse whisperer herself, Cinderella, and even Run DMC—in their own special way. All of them legends, all of them key pieces that taught us what the NFL is just now understanding: it’s all about the shoes.

Oh yeah, shoes. The old left and right, the walkers and the joggers, the Bluchers for when you go yachting. The pair with the multicolored shoe laces, right next to the other pair with the Velcro—behind the others that pump. Maybe some British Knights?  (Side note…if you have a pair of Roos with the hidden zipper pockets, then a tip of the cap to you, good sirs.)

Shoes!!

From the Civil War era to the time David Bowie danced in the street with Mick Jagger and beyond, what’s on your feet is almost as important as what’s for dinner. (If the slippers were anything but ruby red, I’m pretty sure those Munchkin-types would have offed Dorthy without hesitation.)

And this importance goes for the sports world, too.

Unless you are Mary Lou Retton, the girl from Flashdance or the flag bearer from Tonga, shoes are a necessity for getting the job done, and done right. No shoes equal no dice—and I don’t mean Andrew Clay, yo! You show me a sports fan who shouts, “Shoes don’t necessarily make the world go ’round!” and I’ll show you a person who has never run the 40-yard dash, never stretched that double into a triple, never went “Z hook, 36 spread, Y banana, on two on two,” before. None of it. Just a cloud of denial and a giant bunion you named Paul because it’s big and a laugh is better than a cry.

For the NFL, though, as we’ve noticed, it’s not been an easy journey toward such acceptance of historical pieces of popular culture. Far from it, really. Mind you, the NFL brass aren’t anti-shoes. It’s kind of a necessity for the players—sans kickers. But the NFL’s old-school judgement of what’s wearable, and what’s not, is something straight outta Model T.

Here’s the NFL’s creed on shoes (Section 4, Article 3-g):

Shoes must be of standard football design, including “sneaker” type shoes such as basketball shoes, cross-training shoes, etc. League-approved tri-colored shoes are permitted with black, white, and one team color. Each team must select a dominant color for its shoes, either black or white (with shoelace color conforming to the dominant color of the tongue area of the manufacturer’s shoe). The selection of dominant color must be reported by each team to the League office no later than July 1 each year. Each player may select among shoe styles previously approved by the League office. All players on the same team must wear shoes with the same dominant color. Approved shoe styles will contain one team color which must be the same for all players on a given team. A player may wear an unapproved standard football shoe style as long as the player tapes over the entire shoe to conform to his team’s selected dominant color. Logos, names, or other commercial identification on shoes are not permitted to be visible unless advance approval is granted by the League office (see Article 7). Size and location of logos and names on shoes must be approved by the League office. When a shoe logo or a name approved by the League office is covered with an appropriate use of tape (see Article 4(f)), players will be allowed to cut out the tape covering the original logo or name, provided the cut is clean and is the exact size of the logo or name. The logo or name of the shoe manufacturer must not be reapplied to the exterior of taped shoes unless advance approval is granted by the League office. Kicking shoes must not be modified (including using a shoelace wrapped around toe and/or bottom of the shoe), and any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe. Punters and placekickers may omit the shoe from the kicking foot in preparation for and during kicking plays. Punters and placekickers may wear any combination of tri-colored shoes provided that the colors are consistent with those selected by the team and with the policy listed above.

And here’s Henry Ford on the Model T:

Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.

This dynamic—though I think Ford was kidding and the NFL, unfortunately, is as serious as algebra—has netted a small fortune for the league by fining players for wearing non-approved cleats, making an example that Roger Goodell et all is not—ever!—about the shoes. They are about…well, that’s debatable.

Last week, however, the NFL decided to loosen its mighty grip, and the belt on their khakis, by relaxing the mechanism for all-things hell no!! For one NFL business week, players would be allowed to wear cleats with whatever the hell they wanted on them…with the understanding that the aforementioned “what ever the hell” was highlighting a charity of the player’s choosing. #MyCleatsMyClause

And man, did the players run with it…to show a few:

During a time when sports in general has to deal with various unsightly issues—which seem to multiply with each week and flip of the news cycle—the gesture was a slice of exuberance, sidestepping such mundane denials and relinquishing the power vice, allowing, for just a moment, the original mantra of sports being a child’s game, that they are meant to cause good feels and fun times for all, to have center stage. And, like most acts, you want to take that center stage with the right kind of shoes.

Sure, the result had it’s debates, and one guy was an ass-bag and went Kanye—but it was a one-off and not the plague. In the end, it was fun. And it raised money for something other than the NFL’s pockets.

Golf clap, gang. Salute.

With that I welcome you to Week 14! What do we know? Well, nothing as usual. Sometimes, it snows. Other times, it doesn’t snow. And sometimes, all this talk about snow makes you think of the rapper Snow, who sang that one song no one could ever understand the lyrics to…

(Lick-y boom-boom?)

Anyhow…

Stick, please.

Let’s rank!

32. Cleveland Browns: 0-12 (last week: 32)

Joe Thomas—the proverbial burger-flipper, who has the skills for something far greater but just looooooooves flippin’ those burgers—deserves at least one win this year, Dawg Pound.

Win one for Joe Thomas. Hell! Win one for Dave Thomas, too.

When you’re 0-12, I don’t think you can be that choosy.

31. San Francisco 49ers: 1-11 (last week: 31)

I wonder if LiLou does football-related matters as well?

Hire that pig, 49ers.

OINK!

30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-10 (last week: 29)

Quarterback Blake Bortles now has 11 career interceptions returned for a touchdown (a pick-six). To put that into perspective: imagine returning 11 Banana Republic sweaters and never using the store credit, then someone you hardly know steals the credits and then goes and buys a bunch of scarves and plaid shirts…

And then sells them to your wife and friends at a profit.

29. New York Jets: 3-9 (last week: 28)

The Gumby with Mono team of 2016, this Jets squad looks green and lazy…and all bent outta shape.

28. Chicago Bears: 3-9 (last week: 30)

Two things, Bears fans:

  • This team is undefeated with Matt Barkley at the helm when it’s snowing.
  • Malort doesn’t freeze.

27. Los Angeles Rams: 4-8 (last week: 26)

New Rams correspondent, Hutch Schwartzman, phoned in via Snapchat to voice his concerns about this current Los Angeles team:

26. Carolina Panthers: 4-8 (last week: 25)

House rules, Cam.

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25. Philadelphia Eagles: 5-7 (last week: 21)

Shamefully cloaked with one of the biggest declines during the season, the Eagles started off strong and now—now I’d be real worried if I was the stadium-hired Santa Claus. Just sayin’.

24. New Orleans Saints: 5-7 (last week: 22)

A win against the Buccaneers this week will put the Saints at 6-7, which is Cockney for confused. That’s about the best breakdown I’ve ever given for any specific team.

Moving on!

23. San Diego Chargers: 5-7 (last week: 19)

Coming to a Ralph’s parking lot near you, Los Angeles, your new neighbor and San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles QB, one Mr. Phillip “whaddaya mean they’re outta Sarsaparilla!” Rivers.

22. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-7-1 (last week: 27)

The Bengals travel to Cleveland this week for Act. II of the in-state fiesta I like to call, “Why Did I Skip My Sunday Bowling League for This?”

21. Arizona Cardinals: 5-6-1 (last week: 20)

The flux of news talking about how many people want to add the Cardinals’ Johnson to their fantasy team is only slightly less weird than the fact the Dolphins need to beat that same Johnson this week.

20. Houston Texans: 6-6 (last week: 16)

The ultimate perk of playing in the AFC South, this Texans team still has a chance to get immediately knocked out of the playoffs should they squeak out a divisional title sponsored by NutraSweet.

19. Indianapolis Colts: 6-6 (last week: 23)

A lot of truth in this photo.

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18. Tennessee Titans: 6-6 (last week: 18)

The big game against the Denver Broncos this week is really more about which state-themed song you hate-love more.

F*cking John Denver and his Rockies:

F*cking Arrested Development and their horseshoes:

17. Minnesota Vikings: 6-6 (last week: 15)

The Vikings have their work cut out for them if they want people to forget about those HOT-DAMN-COLOR-ALL-DAY-ALL-NIGHT-NFL-DELIGHT-SO-COLOR-SO-RUSH uniforms from last Thursday night. (And that two-point attempt—really, more of a fiasco that hit the rafters—to tie the game in the fourth quarter.)

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Looks like the Tron outfits before they turned on the blacklight.

16. Buffalo Bills: 6-6 (last week: 12)

Another team that has experienced its share of bumps in the road, the Bills are back home this week—where the football is simply a nice digestif to all the jumping off of campers, sex and drinking things out of asses. #BillsMafia.

15. Green Bay Packers: 6-6 (last week: 20)

The Packers are like a fine cheese.

(Drops mic’, hits the salad bar)

14. Miami Dolphins: 7-5 (last week: 9)

Let’s not allow the fact that the Dolphins were destroyed last week by the Ravens keep us from enjoying probably the greatest 3:57 in cinematic/Dolphins history!

(R.I.P., Alice Drummond.)

13. Washington Redskins: 6-5-1 (last week: 11)

Top 3 things in entertainment history that you can use to describe the current health of the Redskins:

  • Eric Idle in European Vacation.
  • The dry cleaning staff in My Cousin Vinny.
  • The guy who tried to ski the K-12 in Better Off Dead.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-5 (last week: 17)

I know the uniforms make it difficult, but it’s time to start talking about this Buccaneers team as something other than an example for showing people what the hell pewter looks like.

Editor’s note: you can show them this pot, too:

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11. New York Giants: 8-4 (last week:5)

Every time someone points out what a big game, blah blah blah, the New York Giants have coming up on their own soil—like this week against the Cowboys—I’m always compelled to re-remind them that New York actually plays in New Jersey.

Huh, Eli?

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10. Atlanta Falcons: 7-5 (last week: 8)

If you have ever—and I mean just fucking once—experienced that flight from Hartsfield-Jackson to LAX, then you do not envy the Falcons this week. Trust me…someone will try to fit a goddamn stroller in the overhead bin along with six other bags.

Nightmare.

Freddy. Krueger.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-5 (last week: 14)

Yinz got a little tipsy there for a minute, stumbling and forgetting the proper Polka steps. But now that you’ve puked in the flower pot out in the lobby and drank a Sierra Mist, you’re ready to get back out there on that dance floor with that one cousin who never seems to get drunk at weddings. Red in the face? Sure. Meat sweats? Hell yes. But never drunk…

8. Baltimore Ravens: 7-5 (last week: 13)

An important battle—only slightly behind winning actual games—all-around jack-wagon, Steve Smith, won the internet last week with a Yoda onesie:

Just to seal the deal: The Hollywood Reporter doesn’t know a football player from a basket of edible underwear…that’s how much internet winning this really is.

7. Seattle Seahawks: 8-3-1 (last week: 8)

It’s going to be in the 20s this Sunday in Green Bay, there 12th Man, so you’re going to need Seattle’s Best and, well, Seattle’s best.

Oh! And long underwear, too.

6. Denver Broncos: 8-4 (last week: 5)

Most of you probably voted for John Denver.

5. Detroit Lions: 8-4 (last week: 6)

Things you don’t know about Detroit:

  • Founded by three brothers who were underage and on their way to drink in Windsor, Canada.
  • Great deals on bricks.
  • Has a Coney Island Coney Dog.
  • It gives you shits just like the other ones.
  • A lot of people fail to realize that the lake they just skinny-dipped in was neither Erie nor great.
  • That’s actually Lake St. Clair.

4. Kansas City Chiefs: 9-3 (last week: 4)

If the Chiefs can knock some of the momentous wind out of the Raiders this Thursday night—and if there is even a few specs of dust—well, then, this song and band will make a lot more sense in this post:

3. Oakland Raiders: 10-2 (last week: 3)

I’m not calling you guys dusty, for Pete’s sake. Calm down.

Here, watch this dog:

2. New England Patriots: 10-2 (last week: 2)

Tom Brady now has the most team wins (201) of any single person to ever play a team sport and what the fuck did I just say?

1. Dallas Cowboys: 11-1 (last week: 1)

This might be the most Cowboys thing ever:

Christ.

Or, well, you know what I mean.

Until next week, enjoy the games.

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