by Vinny Varvaro
As Week 6 in the NFL gets into full swing on Sunday, some teams have already booked flights and hotels for a January 2, 2017 departure and others are delaying those plans until the completion of tomorrow’s games.
The Done List has become populated with teams who just don’t have the record or any intangible to get them over the hump to make the playoffs. So far this list consists of: Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers.
The Browns are staring straight into their yearly dreadful, non-playoff campaign. Even rookie head coach Hue Jackson can’t sell the team on a “any given Sunday” approach as Cleveland (0-5) has virtually no “gimme” game to look forward to. The circus that is/was the quarterback position that defined the 2016 season early, will continue with rookie QB Cody Kessler if he’s healthy. If not, the fans that fill First Energy Stadium will pin their dog-faced hopes on Kevin Hogan or Josh McCown. They’re done. Final record prediction: 1-15.
Another team with erratic, if not plain poor quarterback play is the New York Jets. The signal caller play has over-shadowed a good performance by new Jet, Matt Forte. With their 1-4 record and New England doing what they always do, along with a scary Buffalo ahead of them in the AFC East, the Jets are simply classified as done. Final record prediction: 7-9.
The Niners (1-4) are making that inevitable change at QB by starting the svelt kneeler, and once Super Bowl starter, Colin Kaepernick. Social issues aside, he is the best option to run stubborn Chip Kelly’s read option offense. It’s too little, too late. Final record prediction: 4-12.
The defending NFC champion Panthers (1-4) could be suffering from Super Bowl hangover, but they just look out of sync in all facets. It seems when Josh Norman bolted for D.C., the defense lost that edge. Cam Newton is currently waiting to be cleared from concussion protocol, but even when he wasn’t being assaulted, er hit, he wasn’t his normal self. With Atlanta sitting atop the NFC South at 4-1, the Panthers would need to finish 10-2 to win the division, as a Wildcard team won’t emerge from this division. Final record prediction: 4-12.
The 1-4 Bears are a mess. Brian Hoyer has taken over the quarterback duties while Jay Cutler nurses his bad thumb. When ready to return, is it even worth it for Chicago? Cutler is most likely out of the Windy City at season’s end. With two games remaining against the NFL’s newest darlings, Minnesota, and the always dangerous Packers, it is unlikely a playoff push is possible. Final record prediction: 5-11.
The Must Win or Be Added to the Done List teams are the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals. The players on these teams have told their significant others to go ahead and plan that vacation, but just don’t book the date as yet.
The Chiefs (2-2) travel to the Las Vegas, I mean, Oakland Raiders to meet the first place Silver and Black. With a win, they can move to within one game of the top of the AFC West and give the Arrowhead faithful some hope. This is the first step for KC to gain some ground to the top of the division, but they still have to play Denver twice (2 times in the final 6 weeks), Oakland once more and an unpredictable and scary San Diego team.
Another rookie head coach, Ben McAdoo of the 2-3 New York Football Giants, enters Week 6 on the hot seat (the fans, not ownership) and in last place all by their lonesome in the NFC East. That 2-0 start seemed so long ago and a loss at home to an always dangerous Baltimore Ravens team tomorrow will certainly gain membership to the Done List next week.
Speaking of hot seats, Marvin Lewis of the Bengals seems to be on one, but it’s usually the yearly, lack of success in the post season one. Entering Week 6 with a 2-3 record may not seem to be desperate, but a loss at New England is imminent. Even with a favorable schedule after this week (home games against Cleveland and Washington, then at the Giants), this “Weekend in New England” could be the season for the Bengals.
It might seem early to finish off these teams so early, but given the way they have underperformed thus far, it’s not too early to say some are done and some are desperate. On a positive note, fantasy football owners can count on these teams to play from behind a lot and thus produce some garbage points.
See, a negative can always be turned into a positive if you look real hard.