Posted: Wednesday November 16, 2005 3:17PM; Updated: Wednesday November 16, 2005 3:18PM
Want to argue about the NFL? Let's go ...
Bad luck, bad team or a little of both?
USA Today has dubbed 2005 "The Year of Adversity" in the NFL, claiming several teams have had "unusually hard" luck. While there has been the usual handful of injuries, most of the bad luck has been blown out of proportion.
In many cases, teams aren't losing for the reasons everyone seems to think they are. Let's look at the supposed hard-luck cases:
Philadelphia Eagles Headline: The Terrell Owens fiasco and Donovan McNabb's injuries have sunk the Eagles. Truth: The Eagles have won without Owens before and they've won when McNabb was injured. I think the main difference in the Eagles this season is the improvement within the NFC East. Philly is 4-2 outside the division, with losses at Denver and at Atlanta -- two tough places to win under any circumstances -- and 0-3 against the NFC East.
Green Bay Packers Headline: How can they win without Javon Walker and Ahman Green? Truth: The Packers are the same middle of the road team they were last year. With Walker and Green, they're an 8-8 team. Without them, I think they're going to be 6-10 or 7-9.
St. Louis Rams Headline: Injuries befall the quarterback, receivers and head coach. Truth: Read Michael Silver's piece in Sports Illustrated about in-fighting between Mike Martz and upper management. This team was falling apart before Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Ike Bruce got hurt, and before Martz left with a heart infection. Front-office tension has crippled their ability to bring in the right personnel to match the coaching staff. The Rams' championship window closed a couple of years ago.
New Orleans Saints Headline: Hurricane Katrina. Truth: OK, that's probably behind the Saints' demise. But let's face it, this team was no better than 8-8 under any circumstances.
New York Jets Headline:Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler went down. Truth: 'Cmon, you knew Pennington wouldn't last this season. And Jay Fielder coming off the bench isn't Unitas filling in for Morrall. The Jets might have survived those losses and at least been a .500 team, but offseason losses on the offensive and defensive lines have killed them.
Minnesota Vikings Headline: Love Boat scandal, injuries to Matt Birk, Daunte Culpepper and Fred Smoot. Truth: The scandal has actually turned out to be a good thing. Finally, this team seems to have some focus. The injuries have hurt them, but you can't discount the loss of Randy Moss either.
New England Patriots Headline: Injuries, injuries, injuries. Too many to list in this space. Truth: Haven't we heard this before? Why are this year's injuries so much worse than last year's? How soon we forget all those Hank Poteat stories. One of the problems is that their offseason acquisitions – which are usually perfect – missed the mark this season (Chad Brown, Monty Beisel). Besides, this is the last team anyone should worry about. They'll probably win the AFC East and beat the Colts by two touchdowns in the playoffs.
-- Andrew Perloff (3:20 p.m.)