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NFL Watchability Scale: Read Before Consuming Jaguars Football

You've seen it for the NBA, now consume it for the NFL. Scott Howard tells you which teams are worth watching and which ones will probably put you to sleep.

In case you're curious, yes, this is an almost direct rip-off of an NBA piece written by SB Nation's own Mike Prada last week. Despite calling the Suns paper-thin last season and looking for the second shooter on the grassy knoll with regards to the Hedo Turkoglu trade (which made Suns fans consider the merits of tar and feathering), Prada came up with a great idea here.

Imitation is the fondest form of flattery, right? Or at least it provided me with a sweet opportunity to not have to think about my own idea. 

If you haven't picked up on it yet from reading my Shakespeare-level work, I'm a bit of an NFL junkie. I've had NFL Sunday Ticket since I've been able to afford it on my own and I put two TVs in my living room so I could watch DirecTV's RedZone Channel (not the shitty NFL RedZone thing you cable hobos have) and another game. I also own jerseys of Josh McCown, Marcel Shipp and David Boston. Just thought that warranted a mention.

The criteria for this watchability scale are simple:

  • How aesthetically pleasing is their style of play?
  • Are their players good?
  • But since good is never enough, are their players interesting? How about dynamic?
  • Is it hard for you to look away if they're on the television machine?
  • It's for the 2010 season. So while the Bills were awesome to watch when Jim Kelly was running the show, they will now burn your eyeballs.
  • It kind of helps to be a trainwreck.
  • And as always, whatever I say goes. Maybe you're a huge fan of defense, but I'll take a 37-34 game over 6-3 any day of the week.


32. Carolina Panthers

I definitely appreciate the fact that they had a comeback win over the Niners yesterday, but nothing about this team is pretty. In previous seasons, when the defense was good and the offense was predicated on the run game and good blocking, this was at least a good team that was boring to watch.

Now that the Panthers have inexplicably lost the ability to run and the disgusting two-headed monster of Maimmy MoClausen (Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen) is running the show, pretty much everything about this squad is unwatchable. You don't get to last in the NFL in passing yards per game by being aesthetically pleasing.   

Steve Smith is still good in theory, but in reality he's a 31-year-old receiver who seems to be playing out the string on an awful football team.

31.  Jacksonville Jaguars

I was going to rank these guys incredibly low even if they had a healthy David Garrard. As far as I'm concerned, they were actually more watchable with the basically deceased Todd Bouman in at quarterback on Sunday.

They may be 3-4 on the season -- which is respectable -- but they play a nearly unwatchable brand of professional football. Frankly, it's been like that for a while.

Since Jack Del Rio took over as the Jaguars head coach in 2003, Jacksonville has actually posted a 60-59 record and had a 12-win and 11-win season. None of this makes them watchable.

I like Maurice Jones-Drew plenty, but I charge you to name the dynamic quarterback or wide receiver Jacksonville has had since 2003. Spoiler alert, it's not David Garrard or Byron Leftwich.

30. Buffalo Bills

Quick, name me five players on the Buffalo Bills. Okay, fine ... I know that's a difficult assignment. Instead, name me three. How about two? Still no?

The days of Jim Kelly are long gone; hell, the days of Doug Flutie are long gone. Who are we kidding here? The days of Terrell Owens in Buffalo are long gone.

Unless you went to Harvard and enjoyed the football stylings of Ryan Fitzpatrick, you cannot possibly find a reason to love this red-headed stepchild of a professional football franchise. At least they played the Ravens close yesterday.


29. Cleveland Browns

If you like exciting return men, this is the team for you. Pretty hard to look away when Josh Cribbs is returning a kick or has the ball in his hands.

Unfortunately for the Browns, the past few seasons have been dotted by QB play from Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace and now Colt McCoy. Yup, that's a real list.

But hey, they beat the Saints and don't forget Josh Cribbs! 


28. Washington Redskins

Donovan McNabb really deserves more respect. First, he's thrown out of Philly and then he's got jerks like me calling him and his team blah. Guess that's all five NFC Championship game appearances and a Super Bowl berth will get you.

I'm not sure that there's a more boring top receiver than Santana Moss.

27. Chicago Bears

I asked Jay Cutler to write me a paragraph for the Bears, but he had trouble remembering his own name and then his pen got intercepted.

Those are the kinds of jokes you can expect here at SB Nation Arizona.


26. Seattle Seahawks

I've watched Seattle get out to a 4-2 start and they've failed to impress me at any point.

Matt Hasselbeck is nothing more than a decent game manager who doesn't make huge mistakes anymore, Marshawn Lynch is decent but doesn't deserve all the compliments being thrown his way, and the defense is nothing to write home about.

The smoke and mirrors leading to Seattle's start is locked up in their special teams. Leon Washington returned two kicks for touchdowns to singlehandedly defeat San Diego in Week 3, while in yesterday's game against the Cardinals, Seattle recovered two return fumbles that led to 10 points and the ultimate difference in the game.

Gotta do what you gotta do to win games.


25. Arizona Cardinals

What does someone do with a team they are horrifyingly biased for? Well you just put them in their own category. After watching the Max Hall abomination today, I'm not sure I could put them any higher. Hard to respect an offense that is completely incapable of moving the ball, even one with Larry Fitzgerald

Without a viable quarterback option -- which this team clearly lacks -- it almost defies expectation to expect this team to remain in the division race. But they probably will anyway.

Yes, I'm bitter.


24.  New York Giants

When the Giants limped off to a 1-2 beginning to the season, it looked like this team might end up sucking; three straight dominant wins changed that.

The G-Men win their games by getting to the quarterback over and over and over again (21 times this season leading up to tonight) on defense and running the ball with Ahmad Bradshaw on offense. Now that Bradshaw is the top back in New York, he's having his breakout year with 582 yards, but you didn't know that. You know why? He's boring as hell.

But don't forget Eli Manning. No, it's okay, you can forget Eli Manning. He's the worst good quarterback in the league.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers

Like in most years, the Steelers are more than capable of playing a dominant brand of defense. Their MO is pretty simple: play great defense, run the football, and, when necessary, run a little play action with the morally suspect Ben Roethlisberger.

To the Steelers' credit, this particular strategy of football has been incredibly successful. Problem is, it doesn't frequently result in a whole lot of points or exciting plays. Unless you call James Harrison cheap shots exciting, which you might.

There are a whole lot worse fates than being boring and good. 

22. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have basically followed the same model as Pittsburgh and have followed it to a similar amount of success. I suppose, based on Ray Rice being slightly more exciting than Rashad Mendenhall, and my Anquan Boldin over Hines Ward bias, I'll go Ravens. Barely.

21. New York Jets

At this point, go ahead and name what the last few teams in this category have in common. You guessed it: they're the top teams in the NFL.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the Jets play an stout brand of defense and have a slightly less than dynamic ball-control offense. There are definitely some potentially exciting weapons on the J-E-T-S in the form of Braylon Edwards, LaDanian Tomlinson (for now), Shonn Greene and Santonio Holmes, but what really makes this team entertaining is the general handsomeness of Mr. Steamy Latin Looks, Mark Sanchez.

He's definitely not a good NFL quarterback yet, but whenever a QB has that much undeserved hype, it makes the game watchable to root for them to fail. 


20. Oakland Raiders

It's certainly a little strange to call a team that just hung 59 on a division rival a trainwreck, but excuse me for not jumping on the Raiders bandwagon after the last eight years.

If you're into the pure comic relief side of watching NFL teams, then you'll probably enjoy the "wide receiving" done by last year's top 10 pick Darius Heyward-Bey (23 catches in a season and a half). If somehow that isn't enough for you, then the Raiders have a head coach who looks like he'll shank someone in a bar fight and an owner whose face looks like a Halloween mask.

19. San Francisco 49ers

How many teams can boast two number one picks and a Heisman Trophy winner at the quarterback position? Oh, I guess that's not a good thing.

Outside of putrid QB play, it's pretty fun to watch Mike Singletary play dress up as a professional coach. After nearly two-and-a-half seasons, my biggest problem with Samurai Mike isn't the ridiculous stop watch or whistle that he wears; no, my friends, I've been trying to figure out why he bothers wearing a headset on the sidelines. They've got to be playing elevator music into that sucker.

18. Dallas Cowboys

Seems a bit ridiculous that a team so flush with talent would be a trainwreck, but seriously, have you seen these guys this season?

Obviously everyone is going to blame Tony Romo no matter what he does (and he's led Dallas to the fourth-best passing offense in football), but that's ridiculous. The problems for this team lie in a complete inability to commit to the run, along with a coaching staff that the players seemingly couldn't respect any less.

The lack of respect for the coaches clearly extends to the Dallas discipline, as they average more penalties per game (12.4) than any team in the NFL. That's something to be proud of. 


17. Denver Broncos

Kyle Orton is second in the NFL in passing and Denver has the threat of everyone's all-time favorite college QB in Tim Tebow. However, as exciting signal-callers go, Orton doesn't fit the bill unless he's got the neck beard in full effect.

Denver also features a cavalcade of no-name wide receivers and would normally boast Knowshon Moreno running the ball if he wasn't regularly injured.

The defense might have been worth watching if sackmaster Elvis Dumervil hadn't suffered a season ending injury prior to the season.

16. Cincinnati Bengals

On paper, this team should have a ton of stuff you'd want to watch. They've got former Pro Bowler Carson Palmer, two wide receivers who've been featured on a combined three VH1 shows, and a former felon in Pac Man Jones. But as is sometimes the case, this squad is just better on paper.

At this point in their careers, T.O. and Ochocinco are quite a bit more bluster than ability. But the real problem is Palmer.

Since suffering an elbow injury in 2008, Palmer has yet to regain his Pro Bowl form and provides a serious hindrance to the flow of the Cincinnati offense when he's skipping passes five yards wide of his mouthy wideouts. But maybe there is a bit of hope, as Palmer went for 400 yards in yesterday's loss to the Falcons.

15. Atlanta Falcons

Speaking of the Falcons, at 5-2, they currently have the best record in the NFC. Does this make them exciting? It almost certainly does not.

Aside from having a couple position players in Matt Ryan and Michael Turner -- whose names sound like auto-created guys on a season of Madden 11 -- this is just one of those offenses that gets the job done when it needs to, but isn't going to get your motor going. Don't get me wrong here, I like Roddy White and it's impossible not to love Tony Gonzalez, but Ryan as a field general is about as exciting as an above-average accountant.


14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This one is for you guys more-so than it is for me. I already watched Josh Freeman spend three bowl-less years with my alma mater Kansas State, but I suppose it's tough to deny that the dude has excellent physical skills.

At 6'6" and 250, Freeman is basically the alpha physical specimen when it comes to quarterback bodies (aka the anti-Max Hall) and in his second season, he's beginning to come around in the way of complete passes and touchdowns.

While I couldn't possibly believe in the 4-2 Buccaneers less (and yes, I realize those are famous last words with Tampa coming to U of P next week), the development of Joshua T. Freeman has made it clear Tampa has its QB of the future. 

13. St. Louis Rams

If you're interested in the maturation process of a young quarterback then this is a pretty solid team to watch. Certainly the 2010 #1 overall pick Sam Bradford is a work in progress and some of his games will be more impressive than others.

Case in point was Bradford's 23 of 45, 215 with a pair of picks performance against Detroit in Week 5, followed up by and 18 of 31 for 198 and a score in a win over San Diego a week later. It's not always going to be perfect, but the guy can make all the throws.

Bonus points for having one of the most underappreciated running backs of the last five years in Stephen Jackson.


12.  Kansas City Chiefs

With Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster and Jamaal Charles running the football, this team has one incredibly exciting dimension. Jones can bash in between the tackles while Charles and McCluster can get outside with ease.

All in all, this team leads the NFL in rushing after six games and is a real treat to watch in that facet of the offense. Unfortunately, there is all sorts of Matt Cassel business going on when they throw the ball.

Before Chiefs fans get all in a tizzy about Cassel's relatively efficient season to this point, I'll admit he's been decent so far this year. Problem is, he's asked to do almost nothing and hasn't managed to get a talent the level of Dwayne Bowe involved in the offense to the level he should be.

Definite mark in the plus column for KC having coaches like Todd Haley, Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis.


11. Detroit Lions

This is a team that, despite their 1-5 record, has basically been in every loss they've suffered this season. Calvin Johnson is in the top tier of wideouts in the NFL and Javhid Best is a rookie runner with a ton of potential. Once Matt Stafford gets back on the field (if ever), they promise to get even more interesting.

But the wins haven't been there. Not yet. 

Watching a Lions game this season is kind of like watching a roadrunner v. coyote cartoon, where Detroit is the coyote. You know they're going to get close to their prey with their fine ACME products, but ultimately they'll fall just short of the goal. Or run into an enormous brick wall.


10. Minnesota Vikings

My advice for watching any Vikings game is just to play a drinking game with the announcers. The rules are easy: any time Brett Favre makes an incomprehensibly bad decision that the men in the booth refuse to criticize him on, drink. If they attribute such poor decision to his "trying to make things happen like he has so many times before," finish your drink.

This team should definitely be better than it is considering Adrian Peterson, a great offensive line, Percy Harvin, Randy Moss and a bunch of defensive talent, but ... it isn't.

What's almost as fun as watching Brett Favre make ridiculous mistakes is watching Brad Childress attempt to manage a game while wearing a headset that makes him look like a telemarketer.

Oh and dong shots. It's fun to watch announcers sidestep the issue of dong shots.


9. Tennessee Titans

When he gained 2,000 yards last season, Titans running back Chris Johnson became just the sixth guy in NFL history to do so. For an encore, CJ hoped to gain 2,500 yards. I don't like his chances.

While Johnson is still pretty awesome, defenses are definitely keying on him a quite a bit more this season and he's likely going to have to adjust expectations to just 1,500 yards. What a slouch.

Considering the chains are on Johnson, things have been opened up a bit more for Vince Young, who has become quite the winner in his professional career, but doesn't have quite the flash he did in college.

8. Miami Dolphins

Maybe it's the infield that stays on Joe Robbie Pro Player Dolphin Land Shark Sun Life Stadium until the Marlins are done playing baseball or maybe it's that they play a bunch of a night games, but this team just strikes a chord with me.

In a time when they had quite a bit less offensive talent, this was the team that made the Wildcat offense en vogue for the NFL. Miami still has Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams -- the backs that made that offense possible -- but now has Chad Henne's big arm going deep to newly acquired Brandon Marshall.

Henne is still far from perfect (see his three INT game against the Patriots on Monday Night Football), but he's got the ability and weapons to help the Dolphins win big and in exciting fashion.

7. Houston Texans

Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are probably one of the sexier hook-ups in the NFL, so you'll get to delight in that. See Johnson's game-winning grab against Kansas City or his game-tying catch against Washington for more information.

But with the addition of Arian Foster, the Texans actually have a legit third head for their very own triplet offense. Basically nobody on the planet had heard of Foster before the season, but now he's third in the NFL in rushing and averages 5.5 yards per carry. Yawn.

What probably detracts from the Texans is the fact that they'll turn in random stinker performances in bunches. I won't be able to confirm this, but I think it's because they signed a contract with the NFL that doesn't allow them to make the playoffs for their first decade.

6. San Diego Chargers

Yes, they're 2-5 and yes, their special teams is a disgusting mess on a historic level, but man oh man can these guys move the ball.

Phillip Rivers has been without his number one receiving target Vincent Jackson for the balance of the season (he'll eventually return), but that hasn't stopped him from leading the NFL in passing yardage and helping San Diego to the NFL's top offense.

Take pleasure in watching Antonio Gates work, because no matter how much a team may concentrate on him, they guy still manages to get open.


5. Green Bay Packers

Injuries to Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley may have taken a significant amount of bite from the Packers offense, but there are still a number of threats at Aaron Rodgers' disposal.

Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson can still get open pretty much constantly and Rodgers doesn't ordinarily struggle to find them. Rodgers completed over 60% of his passes in the first four games of the season and though he failed to reach that goal consecutive losses to Washington and Miami, he returned to that mark in last night's win over Minnesota.

Each of the three Packer losses this season have been by three points -- two in overtime -- so even if they lose, they're going to put on a show.

4. New England Patriots

I swear to God that during the first half of the Patriots/Dolphins Monday Night Football game, when the Pats were trailing 7-6, I thought to myself that New England was done. Now who feels stupid? Yup ... me, again.

Obviously, the Patriot offense is no longer the aerial circus it was during the undefeated regular season in 2007, but it's still quite potent and it's still got three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady running the show.

Randy Moss may have been dealt to Minnesota, but Deion Branch took his place and seems to still have strong chemistry with Brady. Add in Wes Welker and a pair of rookie tight ends and the Patriot passing offense can still impress.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

I should caveat this as based exclusively on Michael Vick, because well, it is almost entirely based on Michael Vick. The reason it's difficult for running quarterbacks to succeed in the NFL is because defenses are just too damn fast. None of that seems to matter with Vick.

In just four games this year, Vick has thrown for nearly 800 yards, six touchdowns with no interceptions, and rushed for 187 yards on just 26 carries. If he's on the field, you just can't look away.

On the other end of things, they'd be a bit lower on the list with Kevin Kolb as the QB, but Andy Reid has already declared Vick his starter for the Week 9 date with the Colts.

Even when Vick's not awesomeing around, the team still has DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy.


2. New Orleans Saints

Let me first say that I know that New Orleans lost to the Browns at home by a bunch of points yesterday. I'll grant you that. But you still don't want to miss this team.

The offense has been spotty without Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, but once those guys get back in the lineup, you'll quickly see a return to the offense that helped the Saints win the Super Bowl last season.

Like the other three teams on this list, what defines the Saints is their future Hall of Fame quarterback who is at the peak of his powers. Though Brees is struggling with a knee injury and has had a pair of subpar games (Arizona and Cleveland), he's still thrown 14 touchdowns and I don't think anything will stop him from taking big chances downfield.

1. Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning.

Though he doesn't (yet) have all the passing records and he has only one Super Bowl win, for my money, Manning is the best quarterback in the history of the game. There, I said it.

If you want to watch someone run an offense pretty much exactly like an offense is supposed to be run then Peyton is your guy.

Reggie Wayne is a strong weapon catching the ball, but Manning has managed to make all sorts of random pass catchers into dominant forces. You think Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie would be household names if they were on the Bears? Think again until you come up with the right answer.

When I watch a Colts game, I'm not even sure why they bother with an offensive coordinator or head coach, Manning seems to have it all covered.