The Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers are all 0-5. Needless to say, these three fan bases are probably the three most distraught groups of football fans in the world at the moment. What better way to both commiserate and re-invigorate our competitive juices by debating which team is the worst?
Today, the fine folks at Niners Nation and Cat Scratch Reader, as well as the awesomeness that is y'all here at Buffalo Rumblings, will be diving into the debate of which of the NFL's three winless teams is the worst. Each blog will present their argument at home, meaning you'll need to check out NN and CSR for the cases that our resident 49ers and Panthers communities are making for their teams. After the jump, you'll find my case for the Bills being the league's worst team.
One last note: this poll is shared between all three blog communities in a best-effort to remove bias and get a true gauge on which team sucks hardest. Debate fiercely; this may be the only thing we win all season.
Five Reasons Why The Buffalo Bills Are Much, Much Worse Off Than San Francisco and Carolina
Reason No. 5: Our 0-5 Start Is More Pathetic Than Theirs.
If there's a "more spectacular" way to start 0-5, the Bills have found that way. In losing their first five games, the Bills have been outscored by 74 points - a deficit 16 points higher than Carolina's, and 20 points higher than San Francisco's. One of those losses has been by fewer than ten points, a number matched by Carolina and exceeded by San Francisco (three). Two of Buffalo's losses have been by 21 or more points; San Francisco has two such blowout losses, as well, while Carolina has been within 17 in each of their five games.
Buffalo is getting blown out more frequently, and participating in fewer close games, than either of their winless counterparts. Thus, our 0-5 style defeats your 0-5 style.
Reason No. 4: It Is Harder To Fail When You Meet Expectations, Rather Than Fall Short Of Them.
Entering the 2010 season, San Francisco was predicted by many to either win the NFC West outright, or at the very least to seriously compete for a playoff spot. While Jed York still believes his 0-5 team can win the division, the odds are minimal, at best. Still, this team was well thought of entering the new year.
The expectations were not as lofty in Carolina, though after Matt Moore's encouraging performances to close the 2009 season, many prognosticators expected the team to rally behind John Fox in a division that crowns a new champion every year. Watching them fall flat on their faces has not been nearly as surprising as San Francisco's slow start, but there is certainly disappointment in the air.
Buffalo has been on the clock since April. We've been through this experience before, seeing a Bills team expected to contend fail to meet expectations, and while I'm certain 49ers and Panthers fans would rather meet expectations than fail miserably, I would argue that meeting the expectation of being a terrible football team is infinitely more depressing over the long haul. At least 49ers and Panthers fans could discuss "the possibilities" over the summer.
Reason No. 3: The Quest For A Quarterback.
Carolina has a clear leg up on San Francisco and Buffalo in that, no matter your views on Jimmy Clausen as a prospect, they've spent a first- or second-round pick on a quarterback within the past five years. They may not be set at the position, but they do have some semblance of direction. The objective me argues that the 49ers' absurdly drawn out Alex Smith experiment trumps anything that has transpired in Buffalo; imagine the Bills entering the 2010 season with J.P. Losman as its starting QB - that is what 49ers fans feel right now.
But I just can't argue that San Francisco's quarterback situation is worse than Buffalo's; let's call them equally pathetic. Where Buffalo has had seven different quarterbacks lead the team in passing since 2000, the 49ers have had five. Both teams last had a signal-caller make the Pro Bowl in 2002, when Drew Bledsoe battled Jeff Garcia in Hawaii. Neither team has any semblance of a long-term future at the position right now. There's no reason to claim that one of these situations is worse than the other; these are the two most pathetic quarterback situations in the NFL. Disadvantage, Carolina.
Reason No. 2: Longevity Of Dysfunction.
Well, let's see here. I'm going to go ahead and assume that five Super Bowl championships can somewhat dull the ache of a seven-year stretch without the playoffs. Maybe I'm romanticizing the idea of winning a championship, but I find it hard to believe that 49ers fans really get what it's like to root for a terrible organization. When the going gets tough, they can tune out the present and focus on a glorious past; our "glorious past" is the butt of jokes everywhere.
I'll also take the liberty of assuming that Carolina fans can at least recall what the playoffs taste like, having been there less than two full seasons ago. I think Bills fans would kill four for a playoff appearance every four years, but I won't berate Panthers fans for feeling a little angry about their situation; as lauded as John Fox is by some, he's on his way to a sixth at-or-below-.500 season in nine with Carolina.
Buffalo has missed the playoffs for ten straight seasons, going on eleven. They have finished above .500 once since the Music City Miracle. I'd go on, but I don't have to - even 49ers and Panthers fans will admit that Buffalo's been the worst for the longest amongst these three franchises. It's not even debatable.
Reason No. 1: Lack Of Organizational Direction.
Let's be honest - none of these three franchises have much semblance of direction. Panthers fans loathe Jerry Richardson and John Fox at the moment. 49ers fans have watched in wonderment as a solid-looking duo of Scot McLoughan and Mike Singletary has imploded, with McLoughan no longer with the organization and Singletary exposed as a fiery figurehead minus the substance needed to be a coaching success. I don't want to take anything away from those fan bases here, because they're as lost as we are.
They just haven't been as lost for as long, and their future prospects are far less scary. We forced Bill Polian out of the organization, for the love of the gods of football. We watched Tom Donahoe market our team right into the basement of the league, then cringed as Marv Levy, of all people, attempted to pick up the pieces. He forgot a few, left the organization after two years, and then Buffalo operated for two more without any chief front office decision-maker to call the shots. The 49ers and Panthers have been runty chickens; our chicken didn't have a head. The head it has now, Buddy Nix, may not have a clue what he's doing. On top of it all, Ralph Wilson is 92 years old, and the future of the franchise in its current locale will very much be in doubt without proper planning on our beloved owner's part.
That's it. Case is stated. Be sure to check out Niners Nation and Cat Scratch Reader for their takes on this Losers Summit, and make sure you vote in the poll!