Lacking decent teams, NFL should sack playoffs

December 07, 1992|By Ron Rapoport | Ron Rapoport,Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- Could we just cancel the rest of the Nationa Football League season?

Pull the plug on it, I mean. Send everybody home, tell them we're sorry for the inconvenience and we'll try again next year?

Is there a law that says there has to be a Super Bowl every season? They close Broadway shows when they turn out to be stinkers, don't they? Banks go into receivership when they run out of money.

Tell the truth. Can you ever remember an NFL season as bad as this one? One that has featured so many truly bad teams and so few good ones?

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating. Perhaps you think I have RTC seen too many Rams and Raiders games this year and it has colored my outlook. Well, if so, then here is my challenge to you: Name all the really good teams in the NFL this year.

San Francisco? Dallas? OK, that's two. New Orleans? Perhaps, but as a veteran Saints-watcher, I think we should ask one thing before admitting them to the league's highest echelon. I think we should ask them to win just one playoff game.

And that's it for the NFC, isn't it? The rest of the teams just can't cut it, can they? The state of the conference is so deplorable that even the good teams -- the ones that were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders -- are bad.

Remember how Washington, Philadelphia and Detroit were supposed to be the teams to beat? Remember how the Bears and the Giants looked to be contenders?

But if it's a real black hole you are looking for, may I recommend the AFC. Team for team, it may be the biggest disaster area in football.

Do you see even one excellent team in the AFC? All right, I'll give you Pittsburgh. Now let's have a look around.

Buffalo, the class of the conference in the early going, has just suffered back-to-back losses to Indianapolis and the New York Jets. Miami, which opened the season with six straight wins, has now lost five of its last seven games.

Denver has lost three straight since John Elway went down with a shoulder injury and there is no certainty he will return before the end of the season. Houston has lost Warren Moon and three of its last five games.

And these are the good teams. The teams that point up what a bad year the Raiders picked to come up with a weak team themselves.

Another one of those good teams is Kansas City, although you couldn't prove it by the way it played in the Los Angeles Coliseum yesterday. The Chiefs had won four straight, but as you watched the Raiders beat them, 28-7, you didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh because the Raiders handled the team that was leading their division so easily or cry because their chances of going to the playoffs are so slim.

The Chiefs fumbled and stumbled. They slipped and slid. They gave the Raiders great field position all afternoon. They were, in a word, awful. They are, to repeat, one of the best teams in the AFC.

The Chiefs are not one of your fancy football teams. Their quarterback, Dave Krieg, has averaged only 162 yards passing per game. The Chiefs make their living on the ground, which is why the fact they gained only 17 yards rushing against the Raiders yesterday captured their attention.

"We hold the key to our own destiny," Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer said when asked if he were concerned about how the rest of the AFC West had made out yesterday. "We can't worry about anybody but us."

A full-time job if ever I heard one.

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