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Zero hour could conceivably come for the NFL

This column contains a piece of shocking information not suitable for all sports fans. Reader discretion is advised.

The NFL recently announced it might expand its playoff format, to perhaps allow as many as half of the league’s 32 teams into the postseason.

This was as inevitable as a Jay Cutler thrown-off-his-back-foot interception.

In America – Motto: “Capitalizing on Consumer Needs One Markup at a Time Since 1776” – you either get bigger or you go bust. 7-Eleven introduced the Big Gulp in 1980; McDonald’s began super-sizing in 1993.

In addition, the universe is expanding and, of course, eventually will explode.

Until then, a super-sized NFL postseason serves most of its fans best. With doomsday coming, who wouldn’t want to watch more games with playoff implications and more playoff games?

But a watered-down NFL postseason brings the prospect of more run-of-the-mill playoff entrants – .500 teams and the like – trying to make their way to Super Bowl Sunday.

A couple of years ago – when Sports Nation went into a full-throated froth over the fact that the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks made the postseason and actually hosted a playoff game against the 11-5 New Orleans Saints – I correctly pointed out that it was possible for a 3-13 team to qualify for the NFL postseason.

(Here’s the simple, far-fetched scenario: Each of the four teams in a division goes 3-3 within its division and loses all 10 of its out-of-division games, leaving everyone tied at 3-13 and someone playoff-bound as division champion through some labyrinth tiebreaking formula.)

But I failed to recognize a more horrifying, Nate Silver-defying set of circumstances that would reduce America to a heap of “SportsCenter”- strangling rubble.

Rather than split each divisional home-and-home series, all divisional games could end in an overtime tie. Meaning it is technically possible – yes, technically, theoretically, improbably and impractically possible – that every team in a single division could have a 0-10-6 record.


Do you realize the implications of this?

1. Skip Bayless would have to undergo electroshock therapy.

2. Short of a constitutional amendment – or emergency congressional legislation – this means a team that is winless during the regular season could become Super Bowl champion.

I repeat:

A winless team could win the Super Bowl.

And I thought the MLS’s aggregate-goal playoff format was the ultimate New World joke.

On the bright side, this offers a slither of hope for, say, Chiefs or Raiders fans.

In other less-sobering NFL news….

It’s an acquired skill, getting less out of your team than you should.

Time now for our annual Reverse Coach of the Year – a.k.a. the Norv Turner Award – counting down those underachieving NFL honchos who lose when they should win or lose even more than they should.

At No. 5 is our old, mustachioed friend, the Eagles’ Andy Reid, who deserves better. At No. 4 is the Chargers’ Norv Turner himself – the all-time leader in Reverse COY countdown appearances – who, at this point, couldn’t coach a cow to moo. At No. 3 is the Saints’ Sean Payton, who oversaw his team’s collapse from a Best Buy flat-screen showroom somewhere in southeastern Louisiana. At No. 2 is the Jets’ Rex Ryan, who acts like the second coming of General Patton and leads like the second coming of “F Troop.”

And at No. 1? If you take a team from 10-6 to 4-11 and you throw a challenge flag even though you know throwing it will wipe away any replay review, that’s professional malpractice, which makes the Lions’ Jim Schwartz the Reverse Coach of the Year.

When a Hall of Famer moves on, it’s hit-or-miss in finding someone to step into his shoes.

Number of starting quarterbacks the Dolphins have gone through in effort to replace Dan Marino, who retired in 1999: 17 (Damon Huard, Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, A.J. Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill).

Number of starting quarterbacks the Colts have gone through before finding replacement for Peyton Manning, who left team after 2011 season: 1 (Andrew Luck).


Ask The Slouch


Q. Were the Blue-Gray or North-South college football games ever canceled during the Civil War? (Todd Deane; Halfmoon, N.Y.)

A. I want to say yes, but watching “Lincoln,” I could’ve sworn I heard Lee Corso on one of the White House TVs in the background.

Q. How can Maryland pay $52 million to leave the ACC when it can’t afford seven sports it cut in June? (W. Wolf; Dagsboro, Del.)

A. Maryland math.

Q. The Mayans were full of it, no? (Aaron Epstein; Spokane)

A. Prognostication is an art, not a science.

Q. Do you find people are asking you questions just for the $1.25 so they can avert their own fiscal cliff? (Mark Pattison; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay the man quickly, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!