If the old adage is true and misery loves company, then NFL fans are in luck following Week 10. Coast to coast, division to division, you’ll find plenty of pain and suffering to go around. While it’s unwise to declare a season over and done before Thanksgiving, it’s not too early to panic or feel a blood-pressure spike on Sundays.
Misery in sports often accompanies unmet expectations, and the gridiron is currently littered with them. Certainly, very few (sane) observers anticipated the Carolina Panthers going 15-1 in back-to-back seasons; but a three-game win streak may also be too much to ask right now. The Panthers were on the prowl last Sunday, ahead of Kansas City by 17 points late in the first half. Cam Newton was feeling so good that he resurrected the dab for a cameo appearance when he became the franchise leader in career rushing touchdowns. That was before Eric Berry returned an interception 42 yards for a score and before Marcus Peters snatched the ball away from Kelvin Benjamin with 20 seconds left, setting up the Chiefs game-winning field goal. You want misery? How about a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter and a room in the basement of the NFC South?
The New Orleans Saints aren’t last in the South anymore, yet their fans have every reason to feel a bit squeamish this week. They rattled off four victories in five games and appeared to have the Denver Broncos right where they wanted them on Sunday. Drew Brees fired a bullet to Brandin Cooks for the tying touchdown inside the final 90 seconds, and it looked like the Saints would overcome four turnovers against the reigning champs. They only had to kick the extra point to take the lead. Except the PAT was blocked by a rookie leaping over the long snapper, and the ball was returned 84 yards for the defensive two-point conversion by another rookie. Ouch. Instead of being above .500 and tied with Atlanta in the loss column, New Orleans is feeling the burn.
The South isn’t the only region sulking after Week 10. The San Diego Chargers keep finding creative and painful ways to lose. They desperately need to keep pace with the rest of the AFC West for a shot at the postseason. Instead, they continually choke away their opportunities. Against the Miami Dolphins, Philip Rivers threw a trio of interceptions in the final quarter, one of which Kiko Alonso returned for a touchdown. Talk about feeling sick to your stomach. In five of their six losses this season, the Chargers owned the second-half lead. Each of their losses has come by single digits, none by more than eight points. With every other division rival sitting on seven wins, San Diego is in dire straits.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were in desperate need of a W when they hosted the Cowboys last Sunday. And after three consecutive defeats in which they couldn’t generate more than 16 points, they were finally in a groove. Thanks to a quick start, 400 yards and four touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell producing and padding their stats, the Steelers were actually in front with 42 seconds left after a fake spike turned the Dallas defense into a mannequin challenge. But the Pittsburgh D offered minimal resistance to Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott with the clock winding down. The rookie running back trucked his way to a third score and slapped the Steelers with another loss in astonishing fashion. Despite high expectations, they’re now below .500 and embarrassed.
You can spot the misery everywhere you look. The Vikings were dubbed serious Super Bowl contenders after a 5-0 start, but they’ve now dropped four in a row. At least they’re ahead of the Packers in the NFC North who gave up 47 points(!!) to the Titans and find themselves in third place. Green Bay can’t hit rock bottom in the division because the Bears are stuck on two wins with their top wide receiver now suspended four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. The Jets are trying out Bryce Petty at quarterback. The Jaguars are the complete opposite of the breakout team many expected. And the Niners are losers of eight straight in Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach.
None of these sob stories holds a candle to Cleveland, though. The Browns threaten the break the misery meter. Along the way to the worst start in franchise history (0-10), they became the first NFL club since 2011 to use three QBs in the same game. They have far more problems than Hue Jackson and the front office can address in a single season.
If it’s true that misery loves company, at least very few football fans are lonely after Week 10. There is a silver lining to every cloud.
A well-traveled veteran and pioneer of sports radio and television, Amy Lawrence is the host of CBS Sports Radio’s late-night program ‘After Hours with Amy Lawrence.’ The show can be heard weekdays from 2-6am ET on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. Follow her on Twitter @.