For a good portion of the decade, there has been lousy football coming from the same three teams. The Cleveland Browns (0-16) had their last win in the 2016 season with Johnny Manziel as their quarterback. That feels like a lifetime ago already. The Chicago Bears (5-11) have notoriously been a two or three win team ever since losing the NFC Championship in 2010. Then comes the San Francisco 49ers (6-10) who has had a roller coaster ride all decade. Ever since losing head coach Jim Harbaugh the 49ers’ wins have been lacking.
The Bears and 49ers have already reached out of bottom feeder status as of last season. It’s no coincidence that acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo and Mitch Trubisky have helped tremendously. All three of these teams are currently heading in the right direction. The biggest question mark lies on the Cleveland Browns, coming from zero wins last year. Cleveland possibly has the most impressive roster we’ve seen in a very long time. Even four wins from the Browns would be considered a successful season at this point. With these teams currently on the rise to success, there can only be three new teams to take their place. What new franchise will take the dishonor of being the new bottom feeder?
1. Cincinnati Bengals
Only one thing prevented the Cincinnati Bengals from being the worst team in their division last year: the luxury of sharing the division with Cleveland. Last season definitely exposed some holes in Cincinnati’s arsenal. The Bengals missed every opportunity to pick up any top rated free agents to patch any of those holes. Most teams are becoming a running back by committee, and the Bengals have the same mentality. Between Jeremy Hill, Giovanni Bernard, and Joe Mixon they’re not sure which RB to use. The answer seems obvious: go with Mixon. There should be no doubt that Joe Mixon will eventually become a great running back. It will take longer to see results when he’s only allowed eight carries a game.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay has some pretty great weapons on their team. Mike Evans has always been a top wide receiver each year. Gerald McCoy and Kwon Alexander have been crucial pieces that can provide help on any team in the NFL. Jameis Winston has proven himself as a good franchise quarterback. He has the unfortunate circumstance of sharing the same division with Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan. Winston is young and has plenty of time to hone in his talents. Despite all the pro-bowlers on the roster, the Bucs still have not been able to click into gear. Perhaps the blame should fall on the coaching staff. Tampa Bay is high on their first-round pick Vita Vey, a defensive tackle from Washington. Vey has high regards but still doesn’t fix their running back problem after releasing Doug Martin.
3. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins have lingered on the border of bottom feeders for quite some time. Ryan Tannehill will be returning from his ACL injury this upcoming season. The Dolphins continue to believe in Tannehill being their starting QB, despite Adam Gase not achieving much success with him. Tannehill has fewer weapons to work with since Jay Ajayi and Jarvis Landry are no longer on the team. Minkah Fitzpatrick was a great first-round choice in the draft. Even the DB from Alabama won’t be able the save the problems Miami will face in the near future. Miami has a window of opportunity to build once Tom Brady retires from the Patriots. The competition will be severe as the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets are doing the exact same thing. With the Dolphins allowing their best players to be traded, there is a high probability that they could be the worst team in the NFL this coming season.
Everything was set in order for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Coming off two losses from the Bay area is nothing new for LeBron James and the Cavs. Their mentality was to ignore the media, shake off the pressure, and bring in a big W at home. Things were looking in the Cavaliers’ favor all the way to halftime. Steph Curry was having a very uncharacteristic off night. A completely different look from a record-breaking Game 2 for Steph. The Warriors’ struggles meant nothing for Kevin Durant, as he scored 43 points to help achieve the win on the road.
Cleveland looks dead in the water at the moment. No matter how much LeBron flexes his athletic ability, the Cavs continue to fall short. Go back to Game 1 when King James scored an incredible 51 points and still came up with a loss. Nobody can say that LeBron didn’t put up an effort in front of his home crowd. Even after scoring a triple-double on the Warriors, it still wasn’t enough to secure the win. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, LeBron’s numbers weren’t a match for the destruction that Kevin Durant left behind at the Quicken Loan Arena.
Golden State has a strange problem on their hands at the moment. Do they go for the four-game sweep for the extra accolade towards their legacy? Would it be wise to allow the Cavs one win in the series to give the Warriors a rest? At least they would be able to win the championship in front of their fans at The Town. The safest bet would to just win it all right away. With LeBron James as an opponent, he has the capability to tie the series quickly. We’ve all witnessed it happen once before when the Cavs were down 3-1. LeBron receives quite a lot of criticism during his career, but one thing that people can not deny is the man never gives up. The coffin may be closing on Cleveland for this year’s Finals, but make no mistake they will be fighting to stay alive in Game 4.
The NBA Finals will always give us consistency. LeBron James seems to always be there, the crowd noise will always be loud, and the memes will always be golden. Last week Game 1 ended with LeBron James’ frustration towards JR Smith. Can’t blame the guy when putting up a career-high 51 points and still losing in overtime. Now with the Cavaliers down 0-2 in the series, a video has surfaced to catch a glimpse of Cleveland’s bench.
A quick recap of what is shown in this video: absolutely nothing. The game was in commercial break before overtime, and the faces reveal more focus than frustration. There isn’t a viral video of what the Warriors bench looked like after JR Smith’s folly play. Rest assured it most likely wasn’t full of high fives and celebratory hugs. The game wasn’t over, and that’s what was on every player’s mind during that moment.
The crucifixion of JR Smith is a little over-embellished. Don’t be mistaken, he made a terrible decision; there’s no doubt about that. Smith claims that he thought the Cavaliers were going to call a timeout. Even if that were true, Golden State still could have forced a turnover. Hypothetically, if LeBron or JR took a game-winning shot there’s always the possibility the ball misses. If Warriors get the rebound, they still had four seconds to make a play. Simply chuck the ball to Steph Curry and let him work his magic. Nothing was guaranteed for Cleveland to win that game. The irony is how JR Smith becomes the martyr, but no one blames Hill for missing the last free throw.
The grumbles of JR Smith lingered into Game 2 of the Finals. Golden State fans used it as fuel as they mocked JR with their MVP chants at the free throw line. Nobody on the Cavaliers roster can take the blame for losing Game 2, however. It’s hard to win when Steph Curry is on the court making history with 10 three-point shots in a single NBA Finals game. Tack on the fact that it’s almost impossible to beat the Warriors at Oracle Arena. Only the Houston Rockets have been able to put that accomplishment in their resume in recent years.
Now the Cavaliers get a chance to try to dig themselves out of the hole they’re buried in. Shake off the critical backlash that has been hovering over JR Smith and allow LeBron to play some of the best basketball we’ve seen him play. Being back in front of the home crowd of Cleveland should help ease the tension that’s built around them. It might be a wise choice for the Cavaliers to avoid social media for a while. Otherwise, they’ll have to face the constant reminder of the picture which has blessed us with one of the best meme formats of the summer: