There are several guarantees in life: death, taxes, and the NFC East teams playing in primetime TV spots for all of America to see.
No matter how bad of football they’re playing, the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, and Washington are on full display, and it’s never looked as abysmal as this year.

Here are the current standings:

  1. Eagles: 2-4-1
  2. Football Team: 2-5
  3. Cowboys: 2-5
  4. Giants: 1-6

And for the most part, they’ve looked bad in the games they’ve played. Thursday night was the creme de la creme of 2020 NFC East football- it included Daniel Jones tripping over himself after breaking free for a sure-fire touchdown and the Giants blowing a lead to an anemic Eagles team who did nothing until the fourth quarter to win by the skin of their teeth. Year after year, the NFL puts these “big market” or “historic” franchises in the nationally-televised slot and we’re all forced to watch them (yet we still do, because, you know, it’s football. As fans we are hogs that will eat whatever slop is in the trough.)

Checking the schedule on your phone to see what game is being played in primetime and seeing it’s another matchup between the NFC East is like when you go trick-or-treating only to be handed miniature Tootsie Rolls- it’s merely “filler candy” that you still will likely eat, but you’re entirely disappointed. The NFC East teams are the Tootsie Roll tier of football.

So, in the spirit of Halloween being this weekend, let’s group teams into watch-ability tiers, only they’re based on Halloween candy.

The King-Size Bar Region // The Chiefs, Seahawks, Packers, Ravens, and Steelers

You approach the house in the neighborhood with multiple stories in a gated community, walk up to their spiral driveway, bag in hand, and after you say the magical phrase, “trick-or-treat” they bestow upon you a Reese’s, a Snickers, or perhaps a Twix with two all-powerful words donning the wrapper: family size. That’s how it feels watching any of these teams.

You’ve got Patrick Mahomes making side-arm throws. Russell Wilson throwing the prettiest deep ball in the league. Aaron Rodgers and Big Ben still leading their teams to possible Super Bowl runs by dropping dimes. Lamar Jackson running heading a speedy run-heavy offense as reigning MVP in front of a thunderous Ravens defense.

They’re just as beautiful of football to watch as it is to be graced with candy of that magnitude.. As long as the Seahawks aren’t wearing those “action green” uniforms.

The “Hipster Candy Bar” Region // The Panthers, 49ers, Dolphins, and Cardinals

Everyone has opinions when it comes to the best and worst Halloween candies, and every once in a while people will throw out candies like Butterfinger, Milky Way, or maybe even a 100 Grand as their claimed favorite. While these may be delectable candies, they’re definitely not the heavy-hitters that are the conventional favorites. That’s where these teams fall. Many thought the Panthers would be one of the bottom teams in the league this year with the amount of turnover on their roster, a new head coach, and an injured Christian McCaffrey, but Teddy Bridgewater has over

performed and made them a fun team that competes even in their losses at 3-4. The Cardinals have no defense, but the Kyler Murray-DeAndre Hopkins connection has led their college-style offense to heights ahead of schedule for such a young team and they’re off to a 5-2 start. The Dolphins have been hanging in tough and winning some games with Ryan FitzMAGIC after tanking last year; we’ll see how they do now after their rookie Tua Tagovailoa is now the starter. Their new rookie along with being competitive in the division for the first time in a while makes them even more intriguing.

Finally, the Niners were expected to regress after a Super Bowl hangover and having their entire roster plagued with injuries, but Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme is so foolproof that their best players are dropping like flies only for him to replace them with backups and get the same amount of production with Jimmy G, a relatively-average quarterback. They’re no dominant “Reese’s-esque” powerhouses, but you have to appreciate what they’re doing on the field.

The “Unpopular Opinion Candy” Region // The Colts, Bills, Titans, Bears

There’s a shortlist of candies that if you openly admit to liking to the public, your peers look at you as if you just admitted to committing a murder with a sense of pride, and you know what? I happen to enjoy a few of them. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Give me all of your Twizzlers, Circus Peanuts, or York Peppermint Patties. I will gladly eat them all for a buy-low price when we’re trading candy after trick-or-treating. 

That’s how a lot of people view watching these teams – they may be playing good football, but no one seems to like to watch the way they actually play because it isn’t the flashy, electric style one would attribute to a team like Kansas City, for example.

I say these teams are my Twizzlers. I love watching the Titans run the ball, with smash mouth and tough football headed by Derrick Henry bullying defensive lines. The Bears offense is unwatchable, but the defense is so dominant that it’s fascinating to watch them force the other offenses to use their left hands. Josh Allen can make some of the ugliest decisions as a game manager, but his rocket arm makes the Bills a roller coaster to watch. Philip Rivers and the decrepit remains of his 38-year-old throwing arm always seem to be in a game where the last two minutes are a hard-fought, one-score game. This “ugly” or “unpopular” brand of football teams need to be televised more just as we need the people who also happen to enjoy the candy pumpkins and licorices of the world to take a stand and admit it.

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The “Good because of quantity candy” Region // The Saints, Buccaneers, Rams, Browns, Raiders

There’s another category of candy that, while I’ll admit, they are good (some of them great, namely M&M’s), they’re in large part good because of their larger quantity in terms of fun-sized candies. You get a lot more bang for your buck in a package of Dots, gummy bears, or Skittles than you would out of the single bite of a Krackel.

Which leads us to these teams that we very frequently see on TV- the Saints, Browns, and Raiders have ravenous fan bases and big names playing and are playing competitive football, the Rams have the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, new uniforms, a $5 billion dollar stadium, and a very fast-paced team headed by a young boy genius coach in Sean McVay, and the Bucs have Tom Brady now (enough said).

These teams are in “big games” frequently, and that has much to do with them playing at the level that they are, but that doesn’t necessarily make them the most “watchable” teams- just high-quantity. 

The “Large work for little reward Candy” Region // The Chargers, Bengals, and Texans

This is a direct shot at the Starbursts and Hershey Kisses of Halloween: the candies that have the extra wrapping only for a small quantity of deliciousness in the end. It’s unnecessary and ultimately devalues the end result. I love watching Justin Herbert in those beautiful Chargers uniforms, Joe Burrow making magic happen outside of the pocket as he avoids a massive pass-rush, and Deshaun Watson front-flip into the endzone on a rollout scramble. They’re all absolutely delightful quarterbacks that I hope to contend for MVP’s for years to come as the torch is passed on to their generation.

But you know what the ultimate results are for these dynamic players? Losses. The Chargers still find a way to lose even with Herbert lighting it up, the Bengals are trying to murder Joe Burrow by allowing him to take as many hits as he does behind that offensive line, and the Texans have traded away the rest of their team around Watson, including their future draft picks next season, leaving him to suffer alone.

LA is 2-4, Cincy is 1-5-1, and Houston is 1-6 despite all of these teams still looking relatively competent in their games. They’re an exciting watch with nothing to show for it in the end.

The Reese’s Pieces Region // The Lions and Falcons

These two franchises have dealt with enough highs and lows that they were deserving of their own region. Allow me to explain why they’re Reese’s Pieces: Reese’s Pieces on paper is merely the delicious combination of peanut butter and chocolate in a candy coating. Peanut butter M&M’s are the exact same three essential components, but they somehow are infinitely better than Reese’s Pieces. I don’t know how the inventor of Reese’s Pieces can sleep at night knowing they should have a top-tier candy like peanut butter M&M’s and they just fell short.

That’s how watching the Lions and Falcons goes. They have the components of a great team but just miss the mark. Atlanta has blown three leads with a 98% or higher win probability this year. The Lions, already one of the losing-est franchises of all-time, blew a 17-point lead week 1 following a season with multiple blown double-digit fourth-quarter leads.

When Atlanta faced the Lions last week and blew a lead to them I thought the universe might end.

They both deserve to be playoff-caliber teams but fall flat year after year with heartbreaking losses.

The “If You Pass This Out We’re Fighting” Region // Jets, Jaguars, Broncos, Vikings, Patriots

Yes, the NFC East may be terrible football and could very well qualify for this region, but we’ve become accustomed to their comedy or media coverage for so long that it’s good theatre. This region lacks that. It consists only of despair. It’s the feeling you get when you get a Mounds Bar. It’s the feeling you get when you reach into your bag and feel what feels like a top-tier candy bar and it’s a Three Musketeers. It’s the feeling you get when you get handed raisins, or what the terrible people of the world know as “nature’s candy.”

I’m sorry, but these teams leave you with no desire to watch them on television, just as the Jaguars and Jets have no desire to field a winning team and would rather tank the season for Trevor Lawrence in the NFL Draft. The Broncos and Vikings could have been exciting on paper, but the Broncos are too injured with Von Miller out and the Vikings are just depressing because everyone on the team hates the quarterback, Kirk Cousins. The Patriots are just the evil empire and are not only depleted from COVID and losing, but they play a boring brand of football, too. There’s no thrill.

If you thought I was joking about the NFC East, take a look at next week’s slated Sunday Night Football game!
Hope you’re ready for Cowboys-Eagles to kick off November, everyone!

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