Commentary

Which team is NFL's worst, Bengals or Lions?

The 0-6 Bengals are No. 32 in total offense, but the 0-5 Lions' defense can match that ranking -- and their offense is lousy too.

Originally Published: October 16, 2008
By | ESPN.com

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T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad JohnsonNelson Chenault/US PresswireThere have been few bright spots for receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson and the Bengals, who are ranked last in the league in total offense.
It's a dubious distinction no team covets. Still, it's a question that must be answered: What's the worst team in the NFL?

There are plenty of candidates worthy of consideration. The St. Louis Rams surrendered at least 31 points in each of their first four games, all losses, before shocking the host Washington Redskins in Week 6. The Oakland Raiders, who were two fourth-quarter collapses from a respectable 3-1 record, responded to coach Lane Kiffin's firing with a 31-point loss in replacement Tom Cable's debut. And the Kansas City Chiefs followed their first victory of the season with a 34-0 loss.

But as our panel of experts considered teams for debate, there were two candidates that were unavoidable.

Bengals: They make the Lions seem decent

The Cincinnati Bengals are back to being the Bungles, and that's short for being the worst team in the NFL.

They are so bad that thousands of fans are selling their tickets this week before a big rivalry game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, proving that all hope is lost for 2008 -- and it's only Week 7.

This is all for good reason.

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Cincinnati is in the midst of the longest losing streak -- six games -- of coach Marvin Lewis' six-year tenure.

Statistically, the Bengals are dead last in the NFL in total offense. And that's considered the strength of this team!

Sure, the Detroit Lions (0-5) are bad, but they're not Bengals (0-6) bad.

Detroit lost its starting quarterback and actually got better, nearly upsetting the Minnesota Vikings on the road this past week. When starting quarterback Carson Palmer (elbow) is out of the lineup, as he is now, the Bengals don't have a chance.

There was a big to-do over the firing of Lions general manager Matt Millen recently. Well, at least the Lions had a GM to fire. Cincinnati doesn't believe in GMs, and that could be a common link to why the team has only one winning season in the past 18 years.

This group of Bengals can't run the football (ranked No. 31). With or without Palmer, Cincinnati can't pass (ranked No. 27). The defense can't carry the team, and the kicker (Shayne Graham) has been out with a groin injury.

What's worse than that?

-- James Walker, AFC North blogger

Detroit LionsAP Photo/Duane BurlesonNot much has gone right for the 0-5 Lions or defensive coordinator Joe Barry, whose unit is ranked last in the NFL.

Lions: No stars in this review

Here's a fun game to play with your friends. Name five good players on the Detroit Lions. Just five.

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• Week 7 Power Rankings
There's receiver Calvin Johnson, of course. Linebacker Ernie Sims is well-respected. Center Dominic Raiola won't embarrass you. Neither will left tackle Jeff Backus. And then there's Roy Will… oh, wait. Not anymore.

It's simple: The NFL's least-talented roster makes the Lions the worst team in football. Seven years under president/general manager Matt Millen have left them in need of a serious personnel influx. They'll eventually get a boost from Tuesday's trade of receiver Roy Williams, but for now, his departure has further undermanned the team.

Even with Williams, the Lions were 0-5 and ranked near the bottom in every important statistical category. Their offense ranks No. 30, two ahead of their dead-last defense. They can't run (No. 30) or stop the run (No. 31), and their quarterback is still learning the dimensions of the end zone.

Yes, quarterback Dan Orlovsky -- who has replaced injured Jon Kitna -- got a bit disoriented Sunday at the Metrodome. As he scrambled to his right, Orlovsky heard the whistle and saw that play had been halted. He stopped, looked down and realized he had run three yards out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

You've heard of teams beating themselves? Ultimately, the Lions' margin of defeat Sunday was two points: 12-10. Case closed.

-- Kevin Seifert, NFC North blogger