(Not sure what the Spike Factor measures? Read the full explanation.)
Week 10 in the NFL started ugly, with the Bengals pulling the football equivalent of renting a manual transmission car and saying "eh, I've never driven stick but I'm sure I can figure it out" against the Browns last Thursday. It also concluded ugly, thanks to Ron Rivera's commitment to play Cam Newton late in a blowout even while he was obviously hurting. You can't succeed hurt if you don't practice hurt. That's just basic football. Now get over here so Coach Rivera can kick you in the side of the knee.
And it all added up to the worst league-wide Spike Factor week this year, with close to 36 percent of all offensive plays gaining no positive yardage. There's a lot of bad offense out there, so just keep your head down and try to stay safe until the playoffs.
CARLOS SANTANA SMOOTH TEAM OF THE WEEK
Even the good offenses have problems. The Browns posted a Spike Factor of 26.67 percent in that win over the Bengals, but they have one of the NFL's least efficient running attacks. The Cowboys (Spike Factor of 25 percent) handled the Jaguars easily and have good weapons, but Tony Romo's back is literally broken. And Seattle, this week's Santana Smooth Team of the Week thanks to their 24.59 percent performance against the Giants, is getting very average play from Russell Wilson this season.
So basically everything's bad and will always be bad. You're welcome.
THE ALMOST WORST
Where to begin? The Bears didn't gain any yardage on 40.3 percent of their plays against the Packers, which is somehow the nicest way to describe that game, because it makes no mention of the Chicago defense. The Rams were slightly worse at 43.86 percent in their loss to the Cardinals. Even more inefficient were the Eagles, who failed to move the ball forward on 46.55 percent of the plays they ran, though it didn't stop them from doubling up the Panthers. None of them were close to the spikiest game of Week 10.
THE TETANUS SPIKE
If you watched the game, this number may actually seem low to you, but by our calculations, the Bengals ran 63 plays against the Browns and only 27 of them gained positive yardage. That's a Spike Factor of 57.14 percent, but the really impressive number is Cincy's Spike Factor in the second half alone. They trailed 17-3 after the first two quarters, a deficit but not an insurmountable one. They responded by advancing the line of scrimmage on 12 of the 32 plays they ran in the last two quarters.
That's a failure rate of 62.5 percent. What are you even doing, Bengals?
RACE FOR THE S.S. TETANUS
The Cardinals still hold the lead on the season-long battle for offensive inefficiency with a Spike Factor of 38.16 percent, but three bad teams (Jacksonville, Tampa, Oakland) and one good one (Philadelphia) are all still within closing distance. There are definite land mines awaiting for all of them. Arizona still has two games against the Seahawks. Jacksonville has two against Houston and one Baltimore game left. Philly has a weird stretch of Dallas-Seattle-Dallas, and Oakland is making a serious run at 0-16.
Or maybe some other team that's not in this pack will completely melt down. Not saying it's you, Buffalo. But it really could be you, Buffalo.