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NFL panic index, Week 6: The Bears’ no-win quarterback situation

Chicago’s quarterback situation is basically the same as the 2016 presidential election.

Chicago Bears v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We don’t know if Bears coach John Fox owns any Izod red sweaters, but he’s as decisive about his QB situation as the breakout debate star is at figuring out who he’s voting for in the presidential election.

Earlier this week, Fox said the Bears “don’t have a plan.” (He also said the media should stick to their “hot dog-laden press box,” so despite both living in Illinois, Fox lacks the Midwestern pleasantness emanating from Bone.)

Never mind that Jay Cutler is hurt. Brian Hoyer is the only one who has led the Bears to a win this season. He’s completing a personal-best 71.4 percent of his passes, has thrown six touchdowns, and hasn’t been picked off once, which must be an unusual sight for Bears fans.

In less than two games, Cutler has fumbled three times, he’s been sacked eight times, and he has tossed three interceptions and only one touchdown. Oh yeah, and at least former teammate is publicly ridiculing him for not being a leader.

When Cutler’s thumb is healed, he should stay on the bench until the Bears dump his contract this offseason. Hoyer’s not a long-term answer, but at least he’ll get you through the season.

Sure, no one wants to pick between two wildly unpopular candidates. But this is the hand that’s been dealt, and looking at it logically, this should not be a difficult decision.

Panic index: Like splitting your pants, but you have a backup outfit ready to go. Sure, it’s frustrating, but even if Hoyer doesn’t inspire much confidence, the QB position is pretty low on the list of things Bears fans should be worried about. Much like what goes into politics and hot dogs, just try not to think about it.

The Broncos defense can’t always save them!

UPDATE: Keep panicking! The Denver Broncos lost their first game of the season to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5. For the first time since Dec. 20, 2015, the Broncos’ stingy defense couldn’t cover up for a lackluster effort from the offense. The same thing happened again on Thursday night.

Denver can’t get its running game going, and for the fourth week in a row they couldn’t break the 100-yard mark. When you run an offense that relies on the play action, you kinda need a running game that threatens opponents.

Quarterback Trevor Siemian returned for his least impressive start of the season. He threw 50 passes for just 230 yards, 4.6 yards per attempt.

Denver’s defense was expected to be strong enough to carry the offense this season, and they couldn’t against the Falcons. They were better on Thursday, but the Chargers were able to neutralize the pass rush with quick passes, and they exploited the middle of the Broncos defense with a heavy dose of Melvin Gordon and rookie tight end Hunter Henry.

Panic index: There’s plenty of season left, but the division looks wide open for the Raiders and maybe the Chiefs and even Chargers now.

The NFL’s ratings are nosediving

Media companies have spent $57 billion for the rights to air the NFL going into the early part of the 2020s, according to Bloomberg. Those companies could possibly be regretting this, as the league’s ratings are down double digits.

Ratings are down across the board. They’re down on Sunday afternoons on both Fox and CBS, Sunday nights on NBC, and Monday nights on ESPN. Now, there could be plenty of reasons for this: the election, protests, how games are spread across platforms like phones and tablets, a lack of recognizable stars, and ho-hum primetime matchups. No matter what, though, it’s not a great look for the league, which has started to put the clamp down on its own team sites sharing highlights and GIFs.

Panic index: If this year’s ratings were an NFL team, they’d be off to a 1-4 start. Luckily, there’s still time for them to rebound, especially after Nov. 8. If not, hey, next year’s draft class is deep, so more marketable stars are right around the corner.

The 1-4 Jets maybe aren’t in “the perfect position”

The Jets are 1-4, but wide receiver Brandon Marshall didn’t seem terribly upset about the team’s record, saying after Sunday’s 31-13 loss to the Steelers that the team is in “the perfect position.” Unless it’s a good thing to lose three straight and to be sitting at third in the AFC East, that may not be entirely accurate.

At least Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t throw any interceptions against the Steelers, which was a nice change of pace, but the Jets’ defense let Ben Roethlisberger throw for 380 yards and four touchdowns. The Jets face the Cardinals this week, and Carson Palmer should be back from a concussion he suffered in Week 4. Heading into a game against Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson with a 1-4 record — and with two games against the Patriots still left on the schedule — doesn’t sound at all like the Jets have the rest of the NFL right where they want them.

Panic index: Not perfect. The Jets are still ahead of the Miami Dolphins, but they’re in a division with the Patriots and the Bills, and it’s awfully unlikely they’ll soar back from a 1-4 start to improve upon last season’s 10-6 record and make the postseason. And now that No. 2 receiver Eric Decker is on injured reserve, the Jets’ luck doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

The Chargers are cursed

UPDATE: Maybe not! Despite some concerns that the game could slip away from them, the Chargers held on to beat the favored Broncos on Thursday night, 21-13. Rivers and Co. monopolized 17 minutes of the first half on just two drives. The defense kept the heat on the Broncos, and nobody on either side of the ball messed up enough to blow another late lead.

The San Diego Chargers made the mistake of ticking off an evil witch or perhaps accidentally not forwarding a chain email because, frankly, they are about as cursed as a team can get.

You can be a Lions fan and lament how you always get screwed, and you can be a Browns fan, and well, that doesn’t need any more explanation. But as a Chargers fan? You better start getting your good luck charms piled up and mail them to the front offices in San Diego.

Last week’s loss to the Oakland Raiders is just one of many unfortunate losses the Bolts have taken this season. Look at Week 1 vs. the Chiefs. They were in the lead, 27-10, with less than 13:30 remaining in the game and they lost. Week 3? They have the lead over the Colts, 22-20, with two minutes left and they frickin’ lost. Week 4? Up over the Saints 34-21 with just over eight minutes left in the contest and the Saints scored twice in the final five minutes. Yes. The Chargers lost.

And then, of course, was the game last week when they couldn’t stop a third-and-10 and followed that up by watching the Raiders score on a 64-yard score. Oh, and then they botched the snap on the field goal to tie in and — you guessed it — they lost.

This all goes back to 2015, too, when the Chargers finished with a painful 4-12 record but lost games they probably should have won in Weeks 5, 8, 9, and 16 and one that they could have won in Week 17.

The Chargers are cursed. Like Jahleel Addae decided to run rampant in a house of mirrors kind of cursed. Like you bought a rabbit and its feet were already turned into keychains for other teams kind of cursed. Like every game day when every player on the Chargers roster head to the stadium, a pack of feral black cats runs across their path kind of bad luck.

Panic index: Perhaps the curse is lifted!