The preseason is almost upon us, which means torturing ourselves and our loved ones by watching hours and hours of dreadfully boring football. But it’s worth noting, some teams are more unwatchable in the preseason than others. Hell, some teams might actually be worth looking at for more than one quarter. With that in mind, here are our preseason watchability rankings.
32. New England Patriots
No one has more open contempt for the preseason than Belichick. I know this because I watch a Pats preseason game every year, and each time, it’s slightly more unbearable than the last. Brady doesn’t play, the Patriots offense doesn’t show anything, and the whole time, you just want it be over. As does Belichick. The worst part is, since the Patriots are *The Patriots*, they have at least one preseason game on TV every year. And every year, I trick myself into thinking it’s worthy of my time. I’m fairly certain the Pats only brought in Tebow as one more way of torturing the misguided fools who watch them in the preseason. What other explanation could there be.
31. Baltimore Ravens
30. Kansas City Chiefs
29. New York Giants
28. Cincinnati Bengals
27. Chicago Bears
26. Detroit Lions
25. San Diego Chargers
24. Arizona Cardinals
23. Atlanta Falcons
All of these teams have two things in common:
1. They’re completely secure in their QB situation.
2. None of their QBs are entertaining enough that you want to watch that one drive they play.
Seriously, can you imagine someone turning on a Ravens preseason game, and saying “But I just want to watch that one Flacco drive, then we can change the channel! How else are we to determine his elite-ness?!”
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Denver Broncos
20. Philadelphia Eagles
19. San Francisco 49ers
18. Carolina Panthers
17. Green Bay Packers
16. New Orleans Saints
15. Indianapolis Colts
14. Seattle Seahawks
Similar to the previous group, but with one key difference: all of these teams have QBs who are entertaining enough that you actually do want to watch that one drive they play. Seriously, even when we’re at the begging-for-crumbs stage of football season, five minutes of Cam Newton is infinitely more interesting than five minutes of Alex Smith. In this case, the Seahawks are ranked the highest because of their entertaining backup situation. Come for one drive of Russell Wilson, stay for five drives of Terrelle Pryor! On the other hand, if you’re watching a Panthers preseason game, the sight of Derek Anderson means you can change the channel now.
13. Miami Dolphins
12. Tennessee Titans
11. Buffalo Bills
Ok, this is where you degree of football fandom comes into play a bit. If you’re just a casual fan, feel free to switch this group with the last one (although I don’t get why casual fans would even want to watch the preseason). This is the “so, does this guy suck or not?” division. All three of these teams are desperately hoping their QB-who-has-shown-potential-but-isn’t-that good-just-yet can break out this year, and they don’t have to start all over again. So, while Jake Locker and E.J. Manuel don’t seem all that thrilling in the surface, in the preseason, there’s a bit of curiosity in whether or not they’ll look better than they did last year, which — for me, at least — makes this group a bit more intriguing than the “A few seconds with Peyton Manning, an eternity with Brock Osweiler” camp.
10. St. Louis Rams
Ok, I feel kinda shitty about this one, but there’s just no way around it. It’ll be great when we reach the point where a team taking a gay player with their seventh-round pick isn’t something we even give a second thought to. But we aren’t there yet. We aren’t even fucking close. So, when Michael Sam takes the field at some point in the Rams’ first preseason game, it is going to be a matter of interest. I would fucking love it if he comes in, records three sacks, and gets a thunderous round of applause. Sadly, the more likely option is that he plays ok, hopefully makes a tackle, and the folks at First Take spend a good 25 minutes trying to figure out if he was distracting anyone after bringing down the Lions 5th-string running back after a three-yard gain.
9. Dallas Cowboys
Call this the Schadenfreude Division. Move past the one Romo drive, then watch two quarters of Brandon Weeden and pray that Romo gets hurt this year. Seriously, how great would it be if the Cowboys were stuck with Weeden for the entire season, and their fans were longing for the days of Chad Hutchinson?
8. Oakland Raiders
7. Houston Texans
6. Tampa Bay Buccanneers
Mediocre quarterbacks on new teams! Is there anything more exciting?! Well, yeah, there’s lots of stuff more exciting than that, but this is the preseason we’re talking about. With the Raiders and Texans, it’ll be interesting to see, if Schaub and Fitzpatrick can play well enough to fend off Derek Carr and Tom Savage. My guess is Fitz probably can because the Texans desperately want him to be their version of Alex Smith. But Matt Schaub is almost certainly going to be 2010 Jake Delhomme, and that team is going to suck no matter who their QBs. The Texans have an added bit of intrigue in the event that Clowney looks like a beast right away. As for the Bucs, I’m skeptical than Josh McCown plays anything like he did in Chicago last year, yet intrigued that he may. Plus, we finally get to see those ridiculous uniforms in an actual game!
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Don’t get me wrong, in the regular season, this team will be dull as fuck, but as with the previous group, there’s the question of whether or not the exciting rookie can beat out the boring veteran. The team seems oddly committed to the not-very-good Chad Henne, but Bortles – who was really fun to watch at UCF – could blow him away.
4. Washington Redskins
Yeah, I had no other place to put this team. I’m desperately hoping RG3 is back to normal, and the steadily rising backlash against him finally dies down. Admittedly, in the preseason, there’s only so much risks RG3 will be allowed to take. But still, he comes out looking like his 2012 self, this will be one of the most enjoyable teams of the preseason. If we get screwed, and Jay Gruden decides not to play him at all, feel free to drop the Skins down to the very bottom of this list.
3. Minnesota Vikings
2. New York Jets
1. Cleveland Browns
Finally, the three teams with actual quarterback battles! Hey, did you know Christian Ponder is still on the Vikings roster? I totally thought he had gone to the Cardinals or something. So, I guess he has a shot at winning the job? I feel like he’s getting cut, and Cassel stays on as Bridgewater’s backup. But with three QBs all having a shot, the Vikes preseason games might remain relevant until the 4th quarter.
It feels like Jets are going to start Vick, no matter how much they claim they’re “still committed” to Geno Smith. Smith kinda sucked last year, and every second he’s in there, and the Jets go three and out, the thought of putting Vick in for three games before he inevitably gets hurt will just seem more and more alluring.
Finaly, the Browns are the most watchable because no one has any idea what to make of Johnny Football. He could be absolutely ridiculous right away, or he could be completely useless at the professional level. The hype is insane without him even taking a damn snap, and I can only assume it’ll just get worse once he actually starts playing. Then, there’s the awkward possibility that Brian Hoyer might represent a better option. My guess is Hoyer starts the first game, Manziel the second, and we get our answer from there. Either way, the Browns are the rare team who I’m legitimately exciited to watch in the preseason. Whether Manziel is brilliant or terrible, it’ll at least be fun to find out.