No one who watched the San Francisco 49ers get themselves folded, spindled, and mutilated last night in San Diego dared to think, "Hey, that looks like a playoff team there."
And yet, due to the historic lack of competition in the NFC West, the Niners -- at 5-9 -- are still in the hunt for the division crown.
This prompts the question: Will the eventual winner of the division be the worst playoff team in history? We posited that inquiry to Artie Gigantino, a former college and pro coach who also worked as an Oakland Raiders broadcaster for a decade.
Sadly, he punted. "I don' t know if you can assess that." He was happy to opine, however, that even if a losing team makes the playoffs, the system shouldn't be re-jiggered. "I'm not in favor of ranking the teams; in other words, the best six teams go," he says. "You have to have something to play for in a division. The NFL runs in cycles, and right now the NFC West is not very good. When I coached with the Rams and Bill Walsh was coaching the 49ers, it was the best division in all of football."
Times have changed -- as has the city in which the Rams play, incidentally.
Okay, so Gigantino doesn't want to talk about whether the NFC winner will be the worst postseason football team since creation. Fine. Will an NFC West team win a playoff game this year?
"No!" bellows the former coach. "Hell no! Are you kidding me?"
So there you go.