Nobody wants to hear their favorite NFL team is done before they've purchased a holiday-themed squash product.
Given how much time and attention you've invested in your preferred franchise, this can be a profoundly depressing realization. This was supposed to be the year your team made the leap. This was supposed to be the season your devotion paid off.
But it won't. And that sucks, but you deserve to know. Look at us like a friend who delivers the grim news that your significant other is cheating. We take no pleasure in serving as the messenger -- I mean, you thought Terry was The One -- but you deserve to know the truth. Blissful ignorance is overrated.
Over the past three weeks, the Around The NFL Podcast has stuck a fork in 11 teams who we believe no longer have a realistic path to postseason play. This is not about mathematics, but rather a feel for these doomed teams and a look at what lies ahead. If we're wrong about any of them -- and it has happened in the past -- we'll make a financial donation to a local charity of that team's home city.
So yeah, consider this a pessimistic piece of work infused with an altruistic spirit. POTENTIALLY. Here's who we've given up on so far.
FORK'D AFTER WEEK 3
Thoughts: No regrets/concerns about this group. The Lions actually spooked me a bit because of the talent on offense, but they remain winless two weeks later and their best defensive player is now headed for hip surgery. The Josh McCown-led Browns are up to two wins and are generally frisky, but c'mon, it's the Browns. These are all flawed teams that will be fortunate to finish 6-10.
FORK'D AFTER WEEK 4
Thoughts: Our move to bury the Raiders might seem premature, but remember this decision was made shortly after Oakland failed to beat a previously winless (and Fork'd) Bears team with a limping Jay Cutler behind center. As a group, the decision was made to no longer take the Silver & Black seriously. The Texans are playing a perverse game of musical chairs at quarterback that will cost the franchise another year of J.J. Watt's prime. We Fork'd the Dolphins on the same day Stephen Ross Fork'd Joe Philbin? COINCIDENCE? Yes, it was.
FORK'D AFTER WEEK 5
Thoughts: We hesitated on quitting the Ravens on account of their semi-recent Super Bowl pedigree, but losing to a previously Fork'd team is an unforgivable sin around these parts. I believed the Chiefs had a recovery in them after a brutal schedule stretch, but Jamaal Charles' knee injury sent hope scurrying out of the room.
BUT WHAT ABOUT ...
Yes, there are several other attractive Fork candidates out there. The Jaguars are 1-4, but Blake Bortles is playing well and the Colts aren't the lock AFC South winner we once thought. (It's the same reason we haven't counted out the mediocre-but-compelling Titans.) There might not be a single good team in the NFC East, but that's precisely why we can't rule out the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Redskins ... for now, anyway.