Arizona has lost four of its past five games, allowing 37, 48, 35 and 47 points. Its only win during that period was over St. Louis, a 2-13 team. And if it doesn't beat 4-11 Seattle at home Sunday, it will finish 8-8.
Do we really want these guys in the playoffs?
Same for some of the other teams we will see in the postseason: Minnesota or Chicago; Tampa Bay or Dallas; Denver or San Diego, one of whom will win the AFC West? Heck, even the embarrassing Jets with the embarrassing Brett Favre have a chance to get in.
For a number of years, there have been suggestions from some teams (usually ones just on the outside) to increase the number of teams qualifying for the postseason from 12 to 14 or even 16. For a number of years, thankfully, a majority of owners have decided the current number is just fine.
This year, 12 may be too many because the random ways of division alignment are producing playoff teams that don't belong.
In the NFC, the East and South are relatively loaded, with the last place teams each 8-7. But the North and West are mediocre and dismal.
"Right now, we aren't what we were," Kurt Warner said after Arizona lost 47-7 to Bill Belichick's Patriots. "If we're happy with winning the division, then that's all we'll do."
Here's a very easy prediction: that's all the Cardinals will do.
That's because they are the beneficiaries of the nature of division alignment that has them grouped with the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers (6-9).
You can argue that San Francisco, 4-4 since Mike Singletary took over as coach and installed Shaun Hill at quarterback, might have won the division if the Singletary-Hill combination had been in place from the start.
But that would have provided just another mediocre playoff team.
In the AFC, the West is awful; the North and South strong at the top; and the East a mystery — a division in which the Patriots, champions the past five seasons, could get left out with an 11-5 mark even though they are playing better than anyone in the division.
The only positive thought: Belichick sitting in front of his television set watching an 8-8 team (or two) struggling through the postseason.
How did we get here?
Blame the random nature of division alignment (see above). Plus bad coaching, bad luck and referee Ed Hochuli.
But not injuries. Yes, the Chargers' defense struggled without Shawne Merriman, but the Giants lost their equivalent, Osi Umenyiora, during the preseason and are 12-3 with home-field advantage in the NFC against a much tougher schedule than San Diego endured. And Tennessee beat Pittsburgh on Sunday without Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch, its two most heralded defensive linemen.
Let's start with Hochuli, who in the second week of the season blew a call that took away a late fumble recovery from the Chargers and ended up handing the Broncos a 39-38 victory. If San Diego had won that game, maybe it wouldn't have spent the season struggling to get to .500.
But the Chargers, notably president Dean Spanos and general manager A.J. Smith, are as responsible as anyone for their team's underachieving.
After a 14-2 season in 2006, they fired coach Marty Schottenheimer, who is sixth on the all-time wins list but was/is 5-13 in the playoffs.
The Chargers hired the milder and more compliant Norv Turner, who had been San Diego's offensive coordinator in 2001. Dallas, meanwhile, hired Schottenheimer's defensive coordinator, the laid-back Wade Phillips.
Which brings us to the Cowboys, who managed to close Texas Stadium with a loss that dropped to 9-6 a team that was supposed to be the NFL's most talented. Then they lucked out when everything broke right for them Sunday and put them back in the lead for an NFC wild-card spot.
Phillips is doing a wonderful job of calling defenses. But the face of the team is owner Jerry "Coach" Jones or Terrell Owens.
The Cowboys continue to cling to a scenario that makes them this year's Giants — a team that sneaks into the playoffs and goes on a run to win the Super Bowl. But there's a huge difference — last season's Giants were an unselfish and well-led team.
The NFC field will be the battle-hardened Giants at the top with either Carolina or Atlanta at No. 2. Indeed, the Panthers, the conference's second-best team, could slip to No. 5 if they lose Sunday at New Orleans.