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Looking at the NFL upside-down

We all have a pretty good idea about what constitutes excellence in the NFL so far.

There are the New England Patriots. Then maybe a step down, there are the Indianapolis Colts -- and we'll answer that question in another week-and-a-half.

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But what constitutes rock bottom? We have four candidates. The Miami Dolphins and the St. Louis Rams, both 0-7. And the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons, both 1-6.

The Dolphins deserve some pity. There's no one left on that roster. Injuries have decimated the 'Fins. Trent Green, Ronnie Brown, Renaldo Hill. And they traded wide receiver Chris Chambers.

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The wheels have fallen off the Rams. Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Steven Jackson -- some of whom have been banged up -- are all still on the roster but you'd never know it. Pro Bowl OT Orlando Pace is also gone for the year. And Scott Linehan may be the first NFL coach fired.

The Jets are a bit of a mystery. Quarterback has been problematic but you would have thought those high offensive line draft picks would have been a stabilizing factor and kept them from this kind of disaster, especially after making it to the playoffs last season.

But my money is still on the Atlanta Falcons because of a rapidly deteriorating locker room. Rot from inside is the worst kind. The Michael Vick thing certainly got it started but new coach Bobby Petrino has apparently made it no secret that he's going to clean house and veterans, feeling like they're being thrown under the bus, are bailing on him. After Petrino cut DL Grady Jackson, DB DeAngelo Hall (above) joined TE Alge Crumpler in voicing the belief that the coach was no friend of the veterans on the team.

Photo credit:  Associated Press

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