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Detroit has made last year’s playoff run after an 11-season hiatus marked by horrid teams _ remember 0-16 in 2008? _ look like a fluke. Perhaps the NFL’s most undisciplined team with 52 penalties _ only Dallas and Baltimore have more through seven games _ and dissatisfying showings by the touted defensive line, the Lions’ chore is even more challenging than Cincinnati’s: Chicago, Green Bay and even Minnesota have been far better in the NFC North.

Struggles in Tennessee and San Diego probably were more predictable. The Titans outperformed their talent base in going 9-7 a year ago, and are in more of a rebuilding stage than a contending one, with a sieve of a defense. The Chargers are, well, the Chargers, which means fans should expect unfathomable losses such as the 7-6 debacle at Cleveland. San Diego simply makes just enough errors of omission and commission to flop.

Then there’s New Orleans. The folks in the Big Easy believe the Saints’ 2-5 record is all Commissioner Roger Goodell’s fault. Maybe things would be more jovial on Bourbon Street if the team had a defense.


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