Things haven't exactly gone according to plan for the Indianapolis Colts this year.
It's hard to remember that this team was a hot pick to make the Super Bowl before the season started and that quarterback Andrew Luck was a popular pick to win the MVP award. Surely no one could have predicted that, with four games remaining in the regular season, the Colts would be just 6-6 and that Luck would be 30th in the league in passer rating and have missed five games. That's the reality of where the Colts are, however, as they cling to a half of a game lead in the AFC South.
It should come as little surprise, then, that when the Wall Street Journal's Kevin Clark set out to rank the most unwatchable teams in the NFL, the Colts didn't fare too favorably. In fact, they were number one - but not in an area you want to be number one in. According to Clark, the Colts are the most unwatchable team in the league this year.
Using a number of stats that typically make games not fun to watch, Clark ranked every NFL team in shortest average pass (the Colts were 22nd), fewest big plays (the Colts were 8th), most big plays called back due to penalty (8th), most rushes for no gain (6th), most pre-snap penalties (25th), most fair catches (1st), most dropped passes (12th), and most failed coaches challenges (2nd). Then, factoring in all eight of those rankings, he ranked teams from least watchable to most watchable.
No one who saw their botched fourth-down play against the New England Patriots, in which the Colts had just two players near the ball upon the snap, can be surprised by this. A banged-up Andrew Luck created a disjointed offense and things have somehow gotten worse from there. How bad is it? They lead the league in fair catches, are second in failed coaches' challenges and rank among the top 10 in rushes for no gain and big plays called back by penalty, among others. You don't want to watch this team right now. Bonus: At 6-6, they could still host a playoff game.
Of course, just because a team is "unwatchable" doesn't necessarily make them a bad team, as the undefeated Carolina Panthers are 8th on the list. Furthermore, the Jets (5th) and the Falcons (10th) are also in the top ten despite a .500 record or better, meaning that four of the top ten teams have a .500 or better record this season. So just because a team is unwatchable doesn't necessarily mean that they are bad, but a few of the worst teams in the NFL (like the Browns and the 49ers) are also in the top ten of this list.
Another thing is that fair catches aren't always bad, yet they are included in these rankings. For the Colts, having someone fair catch a punt is an improvement from guys like Josh Cribbs a year ago who wouldn't fair catch, so that's not always a bad decision. But, to Clark's point, fair catches do take away one of the potentially most exciting plays in a punt return, so it's fair to include them in this ranking.
Ultimately, it's hard to argue with the Colts being ranked as the most unwatchable team this year. They have been just average in a number of areas and haven't really been all that exciting, save for a few moments here and there (most of them comebacks or comeback attempts). So if you are a Colts fan still watching the team, you deserve some credit - it turns out you've been watching the most unwatchable team in the NFL.