Monday, December 4, 2023

Weekend rankings: How are this many teams under .500?

If you’ve been following this column over the season, you may have a sense of where this is going, but let’s lay it out: The bottom five is becoming an issue.

Not most of it. Three teams have been regulars, usually in the top three spots, and they’ll be there again this week. There’s a fourth team that usually makes it and one that escaped for a while but is making a big push to return, and one of them has a spot secured this time around. And then there’s the five-spot, which has been a rotating cast of teams all year long. We’ve had a newbie show up in each of the last three weeks.

So who deserves a spot this week? There’s no shortage of candidates; right now, we’ve got 11 teams that are under .500 in a league where the standings are specifically rigged to make sure that doesn’t happen. And almost all of those teams could make a solid claim to a bottom-five spot.

Almost all of them. The exception is the Oilers, who are 9-12-1 but just got the whole contender treatment in the last section. I’ve stayed on the bandwagon all year, even when things were going off the rails, so you know I’m not turning on them now that they’re hot.

Beyond that? I think everyone has a case. So today, I’m going to work through those other 10 teams and try to talk myself out of some bottom-five candidates, one by one. We’ll see how convincing I can be, but one way or another we’ll narrow the field of 10 down to a true bottom five.

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