The Football Happiness Scale
OK, so Mike Schur and I came up with something we’re calling the Football Happiness Scale. It’s an idea built around two ideas — Mike’s theory that it might be more fun to root AGAINST teams in the NFL than for them, and my Movie Plus-Minus System which proposes that that best way to judge a movie’s entertainment value is against the expectations that you had before you saw it.
And so, we came up with the Football Happiness scale.
Here’s what we did: Each of us ranked the NFL teams bases on how much we want to see them win. For example, each of us would like to see the Buffalo Bills win a lot and each of would like to see the Dallas Cowboys lose more than any other team.
Mike actually has the Bills at the very top of his list. So that’s +16. I have the Bills currently second on my list, so that’s +15. Both of us have the Cowboys last, so that’s -16 for them.
If the Bills beat the Cowboys that’s a +32 happiness game for Mike and a +31 happiness game for me.
There are many ways to use the scale, but for now let’s just introduce it and go through this week’s slate of game. Remember, our rankings have nothing to do with which team we think is better or worse, only how much we like them.
One final point: We reserve the right to change our rankings throughout the year — and we undoubtedly will.
Here we go:
Chargers at Chiefs
Mike: Chargers (+15) vs. Chiefs (+13) —2-point game
Joe: Chargers (+7) vs. Chiefs (+16) — 9-point game
Mike slightly favors the Chargers in his heart but he won’t have particularly intense feelings for this game. I have a strong preference for the Chiefs — I cannot forgive the Chargers for leaving San Diego, though I do thoroughly enjoy watching Justin Herbert play football.
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Dolphins at Ravens
Mike: Dolphins (-2) vs Ravens (-14) — 12-point game
Joe: Dolphins (+8) vs. Ravens (-13) — 21-point game
We’ll both be watching this one closely, more because we both loathe the Ravens. Mike’s pretty ambivalent about the Dolphins, but I kind of like them now. They’ve been so bad for so long … plus I want Darius Rucker to be happy.
Jets at Browns
Mike: Jets (+2) vs. Browns (-11) — 13-point game
Joe: Jets (+3) vs. Browns (+1) — 2-point game
I won’t root for the Browns to lose, so this game is basically an eh for me. Mike is invested in seeing the Browns lose.
Commanders at Lions
Mike: Commanders (-12) vs. Lions (+10) — 22-point game
Joe: Commanders (-15) vs, Lions (+13) — 28-point game
We are both hugely invested in this one. In searching my heart, I found that I actually loathe the Commanders more even than my lifelong-nemeses Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s one terrible organization. And, of course, we both want good things for the lowly Lions and their fans — they will certainly be in the mix as I look to pick my new team.
Colts at Jaguars
Mike: Colts (-3) vs. Jaguars (-7) — 4-point game
Joe: Colts (-7) vs. Jaguars (-6) — 1-point game
Who cares, really? One of the things we are going to have to work out with the Football Happiness Scale revolves around what a friend of mine likes to say whenever people try to parse two things that are essentially identical: “Distinctions at that level are not worth making.” Our scale has us liking the Jaguars a tiny bit more than the Colts. I doubt that’s true. I doubt either of us will get any happiness or sadness out of this game.
Buccaneers at Saints
Mike: Buccaneers (-1) vs. Saints (+7) — 8-point game
Joe: Buccaneers (-11) vs. Saints (-4) — 7-point game
I root against Tom Brady. It’s my right as an American. Mike seems to like the Saints a lot more than I do; I am just kind of blah about them, though I do intend on giving the Saints a chance in the Great NFL Team Search.
Panthers at Giants
Mike: Panthers (-5) vs. Giants (-4) — 1-point game
Joe: Panthers (+6) vs. Giants (-5) — 11-point game
I can see the scale being off because this doesn’t feel like an 11-point game for me at all. I tried to root for the Panthers last week and it didn’t take … but I guess I want them to win since I live in Charlotte. And the Giants, I don’t really care enough about them to like or dislike them. It’s a one-point game for Mike and it kind of feels like that for me too.
Patriots at Steelers
Mike: Patriots (+14) vs. Steelers (-15) — 29-point game
Joe: Patriots (-12) vs. Steelers (-14) — 2-point game
This one matters a lot more to Mike than it does to me because he grew up a Patriots fan and still has good feelings about them, plus he loathes the Steelers more than any team not in Dallas. For me, it’s a happiness toss-up. I have it listed as a +2 game for the Patriots, but I don’t think I would even get +2 happiness out of New England winning. I’m not even sure I want them to win.
Falcons at Rams
Mike: Falcons (+6) vs. Rams (+9) — 3-point game
Joe: Falcons (-2) vs. Rams (-3) — 1-point game
I have no feelings whatsoever about this one. Don’t like or dislike either team. Mike likes the Rams quite a bit and is rooting for them slightly.
Seahawks at 49ers
Mike: Seahawks (+3) vs. 49ers (+4) — 1-point game
Joe: Seahawks (+10) vs. 49ers (+5) — 5-point game
I don’t know how the Happiness Scale works when you like both teams. Both Mike and I like the Seahawks and 49ers. I really like the Seahawks, in fact. I think they’re an interesting dark horse as I look to pick my new NFL Team.
Bengals at Cowboys
Mike: Bengals (+12) vs. Cowboys (-16) — 26-point game
Joe: Bengals (+14) vs. Cowboys (-16) — 30-point game
This seems a good time to announce that the team I’m rooting for this Sunday will be the Cincinnati Bengals. There’s a lot for me to like about the Bengals as a longtime Browns fan — both wear orange, both were founded by Paul Brown, neither has won a Super Bowl. Plus: Joe Burrow. Plus, my buddy Chardon Jimmy is a lifelong Bengals fan. Plus they’re playing the Cowboys, so my passion will be fierce. Let’s go!
Texans at Broncos
Mike: Texans (-6) vs. Broncos (-10) — 4-point game
Joe: Texans (-8) vs. Broncos (-10) — 2-point game
Blech. I’m not sure why Mike despises the Broncos so much, but for me it’s obviously a leftover from John Elway. There are those who will say: “Dude, Elway retired more than 20 years ago. He’s barely even involved in the team now. Let it go.” … I will not.
Cardinals at Raiders
Mike: Cardinals (+5) vs Raiders (-9) — 14-point game
Joe: Cardinals (+9) vs. Raiders (-9) — 18-point game
Both of us will be rooting heartily for the Cardinals this week. A key game in terms of our happiness.
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Bears at Packers
Mike: Bears (+1) vs. Packers (-13) — 14-point game
Joe: Bears (+12) vs. Packers (+2) — 10-point game
I am trying on the Bears as my team — next week, my daughter Katie and I will head to Chicago to see them play live. That could go any number of ways. Mike thoroughly loathes the Packers, and I get it, but I can’t help but feel just a tiny bit of affection for them. Green Bay is so delightful.
Titans at Bills
Mike: Titans (-8) vs. Bills (+16) — 24-point game
Joe: Titans (+4) vs. Bills (+15) — 11-point game
Mike really doesn’t like the Titans. That’s interesting to me — I’m not sure how you can build up antipathy for the Titans. One of my best friends lives in Nashville and is a Titans fan, so I want them to do well for him. We both adore the Bills, though.
Vikings at Eagles
Mike: Vikings (+11) at Eagles (+8) — 3-point game
Joe: Vikings (-1) at Eagles (+11) — 12-point game
Mike likes the Vikings WAY MORE than I would have expected, probably because they’ve never won a Super Bowl. I like the Eagles WAY MORE than Mike would have expected, probably because of “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Invincible.” It’s a bigger happiness game to me than it is to Mike.
I don't think this works, despite the seeming brilliance of the idea. For example, if there are two minus teams, I rarely feel happier if one wins - I just don't care period. Maybe the scale needs to be tightened up, even if some teams share a score - +5 to -5, or something like that, with maybe a 2 point adder (or subtractor) for a top favorite (or the Cowboys on the low end - goes without saying). And anything under a 5 point spread isn't even worth getting too invested in, or even believing.
For example, I really don't care when the Cowboys play the Patriots - just looking for a 0-0 tie and sadness everywhere! Or, for non-Seahawks games, I just enjoy watching if it's Chiefs/Chargers and would be happy for either fan base. Or when Vikings play Colts, I really don't care. Trying to capture all that in your system means it needs some tweaking.
Though I grew up in Washington DC (suburbs), and I was a fan of the local team, a few years ago I was taken to an Eagles-Giants game. No, I don't really know why.
I was clear from the beginning that I was rooting for injuries and penalties.
Now, I have given up the team of my youth. I hated the losing and the bad tackling and the owner's interference. But what actually drove me away was their signing of domestic abusers. Talent was available, and I understand that. But there must be limits. So, I do not root for them. Now that they've become part of The Handmaid's Tale, that decision is even easier to live with.
Nonetheless, my antipathy for the old divisions rivals remains. Yes, the Cowboys are still the worst. The Giants are still horrible, to me. And the Eagles, too, are horrible. The Cardinals were never a threat, so it is easy accept them. But they are generally in the "IDon'tCare" range.