The Desperation Index features disappointing teams thought to be in the hunt at one point (excluding your Lions, Chiefs, Browns and Rams), but are now struggling to save their seasons after rough starts in 2009. Who is most on the hook for a win this week?
Desperation Index: 10.0 -- Tennessee Titans (0-4): Right now, the only thing keeping the Titans on this list if the fact that they were the NFL's 1-seed in 2008. They look nothing like that team in 2009. It could have been argued that they were the NFL's best winless team until last Sunday, when they were convincingly beaten by the Jaguars, 37-17. Now they're one more loss away from done, and the specter of the "Hey, let's see if Vince Young(notes) can actually play quarterback in the NFL" discussion again. Eek.
Desperation Index: 10.0 -- Carolina Panthers (0-3): Similarly, last year's 2-seed in the NFC can't buy a win. Before their Week 4 bye, the Panthers lost, 21-7 to the uneven Cowboys. They haven't had a 100-yard rusher in a single game yet, which is very bad news for their smashmouth offense. Why the Kats are playing keep-away from their running game is a mystery, but if they have any hope of salvaging their season, it's time to load up the tight ends and get back to power against the Redskins today.
Desperation Index: 10.0 -- Seattle Seahawks (1-3): Last year, their 4-12 record was more about a historic number of offensive injuries, and the front office got a pass. Now, team president Tim Ruskell is one loss away from a dead season and a great many questions about his tenure. He's the guy who ran Mike Holmgren out of town, and has failed to find necessary replacements for Matt Hasselbeck(notes), Walter Jones(notes), and Shaun Alexander(notes). Another sub-500 season in the Emerald City could lead to a much-needed rebuild.
Desperation Index: 9.0 -- Arizona Cardinals (1-2): Last year's NFC Champs were blown out by the Colts in Week 3, and they've had the bye week to fix a running game that has failed to produce a single player going over 30 yards in two of their three games. More distressingly, Kurt Warner(notes) is not hitting his downfield targets -- his Yards per Pass Attempt is down from 7.7 in 2008 to 7.1 in 2009, which is his worst since 2003. They need to figure it out against the Houston Texans, a team that can actually outgun them these days.
Desperation Index: 8.0 -- Washington Redskins (2-2): What a lovely week it's been for the Beltway Bunglers. First, Danny and Vinny pulled Sherm Lewis out of the bingo hall to "oversee" Jim Zorn ("Okay, now call B-1!"). Then, there was defensive coordinator Greg Blache's insistence that he wouldn't talk to the media for the rest of the season, which is a real shame, as he's the most quotable coach in the NFL. Then, the catfight between Clinton Portis(notes) and Mike Sellers(notes) over Portis wanting Sellers pulled because of his blocking. This is one week, folks. The Panthers may have problems, but at least they're not an ongoing soap opera. If the Redskins dip under .500 by losing to Carolina, what will NEXT week look like?
Desperation Index: 8.0 -- Miami Dolphins (1-3): The Dolphins finally got their first win of the season against the Bills last week, a 38-10 shellacking that actually put them with more points scored than allowed for the season. They've lost two close games -- one to the Colts where they had the ball for 45 minutes, and one to the Chargers in which San Diego exploited Miami's holes in their red zone defense. Now, they have a chance to crawl back to relevance against the Jets on Monday night, but they're facing Rex Ryan -- the same guy who ran the Baltimore defense that shut down the Wildcat last year.