This week's electronic conversation between Sports columnists John Romano and Gary Shelton:
JR: Gary, there has been talk the Lions are the worst NFL team in decades. I'm not even sure they're the worst team in the NFL this season, considering the way the Rams are playing. What do you say?
GS: I say you're selling the Lions short, or is it long? Detroit is 0-10, and you don't get there without a serious commitment to wretchedness. They aren't the worst team in NFL history, but if they were to go 0-16 in an era of free agency, salary cap and weighted schedules, it would be the most unimpressive thing we have ever seen.
JR: Even more unimpressive than a Dane Cook movie?
GS: Even more unimpressive than a Dane Cook movie with Lindsay Lohan as the love interest featuring a soundtrack by Britney Spears. With a special appearance by Steven Seagal.
JR: You're talking about the remake of Macbeth, aren't you?
GS: Technically it's called: Transporter 3: Tango and Macbeth.
JR: Okay, so the Lions are brutal. Their record proves it. On the other hand, Tampa Bay's 7-3 record should prove the Bucs are a legitimate playoff contender. So give me an over/under on the postseason. How many wins does Tampa Bay need for the wild card and how many for the NFC South title?
GS: I think 11 victories would take the NFC South, especially if one of the next four wins is against Carolina. Nine probably gets you in as a wild-card team, but tiebreakers could be involved, and I know how much you hate math. So let's say 10 to be safe.
JR: I love math. It was math tests that I felt were evil and unpatriotic. Checking my math here, I see Carolina's next six opponents have a winning percentage of .633, and Tampa Bay's next six opponents have a winning percentage of .417. See, that's a good thing.
GS: You love math, huh? Then solve this, Einstein. You take the Bucs running game and you subtract Earnest Graham. How much does the result scare you?
JR: I just checked the laws of Grudenometry, and it looks pretty darn frightening to me. Warrick Dunn has been tough and durable for a lot of years, but he has also always been paired with a larger running back, whether it was Mike Alstott or T.J. Duckett or, to a lesser extent, Jerious Norwood.
GS: If I were Gruden, that isn't what would keep me awake nights. If I were Gruden, I would wonder what the game would look like if Dunn were to get injured. Do you just say "the heck with it" and throw 89 times? Or do you move Luke McCown to tailback? And I'm just asking here so I can get tons of positive e-mail, but are we sure that Mike Alstott has sent in his retirement papers?
JR: If he could live with a fumble every 3.3 carries, he could use Clifton Smith. But who is going to carry the ball around the goal line? Who is getting it in short-yardage situations? And does it make you worry about them using Cadillac Williams before they normally would?
GS: I don't understand the questions. In red zone situations, you can count on Matt Bryant getting the ball. In short yardage, you can count on throwing to Antonio Bryant. As far as Cadillac's timetable, I think of a lot of it is up to him. In the old days, remember, Cadillac never admitted he was hurting. Besides, what makes a running back feel better than the Detroit run defense?
JR: Excellent point. Which brings us back to this afternoon. I have a feeling in my gut that the Bucs may be in trouble. Is that justified, or is it just the chili dog I had for lunch?
GS: I told you I thought that ninth dog looked a little green, to be honest. And I'll say this for the Lions. They're the best 0-10 team in the league. Seriously, if you feel nervous about this game, it's not because of the Lions. It's because of the Bucs. And that chili dog.