It used to be a hackneyed line, found in the B-movies of the day, when color was still reserved for the big budget “pictures”. Typically, it was uttered by men in fedoras who all sounded like Jimmy Cagney.

The line was: “That’s just crazy enough to work!”

Oh, you can still see it pop up from time to time. Sometimes I even like saying it; I’ve had a pretty good success rate of getting laughs when it spills off my lips.

As I was sitting here, trying to figure out what to write about another Lions loss — this time without the, ahem, benefit of having actually seen the game — the idea came to me out of the blue.

The Lions are 0-7. The Cincinnati Bengals are 0-8. They would appear to be on a crash course to see who will get the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft, especially since they don’t play each other. It’s still highly likely that they will end up with identical records, be it 0-16, 1-15 or something.

So here’s the idea. Instead of using some silly little coin flip or sucking ping pong balls through a vacuum and into a rotating cylinder — or any other supposedly “random” little trick that you can come up with — in order to determine overall pick #1, why not hold the first annual Toilet Bowl?

You heard me.

As part punishment, part fairness, part grotesque sadism, make the Lions and Bengals suit up the week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, pitting them against each other in the Toilet Bowl. At stake? The 2009 #1 Draft Pick. The winner of the game gets the #1 pick. And, to make things interesting (for what is the real difference between #1 and #2, anyway?), the loser of the Toilet Bowl gets bumped all the way down to the 32nd pick. I know, tough cookies for the loser, but maybe, just maybe, you might get a decent football game if you frame it this way.

I’m only partly kidding, by the way. What scares me is that I wonder if I’m really kidding at all.

I haven’t seen much of the Bengals this season, even with my NFL Sunday Ticket package. Just because you CAN watch the Bengals doesn’t mean that you DO. I’m sure they’re saying the same thing about the Lions in Cincinnati. But a look at the standings shows the Bengals with 104 points scored and 217 points allowed; the Lions are at 114-212. Verrrry similar.

Now, it may not be what Lions RB Rudi Johnson had in mind when he signed with the Lions after several years with the Bengals, but there you have it.

Here’s this week’s incredible Lions statistic: Washington QB Jason Campbell, Sunday, became the sixth quarterback out of the seven the Lions have played this season to register a career high in QB rating. SIX OUT OF SEVEN! The exception? Minnesota’s Gus Frerotte, who surely would contemplate retirement immediately if you were to show him this nugget of info.

But it’s true. Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, J.T. O’Sullivan, Kyle Orton, Matt Schaub, and Campbell have all had career days, literally, against the Lions this season. Even for a winless team, even for a team with the Lions pedigree, that’s mind-boggling.

But it’s not funny. It’s not cute, even if we pretend it to be. It’s shameful, is what it is. It’s embarrassing and humiliating and disgusting, is what it is. It’s being the league’s punching bag, its fire hydrant for all the dogs.

Ahh, but would the Lions be the punching bag and fire hydrant for the Bengals, too?

Let’s strap it on the last week of January and find out.

It’s just crazy enough to work!