Monday, January 10, 2011
On Wildcard Weekend (and BCS Monday)
1. I don't think the Jets will defeat the Patriots, and I don't think the Steelers will defeat the Ravens, but I have to admit: About these playoffs, I don't think I would presume anything anymore. A week ago, I actually said that if I had a first-born child, I would immediately bet him/her on New Orleans, which is as good a reason as any to argue against me ever procreating*. I also did not imagine the Jets would defeat the Colts on the road, and especially in circumstances that required Mark Sanchez to actually make a clutch throw. In general, I find professional football an inferior product to the college game, but I think the NFL has accomplished something remarkable in the past few seasons: They've engendered such parity that we really have no idea about anything. This is the closest the NFL has come to approaching the wide-open nature of the NCAA tournament. It might not sustain itself, given the labor disputes and the delicate balancing act required to sustain it, but this hyperviolent lottery is fun while it lasts.
2. My instincts tell me that NFC Championship was played last weekend, and that Green Bay certainly appears to be the best team remaining, by a rather considerable margin. But I'm still not over the fact that the Arizona Cardinals played in a Super Bowl. Parity. Which is a solid concept, until it implodes and the Patriots beat the Seahawks 48-3 and we all hearken back to the good old days when the SB was the most lopsided major sporting event in America.
3. My uncertainty about the NFL carries over to Michael Vick. I could see him putting up three of the greatest quarterbacking years in NFL history over the next five seasons. I could also see him getting lazy, frequenting gentleman's clubs, and quitting at halftime of a game next season in order to (according to his agent) open a dog sanctuary in Virginia.
4. Twenty-five years ago, when the Chicago Bears advanced to the NFC Championship game, the first thing their defensive coordinator did was complain about the Los Angeles Rams' penchant for holding. And then he declared that the Rams' star running back, Eric Dickerson, would fumble three times. He was wrong; Dickerson only fumbled twice. The Bears won 24-0. So in case you're wondering what Rex Ryan is doing this week, he's doing what all children do: He's emulating his father. Which is why you won't hear anyone in the tabloids spending much time on Mark Sanchez's Nuke LaLoosh-like accuracy, or on any of the Jets' other inherent flaws. The more it's about Rex, the less it's about the fact that his team is inherently worse than the Patriots. In the modern age, in an era of endless distractions, I have no idea why coaches don't pull these kinds of stunts more often.
5. I predict Jamaal Charles will lead the NFL in rushing next season. I realize this is not a particularly bold prediction, but I would like to make it before anyone else so I can claim it as my idea.
6. Oregon 38, Auburn 27. Though in the name of overpriced sportswear, I hope I'm wrong.
*I can provide several more reasons, as well as references upon request.
(Photo: NY Daily News)