"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
And so it begins. The first weekend of playoff
games in the NFL. The battle to take the next step, and then the next, before
the Championship games and the Super Bowl...12-13 minutes of actual combative
competition stretched into two weeks of preparation, endless hours of noise,
empty and meaningless commentary, baseless opinions and then the game,
complete with Bruce Springsteen at the half. Only the NFL and network TV
could accomplish this.
The world is going to run to Philadelphia as if the game is over. The Eagles
did not destroy Dallas, the Cowboys imploded. When was the last time you
remember any team in the playoffs, or out of them, turning the ball over on
five consecutive possessions, basically without much assistance from the
defense? Time for T.O. to be traded again and Tony Romo to be re-evaluated.
Losing to Washington 10-3 might have been the real Eagles, while beating
Cleveland and Arizona were not exactly record book accomplishments. Nor was
playing a Giants team that forgot to show up.
That makes yours truly a majority of one. Minnesota. Not headed to the Super
Bowl, not this year, next or any time in the near future. Beating the Giants
in the last encounter of the season proved nothing, but the Vikings should
have sent presents to all the New Yorkers for relaxing and holding tryouts in
the second half. However, with Adrian Peterson, they can run the ball and
will need a stellar performance (will prayer help?) from their quarterback,
Tarvaris Jackson, coupled with ball control and a defense that can stop the
Andy Reid aerial attack, such that it is, while keeping Brian Westbrook at
bay. Tall order and small miracle being requested from above.
One upset is definitely going to happen with all visitors being favorites this
weekend - I do not recall that ever being the case in the past - and I favor
this one as the instance.
Matt Ryan was the third overall section by the Falcons in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Arizona is a bad team...plain, pure and simple. They have survived with the
guidance of one more quarterback playing out his remaining days in the NFL and
doing so admirably. But, the division that they conquered is one of the worst
in NFL history. The Cardinals cling to homefield like a new born chick to the
nest. It is where they have excelled, for the most part, against the good,
the bad and the ugly. But here come the surprising Falcons and their
proclaimed superstar quarterback, Matt Ryan. Except, truth be told, other than a
win at home against Carolina, they also have not been identified as the next
coming of the NFL paradigm for perfection. Ryan with Michael Turner toting
the ball and Atlanta has enough to put Arizona where it belongs, in front of a
TV for the next round.
When you're hot, you're hot and is anyone hotter than Peyton Manning right
now? Nine in a row with the usual array of mediocrity in the mix but, then,
some very good teams as well. The Colts are on a roll. After losing 5 of 6,
the Chargers came back to win four in a row but three of them were against
Oakland, Denver and Kansas City with a fading Tampa Bay thrown in to complete
the victory march. Not impressive. As a one-point favorite, the Colts enter
this contest as a basic toss-up but, still, a favorite with the other three
visitors this weekend. You can put up a single field goal or three TD's but
Indy will put up more. One does not require a PhD in math to make a
determination of choice here.
Then there is Baltimore at Miami, with the former displaying a listing of
injuries that reads like the casualty totals in Afghanistan. However, that
usually means that most of those whose names can be found there will also find
their way to the locker room and, eventually, the sidelines before trotting
out on the field. "Probable" is one of the most misunderstood words ever
employed by the NFL. The Dolphins, with nine wins out of their last ten
games, are over-matched here and that skein is a fooler. One good team that
should have been in the playoffs, New England, and they lost to them. The
Ravens, on the other hand, have added some offense to their heralded voracious
defense with a quarterback, Joe Flacco that is playing over his head for now
but at the right time. It is yet to be determined if he is as good as he has
looked of late. However, that is good enough to beat the Dolphins.
As long as the Giants do not relax, they are still the team to beat in the NFC
with Carolina nipping at their heels. If it does not come down to these two,
at least one of them, I will be very surprised. Possible? Of course. So was
snow in Vegas but it has happened. Probable? Not really. Everyone else is a
pretender to the throne with some getting in on the action thanks to a system
that can be very unfair, as it was this year, with New England watching after
an 11-5 record.
The majority of one believes that planning the parade route in Philadelphia is
a bit premature, but that is what they do there with fans that give Chameleons
a run for the money. It is one thing for journalists, talk show hosts and
late-night sports commentators to be homers, but planning Super Bowl parties
on the first weekend of the playoffs after backing into a spot? Right, it is
the nature of the game, cities, rites of winter and pandering to the populace
from coast to coast. Understood.
Will all the teams chosen rise to the occasion and win this weekend? You
gotta be kidding!