"You Gotta Be Kidding!"©
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
There seems to be an extraordinary obligation by local journalists and TV commentators from coast to coast to jump on the bandwagons of their respective NFL playoff teams and present a jaundiced view of reality to the crazed masses concerning the potential of the local team to make it to the Super Bowl this year. Everyone has suddenly become a contender with the mentality of "any team on any day" just to stir the pot a bit more.
A fan of the St. Louis Rams holds up a "O" and a fence. Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the rest of the Rams are the clear favorites with their home field advantage all the way through the playoffs, while playing in perfect conditions indoors. |
It is a stance that is a bit narrow-minded and presumptive but it plays to the locals. That is all that matters.
This year's road to New Orleans for the big event on Sunday, February 3rd, is likely to lead through St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Oakland or San Francisco. Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the rest of the Rams are the clear favorites with their home field advantage all the way through the playoffs, while playing in perfect conditions indoors.
Sure, the Rams lost at home to Tampa Bay and New Orleans and those that would like to beat them love to talk about their occasional propensity for turnovers. But, the playoffs take teams like St. Louis to another level, and it remains questionable whether that win by Tampa Bay bodes ill for Philadelphia this Saturday, other than the fact that it was indoors for a team that looks upon chilling weather as happily as Republicans look upon displeasing the righteous right wing of their party. The Bucs and Saints got hyped and psyched for the game, and it is possible that their hosts did not take them seriously at the time.
The Eagles took the Rams into overtime in the season opener, but it was the season opener and the Rams did not have their act together.
The Steelers enjoy home field advantage throughout in the AFC, and they are doing all that they can to have Accu-Weather arrange for snow, snow, snow should they be playing Oakland or Miami.
Locals can take optimistic views of the future in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Oakland and San Francisco. But, planning for the Super Bowl in New England, Miami, Chicago or Philadelphia, to name a few, is incongruous with reality and a distorted anticipation of what lies ahead.
Green Bay has Brett Favre and he is a force to be reckoned with, but they are very beatable. If there are more loyal fans anywhere outside of Green Bay they have yet to be discovered. Tell them anything but that the Super Bowl awaits, and their eyes become teary and angry at the same time because they do not see anyone else stalking the sidelines except Vince Lombardi. That is the way it was, is and shall always remain.
Players on the Eagles are already talking Super Bowl. Despite the incredible record of Tampa Bay when the temperature drops below forty, this just might be the year that the Bucs don their woolies, pantyhose and heated helmets. Philadelphia does not have an offense that sends fear and shudders up and down the spines of their opponents. Even the journalists that follow the team in the City of Brotherly Love know that. They skirt around it and then settle on Donovan McNabb, holding on as tightly as they can with both hands, but it is just not enough. A trip to New Orleans is not in their future.
Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb throws the ball during December's Philadelphia/San Francisco game. The Eagles lost to the 49ers, and have only beaten two teams with winning records this season: Seattle and Tampa Bay.|
Look at it this way, the last game of the season aside - since it was totally meaningless and came out as more of a scrimmage than a war, Philadelphia has played only four teams with winning records and beat one of them, Seattle...not exactly among the cream of the crop.
The boys in green sport a very good defense and fairly reliable special teams but that is not enough at this time of the year. They think that it is, but it is not. They cannot run the ball and have a predictable offense compounded by clock management that is sophomoric at best. Philadelphia will hastily point to games that they shoulda, coulda, mighta won if this or that play had gone their way but disdain the ones they did win when the same could have been said of their opponents. It is how things are done in that city.
As McNabb goes, so go the Eagles. Their receiving trio of James Thrash, Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell really boil down to Thrash when panic sets in. Duce Staley is not what he was supposed to be, so their running game is negligible, at best. Defense and special teams will not take them to the Super Bowl. McNabb and David Akers, their pro-bowl bound kicker, are just not enough any longer.
And, an interesting stat to remember is that NFC teams that earn a bye are 10-0 in the divisional round over the last five years. First stop for the Birds is beating Tampa Bay at home and then, if they do, they might get to the Windy City and the Chicago Bears, another team that has over-achieved this season.
Linebacker Carlos Emmons has said, "Anything but the Super Bowl will be disappointing, as it should be." The view from this corner is that the Eagles are headed for a major disappointment despite the partisan published pieces of the local journalists and the to-be-expected optimism of the team itself.
Will Tampa Bay go into the deep freeze of despair one more time when they visit Vet Stadium Saturday afternoon, in the real game? Will Tony Dungy, their coach, be able to focus while the rumors of his leaving are already swirling about more than the snowstorms that have blanketed our country in recent weeks? Will his counterpart across the field, Andy Reid, come up with anything particularly creative?
Will any of the faithful with shortsighted vision and dogged devotion admit that they were wrong or even change their opinions in the face of facts? You gotta be kidding!