Since Tim decided to dub Championship Sunday the most exciting football day of the year (and since we’ll be too busy having fun during the Super Bowl), we felt it necessary to pull out all the stops with a live-blog.Tim, John S, and Josh will all be here during the day as the Jets battle the Colts and the Saints host the Vikings.
6:16, JOHN S — Well, I was neither especially wrong about the Jets nor especially devastated by this loss. But it was nice to see the Jets give the Colts a run for their money. NPI will be back in a few with the NFC Championship game…
6:14, JOSH — It’s been a fun season. Can’t complain about making the AFC Championship game with a Rookie Coach and QB. I look forward to upgrading our secondary and adding another receiving option in the offseason and making another run. I’m out for the NFC Championship coverage (you know, I go to law school and have work and such), but it’s been fun.
6:12, TIM — I just want to say that, for as much as I’ve killed them all season, the Jets had a very impressive year. They’re right up there with “Teams I’ve Been Most Wrong About.” And they were fun to watch. It will be interesting to see how they do next year in what should be a loaded AFC East (yeah, Chan Gailey’s gonna work wonders in Buffalo).
6:10, TIM — Totally agree, John S. Unless Nantz and Simms can definitively prove that the Colts would have lost this game if they had not rested their starters the last two weeks, they’re on thin ice. (Although, the Colts did look especially fresh down the stretch…) Continue reading
Who cares about Bob Dylan when there’s football to be played? In New Orleans Town! I made the case last week that the Divisional Playoff round is the sport’s best weekend, Championship Sunday is its best day (until a fortnight from now, when I say the same thing about the Super Bowl, obvs). With two intriguing games and a lot of suffering fan bases with some karmic reparations due, it should be fun.
#2 Minnesota Vikings at #1 New Orleans Saints
Remember when everyone thought this was inevitable? Oh yeah.
And remember when you said it wasn’t? Me? When would I say such a thing?
“This is so true that we rarely confide in those who are better than we. Rather, we are more inclined to flee their society. Most often, on the other hand, we confess to those who are like us and who share our weaknesses. Hence we don’t want to improve ourselves or be bettered, for we should first have to be judged in default. We merely wish to be pitied and encouraged in the course we have chosen. In short, we should like, at the same time, to cease being guilty and yet not make the effort of cleansing ourselves…We lack the energy of evil as well as the energy of good.”
Heading into Conference Championship weekend, we’re gonna play a little game I like to call “Who deserves it more?” You see, fans have a tendency to exaggerate their own suffering in recalling agonizing defeats and the severe personal trauma inflicted upon them by their own, inescapable fandom.
And all of our final four can lay some claim to suffering. But which fan base has been hurt the most, and which deserves a Super Bowl title on its mantle the most? Continue reading
There was a time when a second-round upset was a huge deal. They didn’t happen too often, so when Lin Elliott cost the 13-3 Chiefs a game against Jim Harbaugh and the Comeback Colts in 1995, it resonated throughout the league. Even though the AFC’s top seed would lose each of the next two seasons (Denver, and then Kansas City again to Denver in 1997), I remember these upsets being shocking on the same level of a 1-8 upset in the NCAA Tournament. The team that dominated the regular season was gone, just like that.
We’ve kind of changed that perspective the last few years, haven’t we? A second-round upset is now kind of like a 5-12 game; it isn’t a matter of if it’s going to happen, but rather to whom. Home teams are just 5-7 the last three years in the second round, with three of the four falling a season ago. Prior to 2007, the NFC’s top seed had won 17 straight in the divisional round. It’s now on a two-game slide.
It’s in this second round that the NFL has more closely resembled Major League Baseball’s playoffs, with freakish upsets happening seemingly out of the blue. On paper, the Panthers were better than the Cardinals last year, the Cowboys better than the Giants before that, the Chargers better than the Patriots before that, the Colts better than the Steelers before that. But it’s been working out less and less frequently on the field, which is what has definitively made this the most intriguing weekend of the NFL season year in and year out these days. You have all the best teams playing in four games spread across two days.
The only hard thing about it is trying to predict what’s going to happen. Continue reading
“Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.”
It was the worst GameCast experience of my life and the perpetuation of what would become an annual Giants’ tradition. On November 26, 2006, Big Blue led the Titans 21-0 going into the fourth quarter. They were about to put an end to an ugly two-game losing streak, move to 7-4, and proceed to win the NFC East—or so I thought.
That’s when Vince Young went to work. The then-rookie led the Titans on one touchdown drive, and then another. Then the Giants had Tennessee in a 4th-and-10, and Mathias Kiwanuka had his arms around Young, and he let go, and Vince ran for the first down and eventually, threw for another touchdown. An Eli INT—by PacMan Jones, no less—and a Rob Bironas field goal completed the comeback.
Three years later, Vince Young led a similarly remarkable comeback, converting three fourth downs while driving the Titans 99 yards in the final moments for a 20-17 victory over the Cardinals. One would think that the postgame narrative would have been structured around Young’s abilities in the fourth quarter, perhaps with references to his Rose Bowl appearances and that comeback against the Giants. Instead, much of the talk was on how Vince Young is finally living up to the hype. Gregg Easterbrook said Young’s success proves Tim Tebow can start in the NFL at quarterback. On PTI, Peter King even compared Young to JaMarcus Russell.
“Stick with him! Think of chewing gum … if he’s chewing some, by the end of the game, I want to know what flavor it is!”
—Coach Norman Dale
A few years ago, the Washington Redskins traded young but established star cornerback named Champ Bailey to the Denver Broncos for a young but established star running back named Clinton Portis. Most people thought the Broncos won the trade; even if Portis was a better player, Bailey was a star at a position that didn’t have any (and, of course, with their borderline illegal blocking scheme, the Broncos would have no trouble producing another 1,000-yard rusher. His name was Reuben Droughns).
Now, there haven’t been any clear winners in that deal. Each team has won a single playoff game, and both guys played a fairly significant part in those respective wins (gratuitous linking to that Bailey interception…NOW!). My hard-to-get-to point is this: At the time of the trade, Champ Bailey was the best cornerback in football and the only one who could even be considered a shutdown guy. Bailey was the only player who made teams think twice about throwing his way. And he wasn’t even that good, at least not by “Best Cornerback in the League” standards. (No offense to Champ, but he couldn’t hold a candle to guys like Darrell Green, Deion Sanders, even Aeneas Williams.)