A few years ago, to fill in some of the dead time, I started talking about college and professional football on the page. I hadn’t watched the NFL with any regularity for several years at that point. So, I came up with a gimmick of the “Completely Ignorant” NFL pundit. I actually used the gimmick earlier in the season for a picks column through week 7 or 8. Then, the realities of life reduced my picks to clicking team logos on a FanDuel screen. Pardon my French, but c’est la vie. Oh well, on with my Completely Ignorant 2019 NFL Conference Championship preview.
I’m going to do this a bit differently. Having spent the better part of two hours last night listening to podcasts, I am no closer to knowing with any certainty who is going to win these games. Therefore, I’m going to rate each potential Super Bowl match up on a rigorous scale that I’ve developed. Each possibility will be given from 0 to 10 “Eff the Pats”. For reference, last year’s Super Bowl that forced me to root for the Eagles was 10 “Eff the Pats”. Also, in all honesty, I was rooting for the meteor last year.
2019 NFL Conference Championship Crystal Ball (Pats vs. Rams)
I rank this one 8 “Eff the Pats”, always 5 from the actual Pats and 3 from the Rams. First, we’ve seen this matchup before. Sure, it was almost 20 years ago, but it was the start of this Patriots dynasty and the start of my slow descent into madness. It is well documented in text and on this site, so I won’t go into it unless this is the reality that we end up living in after tomorrow. What you might wonder is why 3 for the Rams? I just fear that they could become the new Pats with a “genius” head coach and an unproven quarterback. I’d rather put that off for as long as possible.
2019 NFL Conference Championship Crystal Ball (Pats vs. Saints)
I give this one the requisite 5 “Eff the Pats”. If the Patriots have to make the Super Bowl again, at least give us a matchup that we haven’t ever seen before. Plus, I like the Saints. Drew Brees is the original underdog quarterback, but he never quite got to the annoying saturation point of “humble” Tom Brady. And, Sean Payton was once the hot new replacement for “genius” Bill Belichick, but that never materialized either. The Saints are sort of an alternate universe where the Patriots don’t become the bane of society. Finally, as black and actual gold, they become a good surrogate for my Steelers.
2019 NFL Conference Championship Crystal Ball (Chiefs vs. Rams)
I give this one the aforementioned 3 “Eff the Pats” for the Rams alone. The good part of this is that the Patriots are nowhere to be seen. There’s no chance of them somehow stumbling into another Super Bowl victory by a last second field goal in the “most exciting” Super Bowl ever. I love this version of the Chiefs and are meh about the Rams. If the Rams win the game, I can worry about their potential dynasty later.
2019 NFL Conference Championship Crystal Ball (Chiefs vs. Saints)
This one gets zero “Eff the Pats”. I can rest assured in the fact that neither the old Pats nor the new version will have any chance to build on nor start their narrative as the most successful franchise in NFL history. Either Mahomes or Brees is okay by me as the face of the league for the offseason. This is just the feel good story that I need for the next 6 months before the NFL season starts up again. With how feel good has been performing lately, that means there is no chance of it happening.
Overall, this year isn’t as objectionable as last year. I had to root against two teams last year and they both won. This year, I just have to put all of my bad mojo into the Patriots bucket. Done and done. I won’t be watching either of these games as it looks like I will be digging out from under a foot and a half of snow and maybe even playing in it for some of the time. All of you who are watching, enjoy it and give a few extra “Eff the Pats” for me.
I spent the better part of two weeks convincing people (and maybe even myself) that I wasn’t going to watch the Super Bowl this year. I haven’t watched an entire Super Bowl (not even when the Steelers were in it) in over a decade, so why start this year. Then, I was actually invited to a Super Bowl party. It wasn’t one of those, “maybe” invites either. It was from the same friend that I’ve made a tradition of watching the CFP Championship with and might even try to make some time this year to watch some of the March Madness tournament.
We said yes. I say “we” because our wives are friends, too, and Aiden expressed interest in watching the game this year. We were going to make a family event of it. Liam was a bit upset that we weren’t going to do our annual movie marathon, but everyone else seemed to be on board. Then, the big day came, and some of our family wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t want to spread germs. Cue up “Night at the Museum” trilogy!
I did watch the Gamecast at the end of the first half and then the end of the game. Because, let’s be fair. The NFL (and college to some extent) has become a league where you don’t actually have to watch the whole game. If something exciting is going to happen, it’s going to be in the last few minutes of either half. Sure enough, that’s exactly how this game went down. Well, in conversation with Chris, he said it was a good game, but I’m okay being in the dark except for highlights.
What Exactly Are We Watching?
NFL ratings have been down. I’m sure you’ve heard that at least once during the season. Everyone has a theory as to why. People are disrespecting the flag and the anthem! The product is too diluted by being on so many times during the week! Parents are horrified to let their kids watch what ultimately is the slow suicide of 106 large men who crash into each other at full speed!
I think that what many people are not considering is that ratings everywhere are going down. As more and more realize that everything is much better on demand and often sports are much better consumed as highlights, the old model of television is becoming obsolete. Sure cable companies are holding on for dear life, bolstered primarily by ESPN’s Disney money, but the end is extremely effing nigh as 28 Day Later told us.
I would, for a moment, like to return to the concussion issue. The flag and anthem are non starters for me, so don’t even start. If you want to have an intelligent discussion about it, fine. As I said in a previous article, if you want to shout generalities and memes at me, I’m just going to conclude that you don’t have the intellectual capacity to hold a conversation and I’m going to walk away. However, after listening to Hang Up and Listen this week, I do think there might be something to the concussion theory.
They were talking about how Patriots super tight end (yikes, those words in that order sound really weird) Rob Gronkowski, referred semi-affectionately by me as “Gronkenstein”, sounded almost contemplative during his post game interview. I was intrigued by this because (a) I just assumed that Gronk would Gronk as long as his body allowed him to Gronk and (b) he’s not exactly the most contemplative individual. It was a bit of a shock to hear that Gronk maybe didn’t want to Gronk as hard and maybe not at all anymore.
Sure, there have been other players who have decided that the game wasn’t for them and have retired early. Especially as more evidence is coming out that the NFL kept research from the public and, more importantly, the players, some guy are deciding that going on playing a game that might leave them so brain damaged as to eventually hurt somebody else or themselves might not be the best idea. Gronkenstein is the perfect specimen for playing football. It’s like he was selected by a casting director for a football movie. Hearing that even he was considering his own mortality has me a bit shook.
“I’m Rooting for the Meteor”
In spite of my insistence that I wasn’t watching the game (at this point because I was convinced more than ever that it would just be another typical Patriots victory), I kept getting drawn into conversations about the game. I finally just responded to one conversation with Craig (the guy who I was supposed to be ignoring the game at his Super Bowl party), “I’m rooting for the meteor.” I also said to Chris after the game, “Know that this is one of the few ways that the Patriots would lose the Super Bowl and I wouldn’t be dancing on their graves.” For a Steelers fan, this game was a lose-lose proposition.
If I Had Any Money, I’d Probably Develop a Gambling Problem
During one of my conversations with Craig, he mentioned that he bought one of those squares for the game this year. That got me thinking, so I went and I checked out some betting sites to see what odds you could have gotten on various scenarios. The Eagles won, which was unexpected, and Nick Foles won MVP, which was very unlikely. I figured that if you were going to bet one then you’d probably have taken the other, so I figured out parlay odds for those things happening. It was over 10 to 1. I also figured that if you hedged with Tom Brady as MVP, you’d only have lost only 10 dollars on that hedge. I ended several conversations with the conclusion that I’d have to put some money away so that I could throw it at Vegas next year.
Wither Defense in the NFL?
Chris insists that this was an exciting game. I have heard that assessment from others as well. I was riveted by the last 5 minutes or so as I watched the GameCast on NFL.com. I asked him if the defenses were as bad as they seemed or if it was just an illusion of the high scoring game. He replied, “Oh, no. It wasn’t an illusion. The defenses were that bad.” So, I checked out the highlights and all I can say is, “Wow.” It wasn’t a surprise that the Patriots defense was terrible, they’ve been suspect all year. The Eagles, on the other hand, were supposed to live on defense this year. This is not my father’s NFL.
Some people complain about college football and the fact that many teams don’t bother with defense much other than maybe Alabama. On the other hand, I enjoy the college game and the quick strike offenses that rule the day there. It seems as if some of the more progressive coaches in the NFL (maybe spearheaded by Chip Kelly’s somewhat failed experiment) have noticed that if they want to win, they might have to go the college route. Then again, perhaps this game is an aberration and we’ll be back to ugly 3 and out football next season.
“Inch by Inch”
Perhaps influenced by the Madden video game series and their hero worship of players, I didn’t give much thought to coaching in the NFL. Sure, people make the argument that a good coach makes a difference, but really, how much of a difference? These are grown men who have fought tooth and nail all of their lives to rise to the epitome of their profession. And, they need a guy to motivate them to do well at that profession? It’s an absurd proposition.
Well, I’m here to say that I was wrong about all of that. One of the main reasons that Philadelphia made it to the Super Bowl is that they have a good coach who is willing to do what it takes to win the game. Most of the time, when faced with the Patriots “unbeatable aura”, coaches and teams shrink. Not so with the Eagles in this game. They stood toe to toe with the Pats and barely blinked.
I’m Impressed By Philadelphia’s Marbles
Speaking of coaching, not only did Philly not blink, but they took it right to the Patriots. They went for it on fourth down more than once. One time, they went for it on 4th and goal from the Patriots 1 and showed them how a trick play throw to your quarterback is supposed to work. I was impressed and jealous all at once. Both Mike Tomlin and Bill Cowher have withered in the face of the great Belichick and Brady in the playoffs. I want a coach that will throw the hammer down on the accelerator and never let up.
Granted, they played a little too safe at the end of the game and I was convinced that it would come back to bite them eventually. They gave Brady way too many chances. If we’ve learned one thing it is that you do not give Tom Brady any chance at the end of the game. I guess I can understand them becoming a bit more conservative at the end of the game because you don’t want to happen to you what happened to Brady. I didn’t like it, though.
That Old Patriots Magic
Right up until the end of the game, I was convinced that the Patriots will win. Heck, even about a week later, I’m convinced that the NFL will somehow review the tape of the failed Hail Mary and determine that the pass was actually complete and then the Patriots used some obscure rule to complete a three point conversion so that they actually won the game. The Patriots winning close Super Bowls, sometimes in unexpected fashion has become a part of the NFL mythos. Years later, we are going to tell our grandkids about 28-3 and the Tuck Rule just the same as our parents and grandparents told us about the Heidi game and the Immaculate Reception.
Nearly everyone I have spoken to agrees with me. They are astounded that the Patriots did not win the game. Not only did they not win the game, but they were scrambling at the end in much the same way that other teams do against them. On the first potential game winning drive, Brady was stripped of the ball while being sacked. Then, when Philly went a bit conservative as I mentioned above, he still had a chance to potentially tie it with the Hail Mary that harmlessly fell to the ground. In any other normal Super Bowl, the first drive would have ended in a touchdown and then the following drive, the Patriots would have stripped Foles of the ball and won the game. That didn’t happen this time. Is that old Patriots magic dead at last? Did it just take an evil of equal magnitude to end their reign? Only time will tell.
The Last Word
It all hit me yesterday afternoon as I listened to the final Simmons and Sal podcast of the NFL season. It’s all over. I’m not as big a fan of football as I once was, but I’ve grown fond of my little rituals during the season. I paid attention to and cared a little bit about the Super Bowl for the first time in years. I don’t know how long this will last or if it will grow into a new fandom in my later years, but it is possible.
At the very least, writing for the web page will keep me interested. A couple of years ago, I did a preview with plans of doing picks every week and keeping track like the talking heads do. This was a weird season, though, as evidenced by my 5-6 record in the playoffs and the Patriots losing the Super Bowl in a way that they normally win them, so who knows. If it goes back to being the No Fun League again next year, I could quickly lose interest.
Yeah, I said Super Bowl. Whatchoo gonna do about it NFL? Sue me? Go ahead, do it, and I’ll bring your whole stupid farce of a league down around your heads. The Immaculate Reception and The Tuck Rule both just happened to be against the Raiders? Two franchise altering and ultimately dynasty launching plays in the playoffs against the exact same team? And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Once I’m done Alex Jonesing you, my cadre of minions will boycott everything that contains an N, and F, or an L, including your fraudulent product. I’ve already gotten 4 other people to join me in my anti-Super Bowl party and there’s many more just waiting for a ridiculous cult leader to rise from the population and lead them away from your web of lies.
Okay, did I scare them off? Yes? Whew. It was tough keeping up that insane prattling just to throw them off the scent. I just wanted them to go away so that I can freely use the word Super Bowl without fear of being sued by the league. Normally, I wouldn’t be worried, but with all of this talk of tanking ratings, concussion protocol, and terrible product on the field, I wouldn’t doubt that they’d come after some tiny web page in the corner of the internet. They might actually need the money.
Okay, now that the silliness is over, let’s get to the game. We will have time for silliness after. It is a serious and solemn occasion after all. There’s no time for silliness in a child’s game!
What Philadelphia brings to the game
Good cheese steaks that have somehow been elevated to the status of national icon. The cradle of American democracy even though the revolution started in Massachusetts. Rioting fans that somehow caused the police there to rub Crisco on light poles. At least, that’s the official story. Maybe some rogue cop there just likes rubbing Crisco on light poles. Some dude did still ascend a light pole smothered in Crisco.
Oh, I’m supposed to talk about the football team here. Apparently, Philadelphia has a great defense. They said that about Minnesota and Jacksonville, too. The former did what Minnesota does and broke their fan’s hearts by rolling over in an NFC Championship in which they could have played in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The latter played right into script by folding in the second half and letting the Patriots dance all over our broken hearts once again. So, I don’t know what to make of the Eagles defense.
We’ve seen that the way to get to Brady is the way you get to all quarterbacks. You pressure him up the middle and take away his ability to step up out of your pressure on the ends. Everyone knows the formula. So far, only a select few teams have been able to execute the strategy in the playoffs and only one has been able to in the Super Bowl. So, pardon me if I’m not overwhelmed by your ridiculous discussions of the Eagles defense.
Speaking of recency bias, how about Nick Foles! I was guilty of the same thing last week in my pick of the Vikings. Now, it seems like all of America, clinging to some faint hope of a Patriots loss, is using that logic to elevate Nick Foles to Doug Williams status. Again, I’m not going to say that he can’t do what he did against the Vikings. I’m just saying that it is highly unlikely. He’s playing against Negan Belichick and his version of Lucille, Tom Brady.
Other than those two talking points that have saturated popular culture enough to even make it into a brain that has tried to avoid all discussion of the Super Bowl these last two weeks, I think the Eagles might have a decent running back, maybe two. Their coach is apparently a guy who knows how to do football things and tell other guys how to do football things. What does it all add up to? The Eagles will use all of that to build a 10+ point lead in the first three quarters. Congratulations, guys, but a football game is 4 quarters long. That’s how math works.
What New England brings to the game
Fans that think that the NFL was founded in 2001 when football Jesus descended from the football heavens above with a football shirt and pants on his body, and a football hat on his head. Fans that used to be known for rioting and occasionally urinating on one another in drunken fits of drunkeness, but are now much more sophisticated and refined in their drunken behavior. Stephen King, though he’s more of a baseball fan and I think he might have somehow avoided Patriots fever. Probably his experience with Captain Tripps. Clam chowder that has rightly been elevated to national icon status.
And, again, here we are at the place where I have to talk about football. Everyone tells me that this Patriots defense is not as good as Patriots defenses of the past. I hear that Tom Brady is 40 years old and that father time is undefeated. There have been reports that Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and Robert Kraft had a little fight a couple of weeks ago over Jimmy G-sus and Brady’s role on the team going forward. Gronkenstein went out last game with a concussion. Edleman has been hurt for much of the season. I’m here to tell you that none of this means a damn thing.
You can cling to whatever sliver of hope speaks to your stupid little heart. I’ve seen this story in some form or another many times over the past decade. I don’t suffer entertainment that becomes so predictable as to be boring. And, I don’t suffer false hope. Do not. I repeat. Do not hate watch this game thinking that the Eagles will win. You will waste 4 hours of your life.
The Gordian Aiden
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned in this article that I haven’t watched the Super Bowl in over a decade. I’ve had to say it so much to so many people that it doesn’t even sound like real words to me anymore. Well, I haven’t. I took an assessment of my life, a la my Skyrim days and I decided that I didn’t like the person I was becoming in regards to the NFL. There were other triggers, as well, and I didn’t like how other people in my life were falling into the gravitational pull of the league either. We’d be on vacation and people would disappear into a bar to watch the Patriots game instead of doing vacation things. It’s almost a disorder.
Instead of the Super Bowl, our family has thrown an anti-Super Bowl party. We watch a marathon of movies or TV shows together and I still cook food as if we were watching the Super Bowl. Potato skins, chicken fingers, nachos, pizza, etc. We just don’t watch the game. Well, it got out that Aiden wants to watch the game this year. It’s most likely because his friends are talking about it. That brings up a bit of a dilemma. Christine hates football. I’ve gotten used to not watching the game. But, we also don’t want to dictate what he does with his life.
Well, my friend Craig, who I’ve mentioned a few times on the page, invited us over. He was very careful with his words because he knows that the only one in the family who wants to watch the game is Aiden. I told him in no uncertain terms that I have no interest in the game. I’m not playing that up to make this article seem more intellectually honest as being “completely ignorant”. I don’t want to watch a single minute of this game. I don’t want to see highlights. I don’t want to know stats or the score. It will be impossible to do so, of course, but the longer I can stem the tide of Patriots revulsion, the better I will be for it.
So, I’m not sure how I’m going to do it, but I think we might end up at his place. He’s got a big place and I can avoid the game without seeming too antisocial. Christine likes to hang out and talk with his wife and he says the only other people that are there are Patriots haters. I wish them well in their hate watch, but I’m not falling for it this time.
I’m 5-5 so far in these playoffs. I don’t know if my crystal ball is just foggy. I’ve gone 8-2 in my ignorant picks as recently as three years ago. Maybe this NFL season was just especially wacky. I have to admit that I never thought at the beginning of the season that I’d be picking between the Vikings and Eagles in the NFC Championship or that the Jaguars would beat my Steelers in a game in which the two teams scored 87 points combined.
But, here we are. I mentioned last week that choosing this game is like choosing between sawing off my leg and bleeding to death vs. letting the rot slowly spread through my body. It’s an apt metaphor and the main reason that I can’t hate watch this game. I hate the Patriots. That’s been established. I hate the Eagles just as much, if not more. That’s in the DNA of every red blooded Pittsburgher.
Who do I want to win? The answer in any Patriots Super Bowl is always “not the Patriots”. Who are “not the Patriots” this year? Well, fate being the cruel mistress she is, they are the Eagles. So, the true answer is, “I don’t care. Just end this stupid spectacle already.” Well, what about the commercials, you may think. I feel like the commercials peaked about 5 or 6 years ago just before they started releasing them online before the game. Huh, I guess I am somewhat affected by spoilers. The halftime show? Justin Timberlake? Eh, sure, I guess. What’s he gonna do, dress as a troll and sing with Anna Kendrick? I’d tune in for that. Maybe. Prop bets? Not a gambler.
Who do I think will win? Crazy things can happen. Somehow in the recent past, we went sideways in time and now exist in the universe where Donald Trump is president of the USA. However, I don’t see any way that the Eagles win this one. Heck, I’ll take the loss and go 5-6 in these playoffs to be wrong. But, even if they did, so what?
We are in that weird time in the NFL season where they inexplicably take a week off between their conference championships and the Super Bowl. ‘At least they haven’t gotten as crazy as the NCAA who has a month in between the final games of the season and their National Championship game. ‘Also, they got smart a few years ago and put the Pro Bowl on this weekend. ‘So, there is at least football happening. ‘It’s an exhibition game, but still fun to watch. ‘The added benefit is that because the Patriots almost always make the Super Bowl, I don’t have to watch any of them in the Pro Bowl. ‘I have to find the positive of the Patriots always making the Super Bowl.
There isn’t much to say about this game. ‘I got it completely wrong. ‘First, I thought the Vikings would win. ‘Nope. ‘Second, I thought it would at least be a close game. ‘Nope. ‘I honestly don’t know what happened or how the Eagles blew them out because I was so burned out on football after watching the latest episode of “Tom Brady Hulks Out” that I paid absolutely no attention to this game.
I was listening to Simmons and Sal this morning for during my commute and they talked a little bit about how the Viking could have won the game if only a few things had gone differently. ‘I know that sounds weird with the final score as lopsided as it was, but if you watch sports, you understand. ‘I used to have a Steelers web page and for every game recap I had a section called “5 big plays” in which I highlighted the plays that I thought contributed to the outcome of the game. ‘Apparently, Simmons and Sal studied my old web page while putting together their notes for this show.
I will just chalk this one up to recency bias. ‘I hadn’t watched a single Vikings game all year and then I watched the first half of their playoff game against the Saints. ‘I had also heard most of the year how dominant their defense was this year. ‘I put those things together along with Nick Foles instead of Carson Wentz as the Eagle quarterback and I came up with a Viking win. ‘Hey, I do promise that these things are done out of complete ignorance.
Truth be told, the Eagles might have been worse off with Wentz at QB. ‘I know that he’s not strictly a rookie, but he might as well have been. ‘The playoffs traditionally (as long as you aren’t playing an overconfident Steelers or Saints team) don’t favor inexperienced quarterbacks, so who knows what would have happened if Wentz hadn’t gotten hurt. ‘I think we all know that the one constant is that the Philly fans would have rioted.
A Note About “Eff the Pats”
I was talking to a colleague yesterday afternoon in between classes. ‘We got on the topic of football and she mentioned how much she liked to watch it on television. ‘I hedged a bit because I do live in New England, they just won a big game, everyone is happy, and I am most certainly not. ‘So, I said, “I like to watch college.” ‘She replied, “I like to watch any football, but there is one team that I absolutely will not watch.” ‘Oh boy, I thought, she’s going to get me to admit that I hate the Patriots and this conversation will end awkwardly.
I took a deep breath and jumped right in. ‘”Me, too,” I said, “and the problem is that I just happen to live right in the middle of where they are located.” ‘Her eyes narrowed. ‘”Wait, do you not like the Patriots?” ‘I shrugged. ‘Here it goes. ‘”Nope.” ‘She held out a hand and I flinched because I thought she might pretend to slap me. ‘When I recovered, she was still holding her hand up. ‘It all clicked. ‘She wanted me to high five her. ‘She was in the same boat as I was.
We commiserated about our Patriots hatred and how it was all so misunderstood by the Patriots “fans” in our lives. ‘”Oh, you’re so bitter because they just win everything.” ‘”You’re just jealous because they always beat your team.” And, my favorite, “You hate us because you ain’t us.” ‘Yes, that must be it. ‘Hey, if you want to have a valid conversation about why I hate the Patriots, then we can. ‘If you are going to reply to me with generalities and memes in any conversation, I’m going to assume you don’t have the necessary brain functions to hold a conversation and I’m just going to walk away.
As the picture above (which, yes, is a meme, so just walk away) indicates, I have always hated the Patriots. ‘The seed for my hatred might be a bit silly and I’ve never been able to properly explain it especially to Patriots fans, but who knows what causes something to lock into the brain of a slightly sports obsessed preteen boy. ‘Heck, I remember praying to a God that I didn’t believe to help the Michigan Fab Five win a college basketball game. ‘If you are really concerned about my Patriots hatred, the seed is this story‘that I read one night from the Football Hall of Shame.
As I said to Chris (an actual Patriots fan and one of the few people that I feel bad about expressing my hatred around) today, the universe just has a sense of humor. ‘It has seen fit to drop me in the middle of Patriots country during their rise to power. ‘It makes me look like one of the bitter Steelers fans. ‘I am, to some extent, but I’m also a complex person. ‘I’ve seen the Steelers go to 3 Super Bowls and win 2. ‘I’ve seen Antonio Brown channel Lynn Swann. ‘Don’t worry about me. ‘I’m good. ‘This isn’t about some silly “rivalry”. ‘This hate flows deep and long. ‘That’s what she said.
Patriots fans: ‘What suspense! ‘What drama!
Me: ‘What suspense? ‘What drama?
Right after the game, I texted my friend Craig, “It’s always the same script. ‘Seriously, how does anyone root for this stupid team.” ‘He tried to get me going because that’s what he does, but I just shut him down with, “I’m done with this sham of a league.” ‘Because, seriously, did anyone really think this game was going to end any differently?
How many of these “once in a lifetime” comebacks do you have to see before you know the ending, Patriots fans? ‘Chris, making fun of me, texted, “Hmm I’�ll write it for you, they cheat, deflate footballs, Bill is Emperor Palpatine, ..etc. lol sound about right?” ‘I replied, “I don’t write for ESPN.”
Besides, the Patriots saga is more like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. ‘Now, I haven’t watched a minute of Game of Thrones and I stopped watching The Walking Dead years ago. ‘However, I keep my finger on the pulse of pop culture just enough to understand the basic plot of these two shows. ‘They manipulate their viewers to start to think that their favorite characters maybe, just maybe, will survive the latest onslaught, only to pull the rug out from under them at the end of the episode with “the most thrilling ending ever!” ‘”You just have to see this! ‘Don’t let social media spoil this for you!” ‘The Patriots do the exact same damn thing every single game. ‘I don’t hate them for this. ‘I just find it boring.
One last point. ‘During my conversation yesterday, the topic of “tin foil hat conspiracy theories” came up. ‘I’m not going to go too Cigarette Smoking Man on you right now. ‘I’m going to save that for after the Super Bowl. ‘Inspired by one of my conversations with Chris, I have a story that I went full X-Files with. ‘I want to flesh it out a bit and have some fun with it. ‘Look for it in a couple of weeks.
Because I don’t have television and I’m not going to go out of my way to get consistently punched in the gut until I become immune to it, I didn’t actually watch the Jaguars/Patriots game. ‘I kept an eye on it via GameCenter. ‘At no point did I ever think the Jaguars would win the game. ‘Even as Chris was admitting to being a bit nervous because the Jags were up 10, I knew the Patriots would come back. ‘There’s no way the NFL would allow the Jags in the Super Bowl. ‘That just wouldn’t happen.
And here’s where I start to get fitted for my tin foil hat and I start to sound like the “hate us because you ain’t us” crowd. ‘I’m not going to accuse the NFL of a conspiracy (except, you know, I just kind of did), but I find it odd. ‘I did watch the entire second half of the Steelers game and watched an injured Antonio Brown make a circus catch because one of the Jaguars was draped all over him like a cape. ‘Brown scored the TD, so it didn’t matter, but as we’ve seen time and time again, games change on pass interference calls. ‘It changed the tide of Saints/Vikings.
Look I get that the referees didn’t give up 42 points to the Jags. ‘The referees didn’t overlook an inferior team. ‘I just find it odd. ‘A team that only received ‘3 penalties for 40 yards against the Steelers suddenly imploded against the Patriots and got 98 penalty yards on 6 penalties. ‘Meanwhile, the Steelers got 3 penalties for 25 yards (so comparable), while the Patriots committed only 1 penalty for 10 yards. ‘It’s just odd.
Because I’m bound by an imaginary contract (that I wrote, amended, and signed), I will do a Super Bowl spectacular next week. ‘I’m not in the least bit excited about it. ‘As a Steelers fan and a lifelong Patriots hater, choosing which team I want to win is like deciding whether to saw off my leg and bleed to death or let the rot slowly spread to infect my entire body.
Post Mortem on the Divisional Round (and the elephant in the room that is my Steelers)
Not much to say about the Patriots game. I was 100% correct on that one. I was about 50% correct on the Eagles vs. Falcons game as that game was more or less a toss up during the Falcons last possession of the game. I was dead wrong about the Steelers game and I don’t even know how to score the Vikings game since they went from about a 22% chance to win to over 98% chance to win after that touchdown. What it all boils down to is a 2-2 record in the divisional round and overall 4-4 for the playoffs.
Okay, let’s talk about my Steelers. I tuned the game out at halftime and then we went over to visit Christine’s parents. My father in law said to me as I walked into the house, “Tie game.” I responded with the appropriate shocked reaction and then learned that the Steelers were actually down by 7 points. Well, that was enough to hook me for the rest of the game. I’m sorry that I did. That was a pathetic display against what we were told by all of the experts was an inferior team led by a subpar quarterback. I can accept being beaten by the Patriots (no, I can’t), but to continually lose every year with the amount of talent they have is unacceptable.
I was texting with Chris during the game and my assessment was, “I like Tomlin, but that game was an abomination. It might be time to start talking about him going.” It was in the heat of the moment and I’ve had some time to cool off. I don’t feel any different. I know that nothing will come of it, but maybe they will at least make an example out of Haley? Who am I kidding? I’ll meet you back here next year, just as dejected as I am right now.
NFL Championship Weekend
Now, for this weekend. I’m going to do things a little bit differently here. (a) Because I’m a math nerd and I have to get my brain ready for the new semester, (b) because sometimes I just like to switch things up every now and then, and (c) we all know that the Patriots are going to repeat as champions this year, so why not have some fun this weekend. I’ve looked up the probabilities for each team to make the Super Bowl atPlayoff Statusand used those to figure out the probabilities of each match up for the Super Bowl. I will analyze each of those from least to most likely and then make my pick at the end. Hope this works!
Least Likely Matchup(10.35%) – Jaguars vs. Vikings
The Jaguars are massive underdogs to the Patriots this week and the Vikings are just below a coin toss at the Eagles. I’m rooting for the Jags for two reasons. First, eff the Pats. Second, long ago my dad instilled in me that you want to root for the team that beat you because then you can soothe your wounds by saying at least you lost to the champs. When the Pats usually beat the Steelers, these two are at odds with one another. Not so far this year. Watching the Vikings dismantle Drew Brees and the Saints for a half after watching the debacle that was my Steelers makes them my new favorite team.Verdict: I guess you could say that my heart wishes for this one.
Only Slightly More Likely (12.65%) – Jaguars vs. Eagles
Considering I never thought either of these two teams would even sniff the conference championships, you could say that I’m surprised that this is even a possibility, let alone the fact that it happens in about 1/8 universes that are currently in existence. The schadenfreude in me wants to see exactly what they’d talk about in the 2 weeks leading to the game and then in the 12 hours of pregame on the actual day of the game. Nevermind, I know. It would be all about Blake Bortles, World Beater. Get in line, hosers, he got me a championship first.Verdict: Nobody wishes for this horror show of a game.
Happens In Over a Third of Possible Universes (34.65%) – Patriots vs. Vikings
After my Steelers lost, I was in quite the tizzy. I went from wanting to see Brady vs. Brees to wanting to see Minnesota’s defense against Brady. I may have settled on that last one. I don’t want Tom Brady anywhere near the Super Bowl again, but if Minnesota can do to Brady for the whole game what they did to Brees for a half, sign me up for that. It would almost be worth it to listen to WEEI for a week or two and hear all of the Southies lose their crap.Verdict: This is the game that I really want to see.
Most Likely Scenario (42.35%) – Patriots vs Eagles
Brady vs. Foles. Really? I mean, we’ve heard that the Eagles have just as good a defense as the Vikings and they sort of proved it by shutting down Atlanta for the whole game instead of just a half. I’m just not as excited about the possibility of Nick Foles being in the Super Bowl as not only did I become a fan of the Vikings defense, but I think I might have a slight man crush on Case Keenum now.Verdict:Other than Pats fans who just want that ring (baby!), does anyone really want to see this game happen?
I already told you that I want Pats and Vikes. I also think that this is the game that is likely to happen. First, Nick Foles is not Drew Brees. I’m pretty sure that Minnesota can shut him down for an entire game instead of just the half. Also, as Bill Simmons mentioned in his emergency podast to discuss the past weekend games, the Vikings have the stink of destiny on them. They won that Saints game in impossible fashion. They could become the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. It just feels right. You may notice that I didn’t even mention the Pats/Jags game. In spite of his shredding of my woefully unprepared Steelers team, Blake Bortles isn’t doing the same to a Bill Belichick prepared team.
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