And so it begins. It’s time for the NFL playoffs once again, and for those suffering fans whose favorite team hasn’t already been eliminated from playoff contention, hope and excitement still exist for the new one and done season that begins today. Veins of numerous couch potatoes in homes across our landscape, are flowing with high octane adrenaline, and visions of grandeur floods our minds. We imagine our favorite players hoisting the Lombardi Trophy high above their heads, and under falling confetti, on Super Bowl Sunday next month. Bragging rights and bravado will be on the line as well, and the approaching pain and agony from crushing losses and ill-timed controversies looms large.
Wild-Card weekend! What rings of do or die more than that? Eight teams enter today’s contest with inspirations of moving onto next week, but only four teams will survive. Sportscasters, football analysis experts, and Monday morning quarterbacks everywhere, will make their bold predictions with extreme confidence, but the same old cliché still applies. The games must be decided on the field.
Being a New England Patriot’s homer, my excitement begins next week. However I have a high interest in today’s Wild-Card games, to see who their next victim will be… excuse me, I meant opponent. Honestly, I’m very concerned for the Patriots chances of a repeat this year. I believe that they have eighteen players on injured reserve, and have played bad football for them in recent weeks. Maybe I’m spoiled. Some injured players like Julian Edelman, are expected to return for their first playoff game, but I find it difficult to believe that the Pats can immediately flip a switch and play great again. The offensive line has been an injury disaster as well, and they’ve struggled to keep Tom terrific from getting pummeled by opposing defensive lines. The injuries might be too much to overcome. We shall see.
Seemingly every team has been snake bitten with injuries this season, and I can’t remember a year when I’ve seen this much decimation and personnel loss across the league. The Cincinnati Bengals were once a favorite to win it all, but that dramatically changed after they lost their starting quarterback in a game against the Steelers. It makes me glad that I didn’t play Fantasy Football this year. Nothing rings last place or is more frustrating than losing one or more of your top point getters!
In the AFC, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs will make a lot of noise, as do many. I’m hoping for a Patriots verses Steelers, AFC championship game, but my gut is telling me otherwise. Winners between Denver, KC, Pats, and Steelers are all up in the air for grabs, and I give the Texans no shot today. I also suspect that the eventual Super Bowl winner is coming from the NFC, but I hope that I’m wrong.
Speaking of the NFC, I’m looking forward to seeing which team emerges from that juggernaut league. Carolina and Arizona are the healthiest while also being loaded with the most talent, and both are playing like world beaters. Don’t forget that Seattle is also on fire! It’s going to be a dog fight all the way through. What is my gut telling me? Carolina emerges from the pack because of home-field advantage. Arizona has more overall speed and talent, but I think the Panthers are the more physical team, and will impose their will on whoever they play. Then they will face the…hmm…okay, I’m a homer. Patriots and the Panthers meet in the Super Bowl for a rematch of 2004! Go Patriots!
What say you?