Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Football Blogging--Post-Divisional Edition 

First thing I'll do is, I think, probably piss off the Bears fan readers. All year this was 2001 repeated, in only a slightly different form. In 2001, the Bears went 13-3, but, as you will recall, there were a couple miraculous victories in that bunch--some hail marys, some improbably Mike Brown interception returns. Like this year, that division had two teams with 5 or fewer victories. And like this team, that team had a great defense, surrendering 203 points (the 2005 Bears gave up 202 points). And, both teams gave up serious points in their playoff losses--33 to Philly in 2002, and 29 to Carolina in 2006.

All this by way of saying that both teams, in my opinion, were paper tigers. Now, I don't remember the Chicago-Philly playoff game in 2002, but I do remember this weekend's Carolina game, and, well, that Bears defense was no Ravens 2000 defense (or Bears 1985 defense, but I don't remember that, either). So, there you go.

Now, on to the other Sunday game, Pittsburgh at Indy. This game has pretty much been analyzed to death (and for good reason!), so I'm not going to waste your time. I do want to link to King Kaufman in Salon yesterday, as he talked about something I was screaming about Sunday--namely, that a catch is a catch if the guy catches it, and we needn't spend time worrying about "football moves" and all that bullshit. Similarly, "down by contact" really just means "tackled", so I don't understand why annoucners and officials harp on those magic words, either. And, in general, instant replay has somehow begun sucking royally, and either needs to be fixed or just done away with.

This weekend, we have Pitt at Denver and Carolina at Seattle. All of sudden, after hearing for weeks how great the home teams have fared thoughout playoff history, it's now cool to pick the road teams, especially these two road teams. To be sure, these teams seem to have figured something out about playing on the road, but to win in Denver in January--that's a pretty tough task.

Anyway, on a more personal note, a weird thing that's happened is that I have some sort of real rooting interest in the Steelers, and, well, that just shouldn't be. I'm a true-blue Browns fan, and therefore should hate the Steelers. I think there are three reasons for this, though: (1) I like the Steelers at the individual level--Bettis, Roethlisberger, Ward, Porter, Cower--I mean, those are guys I'd like to have on my team; (2) for three years in college Cleveland had no team and the guy I watched football with almost every Sunday was a Steelers fan, and unlike, say, watching Bears games with my Bears fans friends, doing this didn't make me like the team less; and (3) with Cleveland so bad all these years, how can I really get all that worked up about a divisional rivalry?

Predictions: I really have no idea. Maybe everyone is right and both road teams will win. Or maybe not.
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