Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The NFL is Poop - Conference Championships

The NFL couldn’t have planned a better matchup of two storied franchises to play in the Super Bowl. Both the Packers and Steelers have rich traditions, loyal fan bases and small markets. And their combined 9 Super Bowl titles is the most of any two teams to ever meet in a Super Bowl. None of that will matter once the game starts, but the similarities will continue. Both teams have good quarterbacks, fast wide receivers and aggressive defenses led by long-haired maniacs. The early spread of Packers by 2 ½ indicates oddsmakers think as I do. This is going to be a close, exciting game along the lines of some great Super Bowls we’ve seen in the past 10 years.

Where Did the Jets Go Wrong?
A lot of hand-wringing this week about strategic calls by Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer on the 4th quarter drive which led to a goal line stop. Without the benefit of hindsight I said the Jets should have kicked the field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 1 from the 20. But once they got to the 1, they needed to keep going even on 4th down, but I too disagree with the play calling. But one of the benefits of going for it so close to the goal line is, even if you miss, you put the other team in a very disadvantageous position. And that’s exactly what happened. Sure, they missed, but they forced a safety and after the free kick drove for a touchdown. So I don’t think the mistakes on that previous drive really cost them. They lost the game in the first half. And it had slammed shut on them when the Steelers were aggressive late in the game and completed two big passes when many teams would have just run into the line.

Jim Nantz is Gay…and Wrong
Jim Nantz gently suggested the Jets should have gone for 2 on their final touchdown, to make the game 24-20 instead of 24-19. He is blatantly wrong. First of all there was very little time left so his scenario of Jets stopping the Steelers, scoring a touchdown and then giving up a field goal seems unlikely. More plausible, Jets miss the 2, trail 24-18, give up a field goal and have no chance. Extend the game, don’t chase points, and use it only as a last resort. Those are the rules of 2-point conversions.

Caleb Who?
A valiant effort by the Chicago Bears behind 3rd string quarterback Caleb Haine to score 2 touchdowns (with a little help from passive Packers defense) and be in position to tie the game late. The big story in this game of course was Jay Cutler not playing in the second half. No one really knows how injured he was. If he thought he was too injured and someone else could do a better job, then maybe he made the right decision to give way to Haine. But because it’s only a ligament sprain, because things weren’t going his way and because he has a reputation for being a petulant prima donna, no one is giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Now the Whole Franchise is in Disarray
The Bears should be celebrating a season in which they won their division and hosted the NFC Championship game. They made major strides on offense late in the season, to go with an already strong defense. And had they lost this game under normal circumstances, hopes could be high for next season. Instead, Bears fans, coaches and players may never be able to trust their quarterback again. I think the Bears are going to trade Cutler in the offseason. To the Redskins for the 10th pick in the draft, which could very well be Cam Newton.

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