Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day week! The real playoffs came and went. The result was a 3-1 record. Not bad, but that one loss was the New England Patriots losing in the final game of the weekend. How can this happen? What are the motivations for such an event? It is all a story, a tale of coming and going. But first let us get to the games that happened leading up to this, shall we? Speaking of ends, let me spend some time wrapping up the week that was.
Playoff Football and Intensity
There appears to be a situation happening in football that reminds me of the NBA. The games on playoff weekend are amped up. The games appear to be a last-ditch effort of combatants in an all out fight. The only thing I can make it equivalent to in the real world appears to be fighting gorillas. They fight, there is blood, one is the victor and the other leaves the field with much shame. Let’s have at it, shall we?
It all started with the Steelers of Pittsburgh hosting the Ravens of Baltimore. Baltimore took advantage of some early turnovers and penned their way to an early 21-7 lead. But strange turnovers, strange officiating on both sides of the ball and strange decision making resulted in a comeback win for the Steelers. The game was back and forth and very entertaining. Home field and chippy play appeared to serve the Steelers well. The Steelers come out on top, 31-24.
Then the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers went ‘all that’ on the Atlanta Falcons. The game started off with a 7-0 lead for Atlanta in the first quarter and then Green Bay went crazy and the Packers let everyone know why they let Brett Favre go in 2007. Rodgers is that good. His arm is electric and his legs are second only to Michael Vick. Green Bay smokes Atlanta, 48-21.
The first game on Sunday in a snowstorm was very lethargic. The Seattle Seahawks visited the Chicago Bears, and the Seahawks played very conservatively for a team that got into the playoffs with a 7-9 record. I mean, come on! Give us some desperation, here. They didn’t, and despite outscoring the Bears 24-14 in the second half, they lost 35-24. The first eight possessions for Seattle, eight punts! Then down 28-0 on fourth down, on your ninth possession, what do you do? Why kick a field goal, of course. Really?
The last game saw the Patriots of New England riding an eight-game winning streak against the Jets of New York. These teams are bitter rivals, and the game started out with strange events. The Jets appeared to be jittery and the Patriots looked to be the same team that won 45-3 in week 13. But then an interception followed by a missed touchdown pass and yet a fourth-down play with a minute or so to go in the half resulted in a 17-point eventual swing. The Patriots lost by seven and the Jets cashed in on all the checks that their brash talking wrote. Touche Jets, touche.
Just how does that happen?
When All Seems Improbable … Well Take That
Human beings are the strangest bunch when it comes to group think. Group think also could be called “the flavor of the day.” The term that seems to resemble this the most is myopia. The inability to look out over the horizon makes for a conclusion on the basis of incomplete data. There appears on the surface that there would be no way the Jets could win the game in Foxboro. The Patriots were 8-0 this year at home and 11-2 at home in the playoffs lifetime. But mistakes and consequences of those mistakes do not reveal themselves until the Patriots miss a fake punt, allow a touchdown and then fail to score on the opening drive of the second half. The game clock was moving at the speed of light and the Patriots’ offense was moving at the speed of sound. Several times I saw Tom Brady look off receivers that were open for third-down completions to try for another option. This is out of character for Brady, and it must have been the Jets’ defensive schemes.
Now, you know this has been going on since David vs. Goliath. The part that is amazing in all of this is how surreal the game becomes because the Jets are cashing in on mistakes while the Patriots were taking the dare from the Jets defense and trying to run the ball. It made for a strange game, where the pace of play did not match the intensity of the banter leading up to the game.
Think about all the other things that happen in the real world like the Patriots. For example – in financial markets like when the Dow reached 6,440.08 in March 2009. There were articles about Dow 5,000 and then the Dow goes straight up 60 percent for 11 months. Or the weather! Iran got snow yesterday. I thought the world was getting warmer?
Oh that group think. But let’s get back to football. And then there were four!
First up on Sunday is a getting-better-every-play Green Bay Packers team versus the Bears of Chicago. I have news for you, Bears fans. The Green Bay Packers are not the Seattle Seahawks. So look for a big game all-around from the Packers and a confused Jay Cutler forced to throw it around the town. When Cutler throws it around the town, nothing good happens. Look for a Packers win.
The second game features the New York Jets visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers. I believe you will understand the definition of hangover in this one game. Watch for the Steelers defense to confuse Mark Sanchez. Watch for the Steelers offense to take advantage of the New York Jets defense. How can a team rally itself to win when it already won its biggest game of the year? The Steelers in a strangely close defensive battle.
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