Sports Opinion & Analysis

Parting of the Ways

In Media, NFL on December 13, 2012 at 7:59 am

by Chris Carosi

With three weeks left in this typically ridiculous NFL season, all the pieces seem to be moving towards a finish. Let’s take a look at what appears to be true and if it will be pan out by season’s end:

1. Manning Brady Manning Brady Manning Brady etc. etc. etc.

To the glee and delight of network executives across these United Estates, the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos and the Tom Brady coerced New England Patriots will probably be meeting in the AFC playoffs barring any crazy upsets (please god) in the second round. If the NFL’s wet dream truly comes to fruition, the two will meet on the snowy grounds of Foxboro (or Denver actually, if the Broncos get lucky) with the entire universe watching and many pointless cuts to Brady or Manning standing around doing nothing on the sideline while the other is on the field. When that happens, I will be extraordinarily drunk and rooting for both defenses to crush the bones of these two gentlemen. Oh wait, that’s part of why the media is so excited. You win this round, NFL. God help us all if the Patriots make it to another Super Bowl.

Is it true? Yeah I guess. Damn it.

“Pssh, talk to me after you’ve impregnated TWO supermodels.”

2. The AFC North is a collection of beta bullies.

All three AFC North teams lost last week in games they probably should have won. While the Steelers flounder the energy of enormous upsets with soul-crushing losses to terrible teams, the Ravens are just crappy right now, and the Bengals are… the Bengals. Without a doubt, two of these three teams will make the playoffs. But which? Who will stand up for what they believe in?! Let’s review:

Baltimore

  • Fired their offensive coordinator
  • Have a quarterback that plays like he’s asleep
  • Lost to Charlie Batch (!) on their home field
  • Refuse to give Ray Rice more than 15 carries

Pittsburgh

  • Lost to Tennessee, Oakland, Cleveland, and San Diego (I just got disappointment chills thinking about it)
  • Have an offensive line that can’t stay healthy or consistent
  • Lost to Tennessee, Oakland, Cleveland, and San Diego (Oh god, I’m having PTSD flashbacks)

Cincinnati

  • I’ll get back to you

Is it true? Oh yes. But if a dethroning of Manning/Brady can happen, it will be one of these teams. Mark my words. For my money, the safe bet is Baltimore and Pittsburgh to make the cut; however, if Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh next week, they deserve the sixth slot. There is of course an outside possibility that all three will make the playoffs like last year. That would be something.

Every time Charlie Batch smiles, a sick child believes in miracles.

3. The Bears have imploded so far they have no concept of their basic atomic structure.

Chicago had absolute ownership of the NFC North five weeks ago. They had the territory marked and boundaries set, with chewed up honeycombs on the border or whatever the hell actual bears do in the wild. However, after they lost to Houston in a rugged, rainy game on their home field, things began to fall apart. Injuries. Lapses in their formally world-beating defense. More injuries. This week, they play a Green Bay team that has risen with Aaron Rodgers looking so cold he has to practice in a steam room just to keep his muscles alive. It’s over for Chicago unless they get lucky on the back end (Green Bay has to lose).

Is it true? Possibly. Their last two games are against Arizona and Detroit so that shouldn’t be a challenge to finish at least 10-6. They will make the playoffs, but at what cost to their sanity?

4. The 49ers will be fine.

What should have been locker room cancer has turned into locker room common cold, or maybe locker room eye boogers. I live in San Francisco, and the weird faith the “fan base” seems to have in Alex Smith is a bit strange… like, why? Dude was definitely not good until Jim Harbaugh came along. System wins, not quarterback (in this case that is). Kaepernick can play, they have an excellent receiving corps, and as long as the defense plays to their potential, they can beat anyone in the league (except St. Louis). Being a West Coast team, they are immune to media distraction (it’s all about inclusiveness in SF) so they are very much in control of their own destiny. They absolutely  need to beat Seattle convincingly at the end of the year to assert their dominance though. That will be important.

Is it true? Yes. If they can wrap up a first-round bye, they will be the favorite to go all the way.

Champions eat their Wheaties and stand sternly on the sideline.

5. Indianapolis will enter the playoffs and win at least one game.

Now this is interesting.  The Internet collectively did not give the Colts a chance (including me) and here they are staring down a very real (and improbable) possibility of a playoff berth with nothing to lose. The Colts play Houston twice in the last two weeks. Yowzah. Two good things about that for the Colts:

  1. If the Colts want to prove they can hang, they can prove it by winning one of those games. Boom. Done.
  2. Houston might rest some starters in the Week 17 match-up. This will give Indy an opportunity for an easier win to leap frog a team like Pittsburgh or Cincinnati for the last playoff spot.

If you think about it like that, the Colts might have a better chance of making the playoffs than Cinci and/or Pittsburgh. Interesting, right? Earning a playoff berth for their coach will be enough for them to build on for next year, when the fun ends due to the dreadful weight of something called expectations.

Is it true? Yes. But they won’t win a game. Good story though.

“I vow to never wear an officially licensed ball cap to cover my Cro-Magnan brow until we make the playoffs!”

6. Houston and Atlanta scare no one.

This one is interesting because these teams get little respect for their overall record but seem to garner it because wins matter after all. I’m of the opinion that everyone starts back at 0-0 come playoff time, but one has to respect the momentum built from the regular season… that’s why they play the games (it’s not for money, dude). Houston still has a legitimate shot at the first overall seed, so they’ll likely draw a beta bully from the AFC North in the second round. That will be a rough game for them, but only in terms of physicality. The truth is that they can beat anybody on their home field because I still believe they are that good. While the New England game was scary and disappointing, it doesn’t matter in the long run. They can use that loss to fuel them.

Atlanta right now seems like the guy who only works out the glamour muscles to get laid… so he has skinny little legs and a small, un-clever brain. They haven’t won a “statement game” at all, and really they never had the opportunity. The Denver win at the beginning of the year really feels like a long time ago. The only thing they could have done to build momentum with an easy schedule is murder bad teams to assert dominance (ahem, New England), but they haven’t done that either. The impossibly scrappy New York Giants come to town this weekend, so this is their chance to get the momentum going for their run. Teams like Green Bay or San Francisco will DESTROY Atlanta in the playoffs.

Is it true? Yes, but anything can happen. Houston is in a better position to have a deep run.

“Hey, J.J. good g–ouch, ouch, my hand!”

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