Loss Leader

For the fourth consecutive year, I will not be in the AUFL playoffs. After crowing about how my team was in the top half of points scored in the league, I finished in 8th, which represents the last playoff spot. I didn’t lose my final game due to starting the Giants D over the Colts or by starting Brett Favre over Philip Rivers. I lost by 18 and those moves would have netted me 16 and 17 points, respectively. Like in most alternative history novels, it’s a bit much to ask for two major changes.

I did get lucky by matching up with the worst team in the league in the “opening round” of our loser playoffs. The “winner” of these playoffs gets the number one draft pick next year. The “loser” gets their team renamed. It’s not pretty.

What did we learn this week in the NFL? December is tough. The Jets were the league’s darlings and then tanked two in a row. The Giants were clearly the best team in the league and had no answers for the Eagles and Brian Westbrook. The Falcons couldn’t win in New Orleans. The Cowboys choked away a winnable game. The Titans are the class of the AFC. I can’t vouch for whether they will play that way in the playoffs. The Steelers and Ravens look like the toughest possible opponents. It’s good that they get to beat up on each other next weekend.

Sadly, it’s almost time to start thinking about 2009. I can’t wait for the “when are the Titans going to have a bona fide receiver?” stories.

One final note on why pro is better than college: It’s never clear who the best team in college football. The most frustrating item, the polls, is what makes the sport so compelling. The writers contribute to the polls, and what they compose leaves an impression that helps influence the polls. In the NFL, every half-rate writer comes up with a league “power ranking”. The best part is those rankings mean nothing besides creating water-cooler discussions. The best team is the team that wins. There are no style points. No coach feels like he has to score that extra touchdown in garbage time. Just win. Mike Tomlin called yesterday’s win over the Cowboys “beautiful football” and he was right.

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