Here are my quick thoughts on today’s games. We have three of the most successful franchises in NFL history and the Jets. To be fair, the Jets didn’t exist until 1963, and they are the only team of the four not to lose a Super Bowl.
If my memory of yesterday’s brief foray into pre-game madness on the NFL Network is correct, the Packers have 12 “World Championships”, the Bears have 9, and the Steelers have 6. The Steelers have to lead the NFL with today being their 15th AFC title game. That’s 15 times they’ve been one of the top two teams in the AFC in the 41 years that there has been an AFC. The Steelers by far were the top beneficiaries of switching leagues when the NFL and AFL merged. Could you imagine the Steelers and the Cowboys battling it out for the NFC crown for the entire decade?
When I saw that it was their 15th AFC title game I thought “man, they really blew it a lot”. That’s one way to look at it. They are 7-7 in league championship games, including a rough stretch during the Cowher years in which they seemed to host the game almost ever y year and found a way to lose. Of course, when the Steelers get to the big game, they almost always win it. It’s best to lose before the big game, as fans of the Vikings and Bills might suggest.
The Packers have three road wins during the regular season and are looking for their third straight road playoff win. They struggled a bit on offense in Philly compared to the onslaught in Atlanta. The difference, besides Atlanta pass-rushers being unable to tackle, was the elements. A cold Chicago should even things up a bit, and the Bears have the “little things” edge. The Packers are more talented, but a boatload of injuries has left them without the depth necessary to compete on special teams. So, the Packers’ punter should kick the ball out of bounds or as high as the speakers in the new Dallas stadium every time to force a fair catch.
The Jets played a special game last week. When it comes to underdogs on a roll in the playoffs, we’ve seen both sides. We’ve seen teams get breaks and play over their heads, only to falter at the end of the race like the 1999 Titans, and we have a team that keeps the momentum going all the way through like the 2007 Giants. And we have the 2006 Steelers, who didn’t exactly bring their A game but faced a team that played even worse in the Seahawks. The Jets aren’t going to implode. After beating the Peyton Mannings and the Tom Bradys, they aren’t going to suffer from stage fright.
I made a major step in my progression from manuscript to novel yesterday. I have written the first draft of a manuscript with the main theme being a year in the life of a fantasy football league. I recently put together a 2011 draft that will be the basis of that season. I shared my draft with the excellent Bryan Fontaine of Pro Football Focus, rookieblitz.com and dynastyblitz.com. I didn’t want to miss on any rookies or veterans. My two “whiffs” were having Ryan Broyles coming out when he decided to go back to Oklahoma and I had Tony Gonzalez retiring. I guess Tony G doesn’t want to retire without a playoff win.