Like Mrs. Brady (see above), the results of the Super Bowl left me pondering what could have been for the other 31 teams that didn’t get the chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy. So just like Gisele, I feel the need to get these final observations off my chest without any makeup on.
1 – Regular season record doesn’t matter, just get in the playoffs: For some reason, it’s turned into a big deal that the Giants were the first team to win the Super Bowl that didn’t have 10 wins or more. In fact, I remember watching the G-Men on December 18, as my Skins ripped them in the Meadowlands, right after the Giants won their biggest game of the year the previous week in Dallas. I said to myself then, “the Giants won’t make it to the playoffs.” Not even the Super Bowl, the playoffs. So what happened between December 18 and February 5?
I don’t want to say that the NFL regular season is useless, but in today’s league, the line between a win and a loss is thinner than the line between love and hate. Don’t believe me? Ask LBC about his Cowboys, or any Eagles fan out there. Ask the Bears fans when Cutler went down right when they were playing their best ball. Ask Denver, who may have had the worst playoff team in recent memory. Ask the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Games are decided by a fumble either rolling out-of-bounds or into your team’s hands. It’s a tipped pass here, a missed call there, a throw to the wrong shoulder. It could come down to you thinking that God has destined you to win over your opponent. Teams are so evenly matched, you can play two teams 10 times and the record would be 5-5. It wasn’t like that in 1992, but in 2012 parity rules. Was the Bengals and Giants the same team (they both finished 9-7)? The
Bengals played the AFC South and NFC West, two of the most terrible divisions in the league and only finished 9-7. In fact, the best team they beat record-wise was Arizona at 8-8. Meanwhile the Giants played a grueling 6-game stretch, which featured 4 teams from this year’s divisional round, and don’t forget the NFC East. They did most of it with Brandon Jacobs as starting running back. Whose 9-7 looks best? That’s why you just want to get in the playoffs. The cream rises to the top in this league; if you’re good enough to get in the playoffs, you’re good enough to have a chance to win the Super Bowl
2 – Defense Still Wins Championships: At least, have a defense that can make a stop or two when you need it. Look at the Patriots; they were bailed out in the AFC Championship Game by a drop and a shanked kick, but everyone knew that if Joe Flacco didn’t screw up, the Ravens would march right down the field. So when Eli Manning moseyed on the field, did you think the Patriots defense had a chance? I’m sure Patriots fans were hoping for a field goal and enough time to for Brady to score again. Bill Simmons said it best in his Super Bowl defense, a smoke and mirrors defense will be exposed at this level of competition. Patriots will definitely sure that up in the offseason. You don’t need the Ravens defense anymore to win (unless your QB is Trent Dilfer-like) but can you at least make a stop?
3 – The Future of the League Hangs in the Balance: While Eli Manning was stopping Tom Brady from becoming the greatest QB of all-time, another QB that’s in that discussion was cleared to play next year. Ironically, this all happened in Indianapolis. I don’t
want you to underestimate how critical this next month will be, not just to the Colts future, but the future of the NFL. Imagine the possibilities of the Peyton sweepstakes? Will the Colts pay him or cut him? Will they trade him or trade the #1 pick? If the Colts trade the pick, that means another franchise gets Andrew Luck. Where does that leave RGIII? Will the Colts have the picks necessary for a Super Bowl run? Suppose of Peyton leaves (which seems the likely scenario); imagine him in a Jets uniform. We could have an all New York Super Bowl in 2014. Imagine him in a Dolphins uniform under the shadow of Dan Marino. Imagine him in the NFC East; is he what Dallas and Philadelphia needs to put them over the top? Could he survive in Washington, the city that loves stop-gap measure like this one? Imagine him in the desert with Larry Fitzgerald for 3 years. The NFC West could be the most formidable division in the league (imagine that).
Or how about the most morbid of images, Peyton on any team laying on the turf, unable to move his extremities after what looked like the most routine of plays. That’s a future none of us want, but could very well come true if his neck is not as whole as doctors say it is. Whatever the path that Peyton takes, just know that he will go down as one of the greatest of his generation. In fact, he’s so great, we look down on him for not accomplishing more (1 SB trophy, 9-10 in playoffs). But don’t get me wrong, I think Peyton is still better than his brother and will be an all-time great when it’s all said and done.
It’s gonna be a crazy offseason, but we’ll sort it all out for you right here on the Mancave as 32 teams and Peyton Manning get ready to book a trip to New Orleans next year. Hope your team makes all the right moves because it’s a thin line between victory and wait til next year.