Saturday, January 05, 2013

Why I Picked Who I Picked In The NFL Playoff Bet I made against The Boy. (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

The NFL Playoff season is starting today, and while I was not that into the NFL this year, I am a little bit excited about the playoffs.

A little bit excited.  JUST A LITTLE BIT. (Sweetie never reads this blog.)
I wasn't that into the NFL this year, for a combination of reasons that boil down to:

1. Tim Tebow wasn't playing and that cost me $10 in a bet I made with one of my associates, whom I'd bet that Tebow would be starting by Week 5.

2.  Packers fans sure suck, don't they? The Packers went 11-5 this year, and all anyone in Wisconsin can talk about is how Worst Call Ever "cost" the Packers a first-round bye.

3.  The Buffalo Bills sure suck, don't they?  I have already accurately predicted that Chip Kelly would not go to Buffalo, because Buffalo is where coaches go to die.

So I didn't have much to root for or watch this season, other than Russell Wilson, who I have a love/hate relationship with because while he is good and I feel strangely happy for his level of success -- strangely because why should I care, honestly?  But Russell Wilson plays for a team owned by a man with no soul (Paul Allen) who may have success in this life, but if there were a religion that promised that in the afterlife, Paul Allen would spend all eternity doing some sort of horrible menial task while having his liver poked, I would join that religion in a heartbeat.

So I'll talk about those things a little herein while I discuss my annual bet with The Boy and how I picked the teams I'm now officially rooting for in the playoffs.

The Boy and I make a bet every year except last year for some reason, on who will win the Super Bowl.  Our bet is a t-shirt of the team that wins, bought by the loser for the winner.  (If you particularly hate the team that won but got stuck with them, you can opt out of that team's shirt.)  To make it more fun, we pick our teams at the outset of the playoffs, to give us a rooting interest in every game of the playoffs, even though I will only watch at most 2 games per week, and possibly not even that.

My picks are NOT based on any expertise or insider knowledge.  I played football once, in the sense that I played defensive line on my 8th grade flag football team and once "sacked" the quarterback in a game.  YAY FOR ME.  Other than that I have never played football.

Nor do I really understand it, not the way experts pretend to and people who play it actually do.  I'm a casual observer of sports, at best, and that casual observation dropped way off this year to the point where I was stunned to learn that the Minnesota Vikings were in the playoffs.  And also that they were still considered a professional team.

BA-DUM BUMP!  Don't forget to tip your waitress.  You've been a great crowd.

Some champion. Can't even grow a moustache.
We pick this way: One person picks first, the next person gets to pick two teams, and then we alternate.  This year, The Boy picked first.  So here's how the picks went down, in order, and why.  PLUS THOSE OTHER THOUGHTS.

The Boy picks Green Bay Packers.

NOTE: I'm a nice guy.  I told The Boy,  who loves the Packers, that he did not have to take them first, that I would not pick them anyway, because I'm a nice guy and don't want to make him root against his team. We're living in a society here, people.  There's a moral code.  Also: I don't like the Packers.  Not really.  Get better fans, Green Bay, and Aaron Rodgers? A little less smugness.

Anyway,  The Boy took the Packers, anyway, and so I took

 Denver Broncos, and Seattle Seahawks.  (Pick first or pick two is a great way to negate the power of picking first.)

I took the Broncos, honestly, because I want to win.  I don't particularly care for St. Peyton Manning, either (although I didn't think that God would hurt him as Divine Retribution for taking Tebow's job, as Pat Robertson did), But the Broncos, from what I remember or possibly imagined, are doing very well this year and The Boy said that the Broncos have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  I wanted to try to make sure that I had at least one team that had a really good shot at being in the Super Bowl AND which I wouldn't mind rooting for there.  So I get to root for St. Peyton's Broncos, but in my mind I'll be imagining it's Tebow.

As for the Seahawks: they've got Russell Wilson. That and I would like it if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl so that I get to see Packers' fans heads explode with outrage.  But the replacement refs! Worst call ever!  We were robbed! *pause to eat cheese* This sucks!  

If you think that is mean, consider that (A) The Packers played horribly in that game but blamed the refs rather than their own incompetence for losing, and (B) the Packers dropped four other games, too, including a winnable one in Minnesota last week and (C) At least one Packer fan told me that she was "pretty sure" that no kids were starving in Wisconsin when I questioned on Twitter why Wisconsinites were devoting so much energy to protesting a call in a game but devoting very little energy to making sure kids do not go to bed hungry.

See why I don't particularly want the Packers to win?

The Boy picks New England.  So apparently he's not above wanting to get a team into the Big Game -- as you legally are supposed to call the Super Bowl unless you have permission from the NFL --  either.

I chose Houston Texans.  For a long time I said that one of the immutable rules of football was that Houston would never be very good.  Then they made the playoffs and won a playoff game last year, but I brushed that off as "Oh, they just beat Cincinnati, and the Bengals have a red-headed quarterback so it's not like it was even a contest."  (More on that in a minute.) 

Then Houston was all good this year for a while, then they lost to the Packers, but then they were good, or something.  I don't know.  I just heard they were good.

Actually, HERE is the thing about Tebow.
Here's the thing about Tebow:  Why would you not play him, at some point?  I'm not talking about winning or losing.  That's not what football is about.  Football is about keeping the fans happy, and the media interested.  In that sense, it was a great idea for the Jets to trade for Tebow.  In the past few years, the Jets have made a point of getting the most controversial quarterback out there, and the media coverage and fan interest have no doubt helped their bottom line.  Tebow's Jets jersey was the number two overall selling jersey this year - behind only Manning's Broncos jersey.  That trade in QBs benefitted both teams.

Once the Jets' season was done for, fans began to turn on them -- even that one superfan of theirs, Fireman Ed or whoever-- announced he was not rooting for them or some such.  At that point, you have no real hopes of making the playoffs, so why not give the fans what they want?  Give them Tebow Time, and pump up their hopes and interest a little.  Deadspin noted in one article this year that ESPN's hyping of the mere possibility of Tebow playing allowed a Monday Night Fooball game to equal a baseball playoff game in ratings.

Fans think football is about winning and losing.  Owners ought to know otherwise, and coaches, too.  Once winning is no longer relevant -- once you're out of the playoffs -- your sole goal is to give the fans a reason to watch.  The Jets blew that one.

The Boy picks Indianapolis Colts.

I told him "I will let you take that one back, if you want."  According to Bill Barnwell on Grantland, the Colts have no real business making it into the playoffs.  Their feel-good story (winning because of #Chuckstrong) is more a product of weak competition and some luck, with a small "L".  Andrew Luck, who gets a lot of credit, has a quarterback rating of 76, which puts him below Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert, among others.  You know Blaine, right?  14 quarterbacks threw for more touchdowns than Luck did, including Trebuchet Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills.  (Luck did throw for more yards than Aaron Rodgers, a stat I include because I don't like Aaron Rodgers.)

I picked San Francisco, mainly because it gave me a chance to try to spell "Colin Kaepernick," who I think is their quarterback.  Alex Smith was their quarterback until he was benched for having a concussion and then lost his job for not being as good as the guy who took over for him while he was having a concussion, and we had some fun one day talking about whether that was fair or not: should you be replaced or passed over because you got sick and then someone did you job better than you?

Yes.   I don't even know why it's a debate.  Look, sorry, you, but this isn't "Oh, you were sick so we decided to go to Great America anyway."  It's a business.  Look at it from, say, a lawyer's perspective. What if two lawyers are working on a case, and the first lawyer, the lead guy, gets laryngitis and can't argue before the U.S. Supreme Court so the other guy handles it, and he wins, and his firm says "Nice job, Phil, you're a partner now."  (I don't know why I said it was Phil.  I suppose because he really needs it.  His wife left him, and his car broke down, and everybody likes Phil, he always brings that crazy-good dip of his to the office luncheons.  Phil is okay with me.)

Is that fair to Phil's now-forgotten, passed over colleague?  Yes.  Half of luck is being in the right place at the right time.  Kaepernick, around whom San Francisco's playoff hopes now revolve...

... it's a Copernicus joke! In a sports post!...

I'd like to take HER to a heliocentric universe. (Doesn't have to make sense. She's hot.)
... was in the right place at the right time. If Alex Smith feels bad, he can salve his wounded ego with his multimilliondollar signing bonus for going to Miami next year.

The Boy takes Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons are the single most boring sports franchise ever to exist.  I will not discuss them as I begin to fall asleep when I do so.

I take Washington Redskins. At this point in the process, it's mostly trying to avoid teams we hate and don't want to root for.  So I went with the Redskins 'cause they've got this RGIII guy.  I'm not sure who he is or what he does, but his being a third means that he's probably way more advanced than any other RG model some other team has.

The Boy picks   Baltimore.

I can't stand talking about Baltimore and The Intensely Overrated Joe Flacco's Eyebrows.  Flacco got his job because Troy Smith had laryngitis.  THAT IS A TRUE STORY. Let's discuss instead the Tiers Of Respectability, a concept I came up with yesterday driving back to my office from a hearing, and which explains why nobody will coach at Buffalo.

The "Tier Of Respectability" denotes how prestigious a coaching job is in football.  Tier ONE teams are high-prestige NFL teams. Those teams are Green Bay, Dallas, either New York team, Chicago, San Francisco, and New England.

Tier TWO teams are the most of the rest of the NFL teams.

Tier THREE teams are the bottom rung of the NFL: Buffalo, Jacksonville, and San Diego, plus some elite college teams: USC, Stanford, the big-name SEC schools, and any team that has consistently finished in the top 5 in the polls.

Tier FOUR is all other college programs.

In the coaching world, you can always move DOWN a Tier Of Respectability when you quit or get fired; to move UP a Tier Of Respectability, you have to win, or at least make a respectable run at it.  So consider Wisconsin's Brett Bielema: multiple bowl games, once a shot at the National Championship, almost, and Bielema was able to move from Tier FOUR, Wisconsin, to Tier THREE, Arkansas.

Chip Kelly, meanwhile, was a Tier THREE coach at Oregon, which consistently finished well in the polls.  He moved up a Tier to Tier TWO, at Cleveland (I heard. Maybe not?)

If Kelly wins at Cleveland, he'll have a shot at a big-time job in Tier ONE, but if he loses, he can drop to a bottom-rung NFL team or any college program other than an elite one.  That's how this works.

How that factors into the Bills' coaching search is this:  In Buffalo, you have GOT to win or your next head coaching job is at best at a second-level college program.  A listing of the Bills' head coaches over time proves that:  Wade Phillips was their last coach with a winning record.  He went on to coach the Falcons and then the Cowboys, moving up to Tiers TWO and ONE, respectively.   Philips had a 0.500 record at Denver, a Tier TWO job, which let him move down to Buffalo when he left there.

Other Bills coaches moved down to coach Buffalo and then lost and were not yet made head coaches of any other team.

Daughters: Your dad will overlook the tattoos if your boyfriend is an NFL QB.
So if you are a coach looking at Buffalo, you know that your only hope of staying at an NFL head coach level is to win, and nobody has won in Buffalo since 1999 or so.  It is where coaching careers go to die, which leads me to suspect that there is something wrong with the organization, not the players.  It's something in the front office that is killing the team, the way the Lions have been mostly terrible for years (sorry, PT) and Jacksonville has and San Diego has and so on.  It's not a lack of talent on the field; there's something in the DNA of those organizations and until they, Wolverine-like, graft something onto the creature to make a new, stronger, thing -- as the Packers did in 1992-- they're going to be mostly moribund teams.

I pick Cincinnati Bengals, thus sticking The Boy with the Vikings.  Andy Dalton is the Bengals quarterback.  He has red hair.   If you want to know how much intelligence, exactly, it takes to work in a front office in the NFL, consider that once, a front-office guy for the NFL in all seriousness said that Dalton's red hair might show that he could not play at an NFL level.  

 Given that, it is apparent that every year, Americans spend billions to subsidize a program -- the NFL -- which uses that money to provide seemingly-gainful employment to those whose inability to function in a way that benefits society -- NFL executives -- would otherwise see them institutionalized and bereft of any happiness.  So when you buy those Tebow jerseys, remember that you're helping those less fortunate than you keep their make-work jobs so they have something to do all day.

HERE ARE MY PREDICTIONS for the games.  Many 'pros'  pick games and say the exact score.  I go one better by not only picking the winner, but making one oddly-specific prediction for each game this weekend.  So:

TEXANS will beat the Bengals, but in doing so will see a field goal missed by their kicker when it bounces off the left upright.

PACKERS will beat the Vikings, but Aaron Rodgers will fumble the ball with 5 minutes remaining in the first half.

SEAHAWKS will be the Redskins, and will call "Tails" to win the coin toss.

COLTS will beat the Ravens, and Andrew Luck will celebrate by proposing to his girlfriend, in the third quarter.

This is Andrew Luck's real-life girlfriend.


PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

I've pretty much given the NFL playoffs no thought this year. Maybe I'll just go contrary to any logic and say Redskins and Bengals in the Super Bowl.

The Packers should be glad now they got "screwed" on that game. Teams with a bye week to start with haven't won the Super Bowl in several years while wild card teams like New York and Pittsburgh have gone on to win the whole thing. I guess it's that sure the bye can help you recover from injuries a little but it also takes a little edge off and with competition so close between teams you can't afford to start off in a hole because your rusty. And I've seen twice now how well rest worked for the Tigers before a World Series, dangnabit.

joeh said...

I predict the Home Team will win the Big Game.

Andrew Leon said...

So I'm gonna show you how little I know about the world of football:

What, um, happened to Tebow and why didn't he play this year? I didn't know that he wasn't playing, but, now that I think about it, I haven't been hearing about him constantly on the radio and such, so I guess that makes sense.

Briane P said...

The collective knowledge displayed by Andrew and Joe H is stunning. Simply stunning.

Andrew: Tebow got traded from the Broncos to the Jets, who didn't play him reportedly because Rex Ryan didn't like Tebow.

PT: As weird as it sounds, I think it's true that NOT having a week off is a better thing. Look at last year's 15-1 Packers, getting whomped by the Giants. But that doesn't stop Packer fans from whining. They're worse than Giants fans or Patriots* fans at this point.

Andrew Leon said...

My collective knowledge is all invested in other things. Like commas, which are always useful.

And, um, I don't know who Rex Ryan is, but why would the get Tebow if the guy doesn't like him? Just to keep someone else from having him?

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Ha and yup the Packers won. Maybe in coming seasons teams will compete to NOT win the bye week. I guess if you're a betting person bet on the Packers over the 49ers next week and the Texans over the Patriots.

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