Monday, January 30, 2012

46 Stops To Super Bowl XLVI

#46-AFC LOVES FEBRUARY: The Super Bowl will be held on February 5th. Since the first February Super Bowl in 2002, the AFC is 6-3 in those games held in the calendar's shortest month ... though the NFC has won the last two:

Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots beat Rams on February 3, 2002
Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots beat Panthers on February 1, 2004
Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots beat Eagles on February 6, 2005
Super Bowl XL: Steelers beat Seahawks on February 5, 2006
Super Bowl XLI: Colts beat Bears on February 4, 2007
Super Bowl XLII: Giants beat Patriots on February 3, 2008
Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers beat Cardinals on February 1, 2009
Super Bowl XLIV: Saints beat Colts on February 7, 2010
Super Bowl XLV: Packers beat Steelers on February 6, 2011

#45-SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: The team who scores first in a Super Bowl is 29-16. However, the team who has scored first has lost six of the last ten Super Bowls.

*Teams who score at least 30 points are 23-1.
*Teams that score the first TD are 32-13.
*Teams leading at the half are 34-9 (there have been two ties)

#44-NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN, TOM: Tom Brady will be making his 5th start in a Super Bowl, tying him with John Elway for most all time. Brady is 3-1 in his previous trips (beat the Rams, Panthers and Eagles, lost to the Giants). Elway was 2-3 in his appearances.

After those two, four men are tied with four starts. Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw won all of their starts. Jim Kelly lost all four of his. Roger Stauback split his four.

If Brady wins Super Bowl XLVI, he will join Montana and Bradshaw for most Super Bowl wins by a starting QB.

#43-SUPER BOWL REMATCH: The Giants and Patriots will meet again in the Super Bowl. Who could forget their matchup in Super Bowl XLII?

This isn't the first Super Bowl rematch.
The Steelers and Cowboys have met for three Super Bowls. Redskins-Dolphins, Cowboys-Bills, and 49ers-Bengals all have met twice.

#42-LET'S GO TO INDY: Super Bowl XLVI will be played in Indianapolis, Indiana for the first time. This will be the 4th Super Bowl played in a cold-weather city. Pontiac, Michigan, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Detroit, Michigan have all hosted exactly one Super Bowl. Those four Super Bowls are the only ones that have been held in the midwest.

#41-SUPER BOWL ON NBC: This will be the 17th time NBC will televise the Super Bowl, tying CBS for most by a network. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will make the call. Collinsworth, who played in Super Bowls XVI and XXIII, will be making his first call. Michaels will be making his 8th call ... his 2nd with NBC (the others were with ABC).

The Giants will join the Broncos as the only teams to play in Super Bowls televised by all four major networks.

#40-COLTS KNOW BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN: The Indianapolis Colts, the host team of the Super Bowl, is the only franchise to play in a Super Bowl as an AFC and NFC team. Well, they never were an "NFC" team, but the Colts played in Super Bowl III as the NFL representative against the AFL Champ Jets. Two years later, the Colts won Super Bowl V as a member of the AFC.

When the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970, the NFL's Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns moved to the American side of things. The Steelers have won six Super Bowls (and been to another one) but all were as the AFC champ. Cleveland is still waiting for their first appearance.

#39-TOP SEEDS NOT MEETING AGAIN: Believe it or not, but Super Bowl XLIV was the first time that the No. 1 seed in the NFC and AFC met in the Super Bowl since 1993. In each year since the Bills and Cowboys met in '93, one of the top seeds fell before getting to the big game. This year, only hte AFC's top seed, the Patriots, made it to the Big Game. The NFC's top team, the Packers, lost in the divisional round. For a look at what the top seeds did during the drought, check out The Tygrrrr Express.

#38-DIVISION ALL IN: The only divisions that don't have all of their members with appearances in a Super Bowl are the AFC North (Browns), AFC South (Titans, Jaguars) and NFC North (Lions).

No division has all their members with Super Bowl championships. The NFC East (Eagles didn't win), AFC West (Chargers) and AFC East (Bills) have seen three of their four members win a title. The NFC East is the only division to have each of their members in multiple Super Bowls. The Cowboys have been to eight, the Redskins have been to five, the Giants have been to four and the Eagles have been to two.

The odd thing is that each team in the NFC South has been exactly once to the Super Bowl. The Panthers and Falcons lost their only time there, while the Bucs and Saints won in their only appearances.

#37-NFC EAST TOPS THEM ALL: The NFC East easily has the most Super Bowl champions than any other division. The 11 titles won bests the AFC North for the top honors.

The NFC East dominated from 1986-1995. In that span, the Giants ('86, '90), Redskins ('87, '91) and Cowboys ('92, '93, '95) went to and won 7 of 10 Super Bowls during that decade. The only other Super Bowl champ was San Francisco ('88, '89, '94).

This year the two representatives in the Super Bowl represent the two divisions who get the Super Bowl the most.

Here's a rundown of the divisions:
11-NFC EAST (Cowboys-5, Redskins-3, Giants-3)
7-AFC NORTH (Steelers-6, Ravens-1)
6-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-1)
6-AFC EAST (Patriots-3, Dolphins-2, Jets-1)
6-AFC WEST (Raiders-3, Broncos-2, Chiefs-1)
5-NFC NORTH (Packers-4, Bears-1)
2-AFC SOUTH (Colts-2)
2-NFC SOUTH (Buccaneers-1, Saints-1)

As for Super Bowl appearances, the NFC East wins this title again:
20-NFC EAST (Cowboys-8, Redskins-5, Giants-5, Eagles-2)
17-AFC EAST (Patriots-7, Dolphins-5, Bills-4, Jets-1)
14-AFC WEST (Broncos-6, Raiders-5, Chiefs-2, Chargers-1)
11-NFC NORTH (Packers-5, Vikings-4, Bears-2)
11-AFC NORTH (Steelers-8, Bengals-2, Ravens-1)
10-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-3, Seahawks-1, Cardinals-1)
5-AFC SOUTH (Colts-4, Titans-1)
4-NFC SOUTH (Panthers-1, Bucs-1, Falcons-1, Saints-1)

#36-THERE IS AN EXTRA VINCE LOMBARDI TROPHY OUT THERE: Excuse this one taken from my FanHouse post but it is rather interesting:

There have been 43 Super Bowls to date ... yet there are 44 Vince Lombardi Trophies (given to the Super Bowl winning team) out and about. How is that?

Well, that little ditty comes to light after the recent passing of Rams owner Georgia Frontiere. Frontiere's husband, former-Colts and Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, is the reason behind the story:

However, when Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Frontiere's late husband, traded the Colts for the Rams in a franchise swap in 1972, he decided he wanted to keep the Lombardi Trophy the Colts won in Super Bowl V. When Super Bowl VII took place in Los Angeles, Rosenbloom told the Colts he was going to put on a display of Super Bowl trophies and asked them to bring it to the West Coast. They did. There was no display, and Rosenbloom never returned the trophy. After the Colts complained to the league office, former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had a duplicate made for the Colts, which remains in Baltimore (it was originally shipped to Indianapolis when the team moved but a deal was struck and it was returned to Maryland). The original Super Bowl V trophy? It presumably was in Frontiere's possession and now belongs to her heirs.

So, there are two Vince Lombardi trophies awarded for Super Bowl V ... yet neither are with the franchise that won it. The original was in St. Louis with Frontiere with the other in Baltimore, the Colts old digs. Meanwhile, Indianapolis can only show off the trophy they won two years ago.

#35-NOT A GIANT WINNER: The Giants join the 1979 Los Angeles Rams and 2008 Arizona Cardinals as the only teams to reach the Super Bowl with less than 10 regular season wins. The Giants finished 9-7 for the season and needed a win over the Cowboys in the finale to even qualify for the postseason. Both the Rams and Cardinals lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

#34-FOUR DECADES OF SUPER BOWLS: If the Patriots lose this Super Bowl, they will be the first team to lose Super Bowls in four different decades. The Pats lost in 1980s to the Bears, 1990s to the Packers and 2000s to the Giants. Only the Bills, Vikings and Broncos have lost 4 Super Bowls.

That would mean the Giants would be the first team to win Super Bowls in four decades. They beat the Broncos in the 1980s, Bills in the 1990s and Patriots in the 2000s.

#33-NOT A FAIR SCORE: The Giants are the first team in history to get to the Super Bowl despite being outscored during the regular season. The G-men were outscored 400-396 during the season.

#32-ROAD WARRIORS: The Giants are also on a nice winning streak. They currently have won six straight games away from home. That streak began in 2007 at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium and includes their victory over the Pats in Super Bowl XLII. This postseason, the Giants won at Green Bay and at San Francisco to get to SB46.

The Giants are also only the 2nd team to beat three teams with better records than them in the postseason to reach the Super Bowl.

#31-GIANTS STOP NFC'S NEWBIE STREAK: The Giants just ended a streak of 10 consecutive different NFC Champions. Yes, the last 10 seasons have seen 10 different NFC Champions. Last year, the Packers joined the Saints, Cardinals, Giants, Bears, Seahawks, Eagles, Panthers, Buccaneers and Rams as NFC champs in the last decade. In that time, only the Vikings, Lions, Redskins, Falcons, Niners and Cowboys haven't been to the big show. That's a bit odd since in the span from 1987-1995, the Cowboys, Redskins and Niners went to and won 8 of the 9 Super Bowls

#30-TOM BRADY IS BAAAAACK: 18 quarterbacks have started multiple Super Bowls. This will be Tom Brady's fifth Super Bowl appearance. John Elway leads the pack with 5 Super Bowls, while Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly and Roger Staubach have all started four. Only Craig Morton and Kurt Warner have started Super Bowls for two different teams.

#29-FUTURE SUPER BOWL SITES ARE PRETTY INTERESTING: No team has ever played a Super Bowl in their home stadium -- we know this after last year's chirping from Dallas about that in the offseason and Peyton Manning's injury keeping his Colts away from this game in Indy. It really is remarkable that this has never happened. Well, it could happen soon.

New Orleans (XLVII), New York (XLVIII) and Phoenix (XLIX) will be hosting games soon. The Saints won a Super Bowl a couple years back and was one of the hottest teams entering this postseason. New York's Giants are in this year's Super Bowl while the Jets were in the last two AFC title games. Arizona could be formindable by the time their Super Bowl comes back around.

#28-SUPER BOWL "VOICE": In a rather odd bit of programming, NBC will air the singing competition "The Voice" after the Super Bowl. Last year, FOX broadcasted Glee after the Super Bowl.

The trend recently is for the network broadcasting the Super Bowl loves breaking in new shows or extended shows following the game. CBS debuted "Undercover Boss" after Super Bowl XLIV. It joined Extreme (ABC-1995), Homicide (NBC-'93), Davis Rules (ABC-'91), Grand Slam (CBS-'90), The Wonders Years (ABC-'88), Hard Copy (CBS-'87), The Last Precinct (NBC-'86), MacGruder and Loud (ABC-'85), Airwolf (CBS-'84), The A-Team (NBC-'83) and Brothers and Sisters (NBC-'79) as shows who debuted after the Super Bowl.

Some other big-time heavyweights have also appeared right after the game. Lassie, All in the Family, 60 Minutes, CHiPs, Archie Bunker's Place, Friends, The X-Files, The Simpsons, Survivor, Grey's Anatomy, House and The Office all have been post-Super Bowl shows.

#27-BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This will be the second consecutive Super Bowl between teams with at least 3 Super Bowl titles. Before last year, it hadn't happened since Super Bowl XXX. Last year, the Packers (3 titles entering the game) faced off with the Steelers (six). In Super Bowl XXX, the Steelers (then a 4-time champion) battled the Cowboys (also a 4-time champ at the time).

It's also just the fifth Super Bowl between teams with multiple Super Bowl victories. The only other time it has happened was last year's Packers-Steelers (XLV), the Giants-Patriots (XLII) Super Bowl a couple of years ago and the Steelers-Cowboys (XXX and XIII).

#26-SUPER BOWL CONSUMPION: Some nice stats for you:

8 million: Total pounds of popcorn consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.

28 million: Pounds of potato chips consumed.

53.5 million: Pounds of avocados consumed.

222,792: Number of football fields worth of farmland to grow all that corn, potatoes, and avocados.

11.8: Depth, in feet, of guacamole consumed if it were spread across the football field.

293,000: Number of miles of potato chips, laid end to end, consumed during the game.

1 billion: Number of chicken wings consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.

325.5 million: Gallons of beer drank by Americans that day.

493: Number of Olympic-sized swimming pools that could be filled with all that beer.

20%: Increase in anti-acid sales the Monday after the game.

7 million: Number of employees who will not show up to work Monday.

#25-BUT DON'T DISMISS THE FAVORITES: Yeah, there are upsets, but don't count on them. The favorite has won nine of the last 13 Super Bowls. In fact the favorite is 31-14 in the Super Bowl. Teams favored by at least 7 points are 19-6.

24-STILL, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE UNDERDOG: This year, the Steelers are a slight underdog and this may be one of the most even matchups we've seen in a Super Bowl in quite some time. But we have seen some big dog upsets.

Here is a short list of some notable upsets:

Super Bowl III: The Baltimore Colts came in as 18-point favorites. They left watching the Jets' Joe Namath fulfilling his prediction of an upset.

Super Bowl IV: The Kansas City Chiefs spanked the Minnesota Vikings, despite being a 12-point underdog.

Super Bowl VII: Oddly, the undefeated Miami Dolphins entered the game as 1.5-point underdogs to the Washington Redskins.Super Bowl XXV: The Buffalo Bills would begin their four game Super Bowl losing streak by succumbing to the Giants, who were 7-point dogs.

Super Bowl XXXII: The Denver Broncos, an 11.5-point underdog, ended the AFC's thirteen game losing streak by beating Green Bay.

Super Bowl XXXVI: These New England Patriots began their dynasty by beating the St. Louis Rams, who were 14-point favorites.

Super Bowl XLII: The 12-point dog Giants ended the Patriots perfect season with a magical game.See, it can happen. Just because we all think one way doesn't mean we cannot be shocked. After all, those 2001 Rams were juggernauts who were former champions and were heavy favorites. They left without the trophy.

#23-THE NFC OWNS THE COIN TOSS: The NFC has ... somehow ... won the last 14 coin tossses in the Super Bowl. The last time the AFC won a coin toss was 1997 when the Patriots won it against the Packers.

The team that wins the opening coin toss is just 22-23 in the game. That averages out to ... well ... the flip of a coin. However, the coin toss winner has been the Super Bowl loser in 10 of the last 14 games.

SB 45: Packers won the toss ... and the game
SB 44: Saints won the toss ... and the game
SB 43: Cardinals won the toss, lost the game*
SB 42: Giants won the toss ... and the game
SB 41: Bears won the toss, lost the game
SB 40: Seahawks won the toss, lost the game
SB 39: Eagles won the toss, lost the game
SB 38: Panthers won the toss, lost the game
SB 37: Buccaneers won the toss ... and the game
SB 36: Rams won the toss, lost the game
SB 35: Giants won the toss, lost the game
SB 34: Rams won the toss ... and the game
SB 33: Falcons won the toss, lost the game
SB 32: Packers won the toss, lost the game
SB 31: Patriots won the toss, lost the game

*A little aside to this is that the Arizona Cardinals won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Steelers chose to receive which means the Cards were the first team in Super Bowl history to win the coin toss and kickoff.

#22-SOME MORE STATITUDES: Here is another piece of trivia for you. There has been at least one successful field goal in 43 of 45 Super Bowls.

Teams that have been shut out for one half (either the first or second) are a combined 1-18. The lone winner was those 1972 Dolphins who went scoreless in the second half of Super Bowl VII.

Only one Super Bowl featured teams from the same state. Super Bowl XXIX between the Chargers and 49ers. The Giants and Bills both are "New York" teams, but the Giants play their home games in New Jersey.

Also, teams that intercept a pass for a TD are 11-0 in the Super Bowl. No losing team has returned a pick-six. Last year, the winning Packers returned an interception for a TD.

#21-BELICHICK KNOWS BOWLS: Bill Belichick will be the head coach of his 5th Super Bowl, tying him with Tom Landry for 2nd most all time. Only Don Shula's six appearances beat it. The combo of Belichick and Tom Brady will set a record for most appearances for a head coach/quarterback duo. Their fifth game passes Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw for most all time.

#20-THINGS NON FOOTBALL FANS CAN SAY TO BLEND IN: Look, I know that there are people in America that will be attending Super Bowl parties because ... well, they love to party. Some won't know who's playing in the game until they get there. I've also come to find that there are actually guys out there that get dragged to Super Bowl parties because of their women (that's sad). Don't worry. So the diehards around the party who actually care about the game won't think you're a wuss, I'm here to help.

Here are a few vague quotes that you can use so you fit in among the football fans. You don't have to engage in a conversation with these, just drop these in from time to time the rest of us don't make fun of you once you leave. Just print this out, study it and you will at look somewhat less wimpish around the real men at the Super Bowl party.

"The Giants just need to limit turnovers and control the clock if they want to pull the upset."

"That Eli Manning has been on fire over the last six weeks or so!"

"This is a classic Super Bowl matchup. Tough defense against a stellar offense."

"You just gotta convert those third downs!"

"Don't sleep on Manningham!"

"Despite it being the year of the offense, defense wins championships and that's why the Giants are here!"

"Third and long? I'd blitz."

"I wonder what Peyton Manning is thinking right now."

"I got a few bucks on this game."

"Damnit! I left my squares sheet at home!"

"Wli wins this and he's a made man in New York!"

When there is a penalty called for holding, just say, "yeah, he was tackling him!"

"Wonder if those Fire Tom Coughlin people are changing their tune now?"

If you are around an anti-Patriot crowd "I'm tired of those Boston teams winning."

"I wonder if this could be as classic as their last Super Bowl."

Use only in a close game: "This could come down to who has the ball last."

#19-WEARING WHITE IS THE KEY: Since the New England Patriots are designated the home team, they will be wearing their home blue jerseys for the Super Bowl. That means the Giants will go with their white jerseys ... just like they did in Super Bowl XLII). In fact, the team that has worn white uniforms had won the last six Super Bowls (Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts, Steelers, Patriots) before the Packers won last year. The Giants last Super Bowl victory was while wearing white; the Pats won two of their three titles wearing blue.

#18-ALTERNATE VIEWING: Wife doesn't watch the Super Bowl? Well, here are some alternatives for her.

ABC: America's Funniest Home Videos marathon
ESPN: World's Strongest Man Competition marathon
FOOD: Cupcake Wars
E!: Sex and the City marathon
USA: Law & Order: SVU marathon
HISTORY: Pawn Stars marathon
TLC: Strange Sex marathon
ID: Dateline on ID marathon
DISNEY: High School Musical marathon
WGN: How I Met Your Mother marathon
ABC FAMILY: Mamma Mia!
CMT: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team
RFDTV: Hee Haw
HBO: Titanic
SPEED: Hooters Dreamgirl

#17-RELOCATING TO TITLES: The Colts (Baltimore/Indianapolis) are one of two teams to win a Super Bowl in two different cities. The other team is the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. The St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams have been to Super Bowls from two different cities and join the Colts as the only franchises to lose Super Bowls in two different cities.

#16-LIST OF SUPER BOWL NO-NAMES: Below are guys that made their names in the Super Bowl. Some of these guys were pretty good NFLers before their breakout games ... some we haven't heard of before or since ... but performing well on the biggest of stages makes them legends.

Doug Williams (Redskins): It wasn't that Williams was a no-name as much as things really didn't pan out for him. Dude really came off the scrap heap. Williams did nothing much of note in his first years at Tampa Bay or in his USFL stint. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs (who coached Doug in Tampa) gave him a shot in 1986 to back up Jay Schroeder. In '87, Schroeder had some shoulder issues late in the season and Williams did a good job taking over. So much so that there was a QB controversy. Williams got the nod and the rest is history.What Williams did in the 2nd quarter of Super Bowl XXII is nothing short of remarkable. He was 9-of-11 for 228 yards and 4 TDs. Again, that was just in the 2nd quarter! Williams would win the game's MVP and become the first (and only, so far) black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Timmy Smith (Redskins): If Doug Williams didn't win the MVP, Smith would have. Smith rushed for 204 yards (still a Super Bowl record) and two TDs. Coming into the game, Smith had rushed for just 129 yards that season. His career lasted just 15 games after the Super Bowl.

Max McGee (Packers): McGee is famous for his pre-Super Bowl I partying. With Boyd Dowler injured early in the game, a hung-over McGee would step in and catch the first TD pass in Super Bowl history. He would go on to catch seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs ... three more receptions than he had all season long.

Jeff Hostetler (Giants): People forget that Phil Simms didn't start the G-men's second Super Bowl title. Simms hurt his ankle late in the season and Hoss took it the rest of the way. He had the least amount of playing time of any QB to start a Super Bowl. He held up well, throwing for 222 yds and a TD.

Dan Bunz (49ers): The linebacker was instrumental in the greatest goal line stand in Super Bowl history, stuffing the Bengals four times with goal to go. The defining play was Bunz' tackle on a swing pass to Charles Alexander on third down (he was also in on the stop on fourth down).

Larry Brown (Cowboys): The running joke after Super Bowl XXX was that Brown was the Steelers' Neil O'Donnell's favorite target. Too bad he played for the other team. Brown picked off two O'Donnell throws ... his final game with Dallas. He used the MVP award to get a nice fat contract with the Raiders and did nothing much of note after the fact.

Dwight Smith (Buccaneers): If Brown won an MVP award for picking off two passes ... why didn't Smith win won for taking two picks back for TDs? He was a nickelback used a lot in a game where (a) Oakland's offensive attack warranted it and (b) the Raiders were so far behind that they had to take chances. Why ....

Dexter Jackson (Buccaneers): ... because Smith's second TD came in the closing seconds after the ballots had already been counted. Jackson had picked off two passes himself (none that went for TDs) that were momentum changers. And Jackson wouldn't have won the award either if not for fan voting taking place in the game (Simeon Rice was the press' pick).

Percy Howard (Cowboys): Never heard of him? Well, Howard came into Super Bowl X and caught a 34-yd touchdown pass from Roger Staubach. That was the only reception he had in his entire career.

Don Beebe (Bills): Beebe has been on six Super Bowl teams ... but will be remembered most for running down Leon Lett and stripping the ball right before crossing the endzone in Super Bowl XXVII.

David Tyree (Giants): Tyree will always be a legend for his amazing catch in Super Bowl XLII. A guy pretty much no one had heard of before and hasn't done anything since will be immortalized with possibly the greatest play in Super Bowl history.

Jordy Nelson (Packers): Nelson caught 9 passes for 140 yards (both career highs) and a TD in Super Bowl XLV.

#15-SUPER BOWL MVP'S IN CANTON: Winners of 22 Super Bowl MVP awards have gone on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You have Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff, Randy White, Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana (three times), John Riggins, Marcus Allen, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and John Elway. Other winners, like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis can look forward to seeing their busts in Canton one day (that hikes the number up to 26). Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees also have a shot at the Hall.

Granted, not all winners of the Super Bowl MVP award go on to anything much. Guys like Larry Brown, Harvey Martin, Dexter Jackson, Desmond Howard, Mark Rypien, Deion Branch and Jake Scott have also won the award and the Hall is no where in their future.

#14-THE FIVE WORST SUPER BOWLS: 1-Super Bowl V: This one was nicknamed the "Blunder Bowl" for good reason. There were 11 turnovers in the game with the Colts ... who won ... committing seven of them. The Dallas Cowboys were called for 10 penalties. This game sucked so bad that the MVP award was given to Chuck Howley ... of the losing Cowboys (the only time the Super Bowl MVP played for the losing team). Sure, Jim O'Brien kicked the game winning field goal at the end of the game ... but even that was set up by a turnover.

2-Super Bowl XII: Dallas was in yet another sloppy game. Good thing that the Broncos were sloppier (Denver turned the ball over eight times ... and completed just eight passes). Denver QB Craig Morton was horrible -- he completed just four of 15 passes for 39 yards and four interceptions. Yikes! There was also lingering questions about the IRS checking into his tax returns. Both teams combined for 20 penalties.

3-Super Bowl XL: It was a ho-hum game that's only excitement came on an Antwaan Randle-El touchdown pass to Hines Ward. That's pretty much all the Steelers had: three big plays that ended up with TDs (the above play, a Willie Parker 75-yd TD run and an awkward pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Ward). Seattle shot themselves in the foot with bad penalties, bad red zone efficiency and turnovers. The game is one of the most controversial as many people felt that the Seahawks had a lot of bad calls go against them. Big Ben's QB rating is the lowest by any Super Bowl winning quarterback.

4-Super Bowl XX: The Bears dominated and we all loved seeing the Fridge plop into the endzone. Still, this looked like an exhibition game against a local high school team than a Super Bowl. Chicago dominated this game with their defense and made Pats QB Tony Eason look foolish (he is the only starting QB to not complete a pass). There have been several blowouts in Super Bowl history, but this is the only one where the losing team looked like it had no business being there. The saddest thing is that Walter Payton didn't get a shot at running in a TD. Jim McMahon snuck in a TD twice and the Fridge got a shot ... but not Walter. A shame.

5-Super Bowl VII: The one where the Dolphins completed the perfect season? A dud. Miami is the only team to be shut out for an entire half and still win the game. The Phins got out to a 14-0 lead before halftime and hung on for the win. If not for that botched field goal attempt (where Miami kicker Garo Yepremian's "pass" was picked off by Mike Bass and returned for a TD), the Redskins would've been the only team shut out in Super Bowl history. That score, with 2:07 left in the game, is the longest it has taken for a Super Bowl team to score.

#13-REMATCH! No, not just a rematch of the Super Bowl. The Pats-Giants tussle will be the 13th time the Super Bowl featured a rematch from a regular season game. This year, the Giants beat the Patriots in Foxboro, 24-20.

The loser of the regular season game has gone on to win the Super Bowl rematch 5 of the last 6 times ... and are 7-5 in Super Bowl history. That includes Super Bowl XLII where the Patriots beat the Giants in the regular season finale, but the Giants got revenge in the Super Bowl.

#12-AHHHHHHHH KELLY CLARKSON! Kelly Clarkson will sing the National Anthem ... which means that 4 of the last 5 Super Anthems were sung by former American Idol contestants.

#11-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Teams that are facing a double-digit deficit are 2-40. A couple things are interesting about that stat. First, the only teams to come back from a 10-point deficit and win is the 1987 Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII and the New Orleans Saints last year. The Skins trailed 10-0 before scoring the next 42 points. The Saints scored 31 of the next 38 points after trailing 10-0. That also makes those Super Bowls the only ones where both teams faced a double digit deficit. Also, it is quite amazing that 40 of 45 Super Bowls have seen one team go up by at least 10 at some point in the game.

#10-SUPER BOWL DATES: Here are just a few dumb notes about Super Bowl dates. Super Bowl XXIX was and will always be the only Super Bowl that was played on the same day (29) as the Roman numeral of the game. January 26th is the most popular date for a Super Bowl as a record four games have been played on that date. And, if you go in order from the earliest date (January 9th) to the latest (February 7th), the only days to not have held the Super Bowl are January 10, 19, 23 and February 2.

This will be the second Super Bowl held on February 5th.

Jan 9-XI
Jan 11-IV
Jan 12-III, IX
Jan 13-VIII
Jan 14-II, VII
Jan 15-I, XII
Jan 16-VI
Jan 17-V
Jan 18-X
Jan 20-XIV, XIX
Jan 21-XIII
Jan 24-XVI
Jan 27-XXV
Jan 29-XXIX
Feb 4-XLI
Feb 5-XL, XLVI
Feb 7-XLIV

#9-STILL HAVEN'T WON ONE: There are now four franchises that have never appeared in a Super Bowl (Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Texans). But there are ten others that have never won the Super Bowl in any of their appearances. They are the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. The Bills and Vikings have lost four games apiece; the Bengals and Eagles have each lost two. The rest lost on their only trip.

And while the Jaguars (1995) and Texans (2002) haven't been to the big game, they don't have quite the drought as some other franchises. The Jets haven't been to the Super Bowl since the 1968 season. The Chiefs went to two of the first four Super Bowls but their last appearance was after the 1969 season.

It's been a while since the Vikings (1976), Dolphins (1984), Bengals (1988) and Redskins (1991) have been there as well.

#8-SUPER BOWL MVPS: This will be first time in Super Bowl history that two QBs will face off with Super Bowl MVP awards already in their pocket. Brady has won two awards while Manning has one. There have been plenty of Super Bowls where both QBs ended up with MVP awards but this is the first one where both already have.

This also is the 3rd rematch between quarterbacks in the Super Bowl (Bradshaw-Staubach and Aikman-Kelly are the others). In both previous instances, the same QB (Bradshaw, Aikman) won both times.

#7-CAPITAL GAINS: Indianapolis will only be the 2nd state capital to host a Super Bowl. The other is Atlanta.

#6-SIX BEST SUPER BOWLS: Here are what I believe are the five best Super Bowls, ever. You can debate this all you want (which is fine), but these five were all great games with exciting finishes and are memorable in one way or another.

1-Super Bowl XXV: This was a great matchup in every way. With a backdrop of war, this game had all kinds of emotion as the game began (thanks, Whitney). That vaunted Bills offense against the stuffy Giants defense. The lead changed times on four occassions. In the end, an old guy like Ottis Anderson ate up the clock and Scott Norwood missed the only time the winner of the Super Bowl came down to the final play (even if Vinatieri missed those Pats FGs, the games would've went into overtime). Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick's defensive gameplan for this game in enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2-Super Bowl XLII: Yes, the Giants take the top two spots. Their amazing run just to get to the Super Bowl and matching the undefeated Patriots blow-for-blow. Eli Manning's escape and David Tyree's catch has become one of the top plays in Super Bowl history. Second biggest upset ever.

3-Super Bowl XXXIV: Not only was this a surreal matchup (remember that St. Louis and Tennessee weren't NFL cities six years earlier), but some cat named Kurt Warner was shredding up this game. The Titans staged one heck of a comeback (they were down 16-0) to have it ripped away from them on a bomb to Issac Bruce. Also, it had one of the greatest endings any football game could ever have.

4-Super Bowl XXIII: There were so many game changing moments in this one. Remember that the only times the 49ers led this game was at 3-0 ... and after Joe Montana's pass to John Taylor at the end of the game. Cincinnati had this one, but Super Joe took it away.

5-Super Bowl XXXVIII: The problem with this Super Bowl is that the 1st and 3rd quarters sucked. However, the 2nd and 4th were just outstanding! In the fourth quarter alone, there were 37 points scored ... which is a Super Bowl record for points scored in a quarter. It was just the second to have five TDs scored (the Redskins did that by themselves 16 years earlier). And it ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal with :04 left. Oh, and we got a little nipple action at halftime.

6-Super Bowl XLIII: What a game this was. You had the ultimate game changer with the interception and 99-yard return for a TD at the end of the first half. You had Arizona's miraculous comeback to take a lead late in the game. Then you had Pittsburgh's Big Ben Roethlisberger finding Santonio Holmes for a wonderful game winning score.

#5-ALL TIME SERIES: The Giants and Patriots have met 10 times with each team winning five of those games. In the last 8 meetings, the winner had won by double digits just once ... and that was by 11 points. Six of the last seven of those meetings were won by less than 4 points.

#4-THE NBA IS M.I.A.: The NBA usually puts a premiere matchup for us to enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday. Not this year. No nationally televised game at all (well, unless you consider NBATV as "national"). There are two games scheduled, however. The Grizzlies and, oddly, the Celtics face off at noon in Beantown. The Raptors and Heat play at 1pm.

There is some college hoops to watch. CBS will air the Michigan-Michigan State game. Duke will host Miami at 3pm on ESPNU. Villanova and Pitt will play on ESPN. The Big Ten Network will also have a doubleheader.

There are four NHL games, highlighted by the Bruins (Boston again) at the Capitals on NBC Sports Network. Oh, the Rangers and Devils also play on Super Bowl Sunday.

#3-WHO CARES ABOUT THE DRAFT?: The New England Patriots have 18 players on their roster that went undrafted. EIGHTEEN! That's amazing. And eight of them are starters. Bill Belichick loves teams who work to get on and stay on his roster.

Remember that All-Everything Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick. He is one of 11 other players who were drafted in the 5th round or later.

#2-NEW YORK VS BOSTON: Ah yes. Another New York vs Boston matchup. Red Sox-Yankees anyone? Two epic ALCSs. Heck, the Red Sox and Mets met in a pretty neat-o World Series once. The Celtics and Knicks still get a rise out of people especially once Carmelo Anthony arrived in the Big Apple. The Rangers and Bruins is a nice rivalry as well.

#1-ALL THIS ADDS UP TO A GREAT GAME: Look, we've established that the Super Bowl isn't always a good game, but they've gotten a lot better over the past 15 years. We all we be beaten down about what happened in Super Bowl XLII and the hope is that this game can duplicate it (it can't no matter what). Both these teams are extremely flawed, making either one an interesting champion. The Giants went 9-7 during the season (and lost to my Redskins ... twice ... handily) and the Patriots have the worst defense to ever play in the Super Bowl.

Still, take all of that away and keep the game what it is: the 2012 Giants against the 2012 Patriots. Yes, will remember the past but the game itself will be all that matters. The storylines are everywhere. I mean, Eli Manning winning a Super Bowl on Peyton's home field? What about if Tom Brady, Peyton's eternal rival, does it instead?

It should be a nice one.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Report: Navy To Join Big East

Navy, one of the three service academies, is reportedly moving their football program to the Big East conference in 2015. Due to scheduling, bowl and television contracts, the move is delayed for several years.

As it stands right now, the Big East will have 11 football schools and would look like this:

Boise State
Central Florida
San Diego State
South Florida

Remember that Pittsburgh and Syracuse will leave to join the ACC in 2013 while West Virginia will leave for the Big 12. TCU, who was to join the Big East in 2012, will instead move to the Big 12 as well. The Big East added Boise State and SD State for football only and SMU, Houston and UCF for all sports.

Of course, the Big East isn't done and will be looking to add a 12th football member so they can hold a conference championship game. That is, however, if no other members are poached. UConn and Rutgers have shown interest in the ACC; Louisville could be a target of the Big 12.

If a 12th member comes, the Big East could look like this:
EAST: Central Florida, Navy, Rutgers, South Florida, UConn, 12th team
WEST: Boise State, Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, San Diego St, SMU

Super Bowl XLVI Is NOT a Revenge Game

One thing that keeps getting pointed out is that Super Bowl XLVI is a revenge game for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Four years ago, the Giants beat the Patriots in a thrilling Super Bowl which ended the Pats shot at an 19-0 season.

They meet again with a championship on the line. However, this is far from an actual revenge game.

People throw "revenge" around too lightly in sports. If the Miami Heat play the Dallas Mavericks in the regular season, they call it "revenge". Um, no. It isn't revenge. It isn't revenge when the first team that won got the higher stakes.

Same thing goes here. Super Bowl XLVI isn't a revenge game. Sure, the Pats would all love to beat the Giants -- I mean a championship is at stake, ya know. Sure, New England would love to beat New York for it all (though beating the San Francisco 49ers would've felt just as good). But exacting revenge? No.

First of all, the Giants win four years ago is much bigger than anything that happens on February 5th. This year, there is no undefeated season. There is no history involved in this game like the last one. I mean, if the Patriots won the last Super Bowl, they would have been only the second undefeated team in NFL history and the first to win 19 games. This time, a win would mean they beat a 9-7 team who needed a win in the final game of the regular season to get into the postseason for the title. Not really the same.

Also, a loss for the Giants wouldn't really destroy them the way the Patriots loss in 2008 did to them. New York wasn't supposed to be there. Eli Manning has won his title and is pretty much a made man in Gotham. A win for the Giants would just cement their legacies with the franchise (Tom Coughlin, a two-time Super Bowl winner?) and Eli would have something on big brother Peyton.

Only 15 players remain for the Giants from Super Bowl XLII. Only 7 Patriots are left. Revenge?

This isn't to belittle the game at all. A title is a title is a title. But "revenge" isn't a term warranted here. Heck, most of the guys on both teams didn't play in Super Bowl XLII. No 1972 Dolphins will be popping champagne after this one.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 - The NBA Season Time Will Forget

Anyone who loves to dig at the Spurs usually points out that their 1999 NBA Championship should come with an asterisk. After all, a labor dispute shaved the season down to 50 games, it was the season after Michael Jordan's last game with the Bulls and the Spurs met 8th-seeded New York in the Finals.

The championship does count, but the season is usually forgotten among the lore of other seasons. No one mentions anything about San Antonio's 2003, 2005 or 2007 titles being tainted in any way.

The 66-game season that we are currently going through is a big jump from the 50 games on '99 so there may not be as much of a chatter about this season not having the worth of other ones. Sure, there is still 16 games missing on each team's sked and the season hasn't found any rhythm yet but there should be a better sample set once we get to the postseason.

But what will we see when we get there? These teams are cramming a ton of games in a very short amount of time. Guys who are carrying their teams right now (read: Kobe Bryant) could completely run out of gas by the time April arrives. Sure, everyone gets that three-games-in-a-row stretch which is hell, but it is all of those 4-games-in-5-nights that are really putting wear on teams and players.

I am a Laker fan, so let's use them as an example.

They opened the season ... OPENED THE SEASON ... with three games in three nights. With minimal training camp and conditioning, they had to open up the season with three straight games (which included them in LA, then Sacramento, then LA again). One day off and then another game.

From December 25th to January 14th ... a span of 21 days ... the Lakers played 14 games. The Lakers will play 17 games in January alone (add that last week of December, and the Lakers will have played 22 games in 5 1/2 weeks). They will play 17 again in March. Believe me, I'm not saying the Lakers are the only ones with it tough. I'm just using them because they are my team.

NOTE: My favorite stretch of the Lakers season is in April. The Lakers will play the Spurs THREE TIMES in a 10 day stretch.

The Nets had to start the season with 6 games in 8 days and FOUR of them on the road. The Thunder's 14 games featured 12 against teams who were playoff teams last year (look at their record and you can be even more impressed). The Bucks opened the season with 12 of 18 on the road. The Bobcats are in the middle of playing 11 games in 15 days. The Sacramento Kings will enter the All Star Break playing 21 games on the road and just 11 at home. How about the Hawks who had to play the Bulls and Heat TWICE EACH in a five day stretch??? (HT: SB Nation for the info).

It goes on and on and everyone faces stiff challenges. So it is fair in that sense. But is it really fair when pretty much 16 teams will enter the playoffs as shells of themselves? I mean, the NBA season has always been a grind and a survival of the fittest but this season takes it up quite a notch.

Whomever ends up winning the title will certainly deserve it even if not everyone gives them their due.

Even if it is the Miami Heat.

A Possible Two-Division Baseball Format

Brainstorming here. If baseball went back to the 2-division format ... and if the Astros HAVE to be in the American League ... this is how I'd have it shake out.

Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds
Miami Marlins
New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates
Washington Nationals

Arizona Diamondbacks
Chicago Cubs
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers
Milwaukee Brewers
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
St Louis Cardinals

Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays

Chicago White Sox
Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels
Minnesota Twins
Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recapping the NFL Season ... Division Style

The 2011 NFL season is over and we are now in postseason mode. So let's look back at the past year through the eyes of each division. Half of the divisions were won by one game or less. And, since we all know the BCS is the greatest system of determining a champion that has ever been created, let's use it to see who should be each division's champion.

1-AFC NORTH: Great season for the AFC North, who saw three of its four teams qualify for the postseason. The Ravens and Steelers each finished 12-4 and are, along with the Patriots, among the favorites to win the AFC. Cincinnati surprised many by going 9-7 and making the playoffs as well and showing that the future is really bright in Cincy. No, it wasn't a great year in Cleveland but the Browns, at one point, were 4-6.

Going forward, this division looks like they are stacked. Sure, Baltimore and Pittsburgh's defenses are aging but these are two solid organizations who do well at acquiring talent.

BCS CHAMPION: Ravens. Yeah, B-more and Pitt tied atop the division. But Ravens, along with the Packers, were the only NFL teams who went 6-0 in their division and 8-0 at home.

2-NFC SOUTH: Two teams, the Saints and Falcons, made the playoffs and both are riding pretty high. N'Awlins set all kinds of passing records and may be the most fun team to watch. The Carolina Panthers showed that their future is bright with an amazing season by rookie Cam Newton. Steve Smith was Steve Smith again. Tampa was a disaster but this was a 10-win team a year ago.

Let's see, a division with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Josh Freeman moving forward? Not too bad.

BCS CHAMPION: Saints. New Orleans won the division by three games and outscored opponents by a NFL-best 208 points. They also finished strong, winning their final 8 games.

3-NFC NORTH: The Packers finished 15-1 (loss to the Chiefs?) and are stacking for the next several years. Aaron Rodgers has emerged as one of the best QBs in the league. Matt Stafford is nearly getting to the level in Detroit and the Lions made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. No fluke here as the Lions were many people's sleeper team at the start of the year. The Chicago Bears were in the running for a playoff bid before injuries, especially to Jay Cutler, did them in. The Vikings season was bad, but they have some pieces in place.

Hopefully the Packers and Lions will become the offensive version of the Ravens and Steelers for years to come.

BCS CHAMPION: Packers. 15-1 season, undefeated in division and highest point differential. Easy.

4-AFC EAST: Weird season. New England sits atop the AFC with a crazy efficient offense but this defense is among the worst in the league. The rest of the division was very average at best. The Bills started 4-1 before losing 9 of their last 11 games. The Dolphins started 0-7 before winning 6 of their last 9 games. The Jets, easily, had an extremely disappointing and streaky season. They had two separate 3-game winning streaks and two separate 3-game losing streaks.

Who knows what this division will become? The Pats, despite their defense, still is in elite territory. The Jets are better than what they showed this season. The Bills and Dolphins are very talented but it just doesn't seem all there.

BCS CHAMPION: Patriots. Won the division by 5 games, won their last 8 games and, despite a poor defense, dominanted opponents.

5-NFC WEST: This was a joke of a division last season, but they stepped up a bit this year. The 49ers just cruised through and won the division handily, making many to believe the division to be poor. But the Cardinals (8-8) and Seahawks (7-9) found their way in the playoff race down the stretch. Neither team is really set for long term success but it is something to build upon. St. Louis stunk it up and have cleaned house.

San Francisco looks like they are back and are a very strong candidate to get to the Super Bowl. The others have a lot of work to do to compete on that level.

BCS CHAMPION: 49ers. They won the division by 5 games.

6-AFC SOUTH: Just a completely puzzling division. With Peyton Manning out for the season, the Houston Texans were heavy favorites to win the AFC South. They did, but saw their team decimated by injuries. They used four QBs and barely got anything from Andre Johnson this year. Still, they won and showed that they are deeply talented. The Colts were the worst team in the league, will get the No. 1 pick Andrew Luck, but have sort of cleaned house. Who knows if Manning will be back in Indy?

The Titans nearly snuck into the playoffs; the Jaguars did alright behind MJD. Both have young QBs to head down the road.

7-NFC EAST: This division isn't filled with bad teams, but this is a very disappointing season. The Giants started 6-2 and finished 3-5. Dallas was all over the place but did start 7-4 before losing 4 of their last 5. The Dream Team Eagles might actually be the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season, but did win their last 4 games to break even at 8-8 (and finished a game back of the division title). The Redskins finished in last place again, but did start 3-1 (uh, and finished 2-10).

The Cowboys and Eagles are better than this. Heck, the Giants are too. This division should be better next year. The Redskins offense is a mess but, sadly, that was by design. They rebuilt a horrible defense last offseason and plan to do the same to the offense this one. We'll see.

BCS CHAMPION: Eagles. They finished stronger than anyone, were 5-1 against the division (no one else finished over .500) and easily had the highest point differential.

8-AFC WEST: I'm not a Tim Tebow hater at all, but remember that this division was won by a team whose QB can't pass very well. Seriously look at the division this season. Everyone finished 8-8 except for the 7-9 Chiefs. Everyone was 3-3 within the division. Kyle Orton started the season as the Broncos starter and ended it as the Chiefs starter. The Raiders planted Carson Palmer as the starter and, in 10 games, tossed 16 interceptions.

Of the four teams, only the Chargers scored more points than their opponent (+29). Division champion Denver were outscored by 81 points this season.

Going forward, this division is in disarray. The Tebow experiment will continue into next year but he has to expand his passing if it is to be successful. Oakland gave up a ton for Palmer so he's in, but with the passing of Al Davis, who knows how the franchise will continue to run. Kansas City doesn't know who their QB is (Orton or Matt Cassell) and they've already fired their coach. San Diego could fire both their coach and/or GM.

BCS CHAMPION: Chargers. San Diego was the only team to outscore their opponents this year. They finished 4-1 and crushed Baltimore. No one else deserves it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What A Weird NFL Playoffs We Will Have

The 2011 NFL season may not be over yet (as I type this, the Cowboys-Giants are in pregame warmups), but the season has already produced one of the oddest postseasons I can remember. The matchups alone just make you gasp.


No. 1 Packers, No. 2 Niners: We all could've picked Green Bay getting a 1st round bye. But San Francisco? This is the team with Alex Smith starting at QB, right? And we are going to see Candlestick Park in the postseason again? Unreal.

No. 6 Lions at No. 3 Saints: Other than the fact that the Lions are in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, there isn't anything really odd about this matchup. Well, except this could be one of the great playoff shootouts we've seen in a long time. Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford have been lighting it up and there are just so many great receiving threats out there. Probably THE premiere game next weekend.

No. 5 Falcons at No. 4 Cowboys/Giants: No matter what, this will be all about the NFC East champion. The one who didn't screw up and actually won the division tonight. No matter what, no one will remember Atlanta is in this. Too bad because the Dirty Birds will probably win.

Since both wildcard games are toss-ups, who knows what we'll get in the divisional round. I'd love to see Saints-Niners. I'd love to see a third Lions-Packers game if it was anything like today's tilt. Again, the Cowboys/Giants/Falcons winner against either Green Bay or San Francisco would be stunning.


No. 1 Patriots, No. 2 Ravens: This is absolutely no surprise. These two, along with the Steelers, have been thought of all year long as the best teams in the AFC. Nothing to see here.

No. 6 Bengals at No. 3 Texans: Unbelieveable. Houston is making its first playoff appearance ever and we have no idea who the QB will be. Matt Schaub? Nope. Matt Leinart? Nuh-uh. T.J. Yates? Maybe. Jake Delhomme? Texans fans hope not. Oh, and the Bengals are there as well. The same Cincinnati team that blew up its core from the last six years (Carson Palmer, Chad Johnsocinco) are making it with rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. These guys were babies when the Bengals last won a road playoff game ... back when the NFL team in Houston were the Oilers.

No. 5 Steelers at No. 4 Broncos: Yes, Tim Tebow is in the playoffs. Yes, the Steelers will be double-digit favorites for this one. Yet the defending AFC Champion franchise that has won more Super Bowls than anyone will take second fiddle to the Broncos. This should get ugly real quick.

If the Bengals beat the Texans (like they did a few weeks back), that means we get another Steelers-Ravens game. What a war!!!! I want it. That would mean the young Bengals going against the Patriots, which would be fun. If Houston won, a Texans-Ravens matchup would be a bit boring but a Steelers-Patriots game would be nice. But what if Denver wins and we get Tebowmania at Baltimore?


Look at this list: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger have 7 Super Bowl titles among them (if the Giants make it, then Eli Manning adds an 8th ring). Matt Stafford, Tim Tebow, T.J. Yates, Andy Dalton and Alex Smith have zero playoff appearances among them. Then you have Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and maybe Tony Romo. Guys who've been there and not gotten it done.