Dress For Success – 2012 NFL Playoffs Preview

Nothing signifies having too much time on your hands as having watched every miserable game of a 6-10 season as I have for this season’s Miami Dolphins. One positive aspect of this is it has given me great insight into recognizing mediocrity. A team that can move the ball all the way to the twenty yard line with amazing efficiency and then fails to get in the end zone is mediocre. A player who can catch a ball that is impossible to catch in the first quarter, but drops a crucial perfectly placed toss in the fourth quarter is mediocre. A team that can win when they are up by a large margin, but when the score is close always finds a way to lose is mediocre. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is also mediocre.

But the power to deduct mediocrity also helps you recognize excellence. One of the Miami Dolphins football games I watched was a December contest against the New England Patriots. In the first half Miami could do no wrong. Their quarterback, Matt Moore, fired lasers to all his receivers. Running back Reggie Bush hurdled over tacklers. Miami’s defense  sacked the Patriot quarterback mercilessly.

But then came halftime and in the second half New England justified my preseason forecast that they are the most likely team to win this year’s Super Bowl. Their head coach Bill Belichick (he of the hooded sweatshirt) adjusted the Patriot’s game plan and their quarterback, Tom Brady (he of the Uggs boots), executed the strategy to perfection.

Without much time to get rid of the ball, Brady quickened his release finding the elusive Wes Welker and the hulking tight ends, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, for one first down after another. And while Brady’s passing attempts in the first half kept missing his mark, he never made the colossal mistake of turning the ball over which was something Miami teams are not afraid of doing. And so in the second half the tides turned. The Patriots won 27-24 teaching me that three points are the difference between excellence and mediocrity. One team gets better as the stakes rise, the other withers and dies.

The case against the Patriots winning the Super Bowl lies in the old mantra that defense wins championships and they have the NFL’s worst defense. The Patriots do allow a ton of yards and points, but as their 13-3 record attests, they find a way to steal the ball from their opponent when it matters most.

More likely hurting the Patriots is because of their seeding, they will probably have to defeat both of the twin bruising defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. It is possible that Tom Brady could take a serious beating in these two contests as he has in past postseasons and without a running game or dominant defense the Patriots will have no weapons at their disposal. But the same case can be made of their toughest competition, the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. Their respective quarterbacks, Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees, both had historic seasons, but their offenses are also so quarterback dependent that one brutal hit could knock them out of the playoffs just as Peyton Manning’s absence took his Indianapolis Colts from annual contenders to the worst team in the league.

Knowing that injuries are part of the game I’ll still pick the stylish Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to make the plays when they matter most and take home the Lombardi trophy.

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2 thoughts on “Dress For Success – 2012 NFL Playoffs Preview

  1. I’ll go for a dark horse: Falcons all the way! Very long shot with all the Saints, Packers, Patriots, Steelers, and Ravens out there, but I also feel the Falcons play in the toughest league as well, making them a strong contender. When you have to play into a Super Bowl against the likes of New Orleans and the defending champs, Green Bay, you really prove something to get there. There was a time New England, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh were the the level by which all others were measured, but each of them have lost the Super Bowl in their last trips there. So were those mere flukes or is the tide shifting back towards the NFC after a decade of AFC dominance, largely by those three teams, Denver, and Baltimore?

    I doubt San Francisco will even win their game, I think it’s a fluke they are even there and, barring some unforeseen event, they most likely will have to go to Lambeau to reach the Super Bowl and warm weather teams don’t fair well on that field in January. That more than likely will end Atlanta’s run as well, being a dome team, but one can hope.

    Plus, for the Falcons, too much inconsistency. Turner can look awesome some games and like a chump others. Matt Ryan has the receiving corp, but appears to have issues of his own lately. And they just looked BAD last year in the playoffs, but there is something to be said for them making it to the playoffs for the first time in consecutive years EVER for that franchise.

    But, much like Green Bay last year, because who would have believed the Packers would have won it all a year ago, Atlanta had to claw their way into the playoffs which seems to favor those kinds of teams lately. Just look at the Panthers, Giants, Packers, Cardinals, and Steelers all of which were number wild cards, even 5 or 6 seeds, that at least made it to the Super Bowl if not won it in recent years.

    You never know.

    To be continued…

    • With Peyton Manning’s injury the pendulum has swung so the NFC is back to being the top conference.
      Good luck with your Falcons. I can see them beating the Giants and if Detroit somehow manages to beat New Orleans Atlanta gets to play the 49ers in the second round and could possibly win that game, But I just can’t see them outscoring the Saints or the Packers.

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