As one of those unfortunate souls who lacks DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket and the emotional and mental fortitude to endure obnoxious, drunken football fans in sports bars on a weekly basis, it’s fairly rare I get to watch the exact game I’m most interested in every week, much less a small handful. More often than not I’m simply subjected to every Broncos game (which isn’t terrible) and whatever Game of the Week happens to be airing. (Though, as a Cowboys fan in Colorado, I have it a bit easier than, say, a Jaguars fan anywhere outside of Jacksonville.)
But! It is playoff season! Which means I not only get the one singular game I’ll only choose to miss by legitimate threat of life, but ALL of them! MADNESS. BEST TIME OF YEAR RIGHT HERE.
Of course, having said all that, I’m going to be right up front and admit I spent a good chunk of this weekend cleaning and baking and another sizeable portion moping. Hence the reason this inaugural weekly round-up is going to be lacking quite a bit.
But I’ll give it my best shot.
So, bright and early Saturday morning (read: 9:00 AM-ish, when I finally dragged my butt out of bed) I made my Divisional Playoff Predictions on Twitter:
Teams I hope win this weekend: BAL, CAR, DAL, & DEN.
Teams that will win this weekend: NE, SEA, GB, & IND.
Obviously, I didn’t go in with very high hopes. Though, personally, I like to believe a.) I am realistic, b.) I have learned my lesson from being burnt countless times since the late 90s and c.) I KNOW MY SHIT.
But here’s how it all went down:
The weekend started off with the Ravens traveling to Foxborough and promptly scoring two touchdowns in their first two drives. EXCELLENT start, I must say, made even better by Gronkowski nearly losing his pants in a tackle after catching a 46-yard pass. (Try Google Image searching “Gronkowski tackle butt” for an excellent capture of the moment.) Of course, a New England game wouldn’t be complete without Tom Brady throwing a bit of a tantrum and he did not disappoint when he got sacked midway through the second quarter and had a hard time standing back up. Sadly, after calming down a bit, he threw three touchdowns and ran in for another, leading the Patriots to an eventual 35-31 win.
For me, this was just the beginning of a deeply disappointing football weekend.
Next up was the Carolina Panthers in Seattle. While I was 100% certain going in that the Panthers did not stand a chance in hell of winning against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, I wanted it so desperately, that I thought it might actually be possible. I say this as a person whose primary team played at CenturyLink Field earlier this year and, miracle upon miracles, ACTUALLY WON. So despite the crazy-scientific acoustical flow and the obnoxious “twelfth man” phenomenon (not to mention, you know, a really really good home team) I know it can be done.
Alas, not by an 8-8 sixth seeded team.
That said, the Panthers really put up an excellent fight (at least in the first half), though I spent a good bit of the game fascinated by Cam Newton’s attempts to use a Gatorade towel as a hoodie. Also, after spending several hours cleaning and baking, I may have imbibed in a bit of vodka, which makes many of my memories of the game a little bit hazy. I do have an excellent memory of Kam Chancellor leaping over the offensive line to block Graham Gano’s field goal attempt and missing. TWICE. Amazing.
Ultimately, it was Chancellor again who put the nail in the Panthers’ coffin with his interception nine minutes into the 4th quarter which he then ran back for a touchdown. With a 31-17 win, the Seahawks moved on host the AFC Championship at home next week.
And then came Sunday.
Alright, so here’s the deal. Ever since flying the coop for college some fiftturjchgh-odd years ago, my father and I have made it a point to watch at least one game a season while physically in the same room together. A lot of the time, we manage to actually make it to a stadium to see a game live (as neither of us live in Texas, these are rarely ever home games) but didn’t have that opportunity this season. However, for less-than-happy family reasons, this Sunday we were able to watch our first post-season game together in well over a decade.
It would’ve been a more magical and heartwarming story if they Cowboys had actually managed to win, but as a Dallas fan who has been consistently disappointed since the late 90s, I can’t say I was at all surprised.
In truth, if the Cowboys are going to lose to any team, I’m happy it was the Packers. And it was a great game. Honest. Ignoring Fox’s desperate attempt to shove “Ice Bowl II” down everyone’s throats, the Cowboys’ complete inability to shut down Eddie Lacy, Dan Bailey uncharacteristically missing two field goal attempts, and the frustratingly controversial (and game-ending) call on Dez Bryant, it was truly a great game. For a while, I even had the utterly ridiculous hope that the Cowboys might actually win.
Of course, reality (and the better team) pulled through in the end, and the Packers took the game 26-21.
As a Colorado native, I consider the Broncos my #1 AFC team (and #3 team overall) and was hopeful that a win over the Colts might help soothe my Cowboys-inflicted broken heart – wow, that sounds like it could be Kenny Chesney’s new hit single – but wow, was that a stupid plan. (I’m going to admit flat-out, that I took VERY poor notes during this game and I remember next to nothing. I was still in mourning, really.) That’s my excuse. I’m sticking with it. I know the Broncos led going into the 2nd quarter and then never again. Perhaps my perception was colored by the aching wound in my chest, but it was an exceptionally boring game. Honestly, all the Broncos coaching drama since, as well as the inevitable speculation surrounding Peyton Manning’s questionable return, has been far more entertaining.
In the end, reality won out this weekend against my foolish hopes and dreams, and this coming weekend will find the Green Bay Packers in Seattle and the Indianapolis Colts in New England for the NFC and AFC Championships. And here are my predictions once again:
Teams I want to win: GB and IND
Teams that will win: SEA and NE
Here’s hoping I’m wrong.