Undoubtedly, football fans cannot stop gushing at the water cooler about the “crazy” divisional weekend that just unfolded. Where all four games were decided by six or seven points, a Hail Mary sent one game to overtime, a coin didn’t flip, and a 31-point halftime lead nearly went by the wayside.
To those aforementioned, giddy fans, there is but one question to be posed: Did you expect anything less?
If you’ve watched any football, ever, but in particular this 2015 season, you know that the NFL cannot exist without there being drama. Like the kin of the WWE, it has gotten to the point where it almost feels staged. If a 31-point halftime lead isn’t safe, then what is?
First, let’s address the AFC side of the “wackiness,” shall we? Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will face off with a Super Bowl berth on the line — this is shocking and unexpected! For the 12th time in 13 years, it will be either Brady, Manning, or Ben Roethlisberger representing the AFC in the Super Bowl, so it’s fair to scratch your head and ask, “What happened in 2012?” (Spoiler alert: Joe Flacco happened.)
Commissioner Roger Goodell gets one final (likely final, anyway) Brady-Manning showdown. That’s high ratings. Sky high. Ratings so high even legislators will be saying, “Legalize it.” And really, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
On the NFC side, our “fresh blood” will come in the form of Cam Newton and Carson Palmer, each making their first championship game appearance with a date with one of the Old Faithfuls waiting for them in San Francisco. By the time the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers take the field at 6:40 (give or take) in Charlotte, the AFC winner should be determined. Of course, with games running as long as ever, that may not actually be the case.
So what else can we take away from this “wild” weekend in which all four favorites won? A few life lessons, indeed:
-Andy Reid still can’t manage the clock against the Patriots, even 11 years after the Super Bowl XXXIX fiasco.
-Kansas City will not formulate a sports dynasty in 2015-2016.
-The Patriots have only lost one playoff game in the last six years (2010 against the Jets) in which “The Trio” of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman were all healthy.
-The Panthers apparently aren’t comfortable with big leads, as also evidenced by them squandering a 28-point lead against the Giants in Week 15 before escaping on a last-second field goal.
-Every time the Packers and Cardinals meet in the playoffs, you can set your watch to it ending on an overtime touchdown by the Cardinals.
-Peyton Manning has actually had more success winning in the playoffs with poor numbers than strong ones. When he led the 2006 Colts to a Super Bowl title with four playoff wins, he had three touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. Yesterday, he did not throw a touchdown pass.
With these life lessons in hand and the divisional round firmly in the rearview mirror, we can now brace for intense hype of two players on rosters of 53 as the “rivalry” takes one more turn. Oh, and the Cardinals and Panthers are playing, too.