I like sports. A lot. I watch them all the time. Last night, I attended a basketball game, while following another basketball game, and listening to the NFL playoffs, on my phone. Like I said, I like sports.
As a result of watching them, I also know a fair bit about them. I know who the better team is, I know what teams do well, I know what they don’t do well, and I have a pretty fair idea of who’s going to win.
Except I don’t.
In my NFL playoff pick ’em contest, I got three of four games last weekend, and the one I missed was the one I was least confident about. No big deal, I still had my final four teams available.
Well, as of this writing, the Texans and Patriots are in the first quarter of the final divisional round game of the weekend. So far, I’m 0-3. As are the majority of pundits.
How does this happen?
How do people who watch game every week, people whose job is literally to know who is going to win games, can be so wrong, while the old lady in the office who picks based on mascots or jersey colors takes home the money?
The easy answer is, “bro, you overthink it.” That’s patently false. The Denver Broncos were far and away superior to the Baltimore Ravens this season. The only area in which the Ravens were better than the Broncos was special teams…and the Broncos returned two kicks for touchdowns during the game. And yet, when Denver missed an opportunity to take a 14-point lead into halftime and instead the game was tied, well, you had to know it would come back to bite them. Final score: Baltimore 38, Denver 35, in double overtime.
Then in the late game, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown two minutes into the game. All he did after that was shred the Packers’ defense for 181 yards…rushing. Another tie game at halftime turned into a rout as the 49ers took it, 45-31, despite Green Bay employing Aaron Rodgers, a Super Bowl winner and one of the consensus top three quarterbacks in the league, and Kaepernick making something like his eighth career start.
Side note: I picked the Broncos over the Packers in the Super Bowl. HIGH FIVE!
Then this afternoon, the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons took a 20-0 lead over the red-hot (and arguably better) Seattle Seahawks. Nobody believed in the Falcons, yet here they were dominating the Seahawks, a chic pick to make it to the Super Bowl. However, we quickly saw why the Falcons had no respect, as 20-0 and 27-7 leads turned into a 28-27 deficit with less than a minute to go.
All Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan did was drive the Falcons down to the Seattle 31-yard line with 13 seconds to play. Kicker Matt Bryant came out, took a field goal attempt…and missed it wide right. BUT! In a display of one of the most controversial tactics in football (studies have shown it doesn’t work, and actually hurts the team doing it), the Seahawks called a timeout to “ice” Bryant. Instead, he got a mulligan, split the uprights, and the Falcons won.
I don’t know how I feel about icing the kicker, but I know how I feel about what happened today: it’s bogus. The Falcons lined up, the Seahawks called timeout, the official near the sideline blew the whistle, the other officials blew their whistles, a second or two went by…then snap, kick, miss, oh well, let’s do it again.
There should be a delay of game penalty for teams that take practice kicks well after the whistle when a timeout is called. I understand that in the heat of the game, often with the result on the line, it can be tough to hear the snap. But that was ridiculous. The whistles blew, time passed, and THEN the Falcons took a practice kick.
(Obviously, I picked the Seahawks to win, and for 45 minutes they did not deserve to win. That being said, I can’t stand to see tight games decided on crap like that.)
And now, it’s 3-0 Houston. Rob Gronkowski just left the field and went to the locker room. Patriots fans…do I even have to tell you who I picked in this game?