In praise of the NFL playoffs

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A team wearing Titans uniforms lost today. They got trounced 23-0 by a team wearing Indianapolis Colts uniforms. Both teams benched their starting quarterbacks after one series. Both teams “deactivated” 8 starters. The Titans have six Pro-Bowlers and most of them did not play, or saw very limited action. (Later: Bonus quote from the Tennessean’s Joe Biddle – “It didn’t take long for Titans Anonymous to flood the field. Backups and their backups got into the scrap early. At one point early, the Titans had Tuff Harris, Tyrone Poole and Donnie Nickey in the secondary. Coming into the game those three players had combined for one tackle.

The game meant nothing as both teams had already locked-in their playoff bracket seeds. Even for someone like me, who has seen every Titans game and attended seven home games, it was harder than a pre-season game to keep up with who was playing what. “(The Colts are) playing very, very well, but there’s a chance we may play them again, so we just lined up and played today,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said after the game.

Nike takes a swipe at the NCAA’s
lack of a Division I football playoff.

So the regular season ended today and, technically speaking, the Tennessee Titans are the best team in the NFL. They ended the season with the best record, 13-3. But if such rankings were left up to the experts — the sports writers and ex-player/coach commentators — the Titans would probably be declared 5th or 6th place. Indeed, if it was up to the experts, the Colts would be named AFC South champions because their back-up players beat our back-up players today — and, well, you know, Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning, and all.

Fortunately, sports writers and ex-player/coach commentators don’t get to crown champions in the NFL. Not like they do in Division I NCAA football. The lack of a playoff system is so ridiculous, even one of the NCAA’s largest sources of sponsorship revenue, Nike, mocks it unrelentlessly in a tremendous ad currently running (see video sidebar).

Fortunately, in the NFL, despite the flood of predictions that will now start flowing, the only thing that will determine who will play in and win the Superbowl are the outcomes of playoff games.

But for the record, I’ll go ahead and get my predictions out of the way: On Saturday, January 10, the Titans will beat the Indianapolis Colts in Nashville. Eight days later, on January 18 at around 8:15 p.m. CST, the Titans will beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Nashville to win the AFC championship. (And despite what you’ll hear about towel revenge or Peyton Mannings’ perfection, I know for a fact the Titans can beat either the Steelers or the Colts as I’ve seen them beat both teams this year, live and in-person, at the venue where the games will be played.)

Two weeks later, the Titans will win the Superbowl in Tampa, although I have no idea what team they’ll play. It doesn’t matter. And yes, I’ll be there.

I’m a Titans fan.

What else did you expect me to predict?

  • I like your predictions… Go Titans !