This is why the NFL Playoffs are better than the BCS

Yes, the Florida Gators won their second BCS championship with a 24-14 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners. The season’s end was of course embroiled in the controversy, for the sixth time in 10 years (I thought the new system was supposed to clear up the confusion not further institutionalize it). There are loud voices of outrage…again.

This time the argument is that the Utah Utes have been robbed of the college championship for the second time (the first time was in 2004). Luckily my preference for the professional game really pays off this time of the year. It is not a bowl committee deciding which single game decides the “best” team, but NFL Playoff tickets that will give a definitive answer.

As a sports fan I love to argue about scenarios, teams, and players, but ultimately I like to have some closure. This weekend four teams will get some closure and four more will get to dream for another week.

The Divisional Playoffs begins with the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans. I watched as the Ravens defense pummeled Chad Pennington last week, but this week I expect the Titans to assert the dominance that gave them a 13-3 season and a first round bye.

Kerry Collins may not be the most explosive quarterback in the league, but the running backs are relentless and have proven themselves against teams with a similarly stingy run defense like the Ravens. Also, Flacco did not look great against a soft pass defense last week. Imagine the hurt the rookie quarterback is going to be feeling at LP Field on Saturday against the even tougher Titans defense.

The NFC game on Saturday brings the Arizona Cardinals to Bank of America Stadium to play the Carolina Panthers. The Cardinals surprised me be beating the Falcons last week, but I cannot see them beating the Panthers. This will not be a blowout though.

Carolina has one of those defenses that bends, but does not break. Well, Kurt Warner and his company of receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and an injured Anquan Boldin) will be able to break that D. However, the Arizona does not actually play defense. Last week was a tease as far as I am concerned and the high scoring offense (seventh in the league at 25.9 points a game) should be able to run all over the front seven at home.

Sunday, after my hangover, I get to watch the Philadelphia Eagles come into Giants Stadium and get stomped by the New York Football Giants. I do not care how much love the city has for Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. The pass rush from Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka is not going to let the veteran quarterback sidestep sacks as easily as the Vikings did.

Also, Westbrook is playing without any practice. If the Eagles had any solid receiving options outside of Westbrook (yes I am aware that they have the sixth best passing average in the NFL) then I would give them a chance. The Giants have simply proven themselves too good when they have Brandon Jacobs in the lineup. The team is 11-2 with him as the feature back and with Derrick Ward and Ahmed Bradshaw healthy this team is simply scary, scarier than the Eagles rush defense.

The final playoff team for next week will be decided by the late game at Heinz Field between the San Diego Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have been winning despite injuries incapacitating their offense. They play at home and Ben Roethlisberger is expected to play despite the concussion back in Week 17 of the season. He still has yet to have a good game since Week 12 versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Chargers may only be 9-8, but they are in the midst of a five game winning streak. They have had emotional wins in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos to get into the postseason and against the heavily favored Indianapolis Colts last week. The defense has come alive and the offense is dangerous with the way Philip Rivers.

Still LT is doubtful thanks to a torn tendon, meaning that Darren Sproles will have to have another career-best game to keep the good times rolling. I think that the Chargers simply have too much to overcome (weather, injuries, and the Pittsburgh Steelers historic defense) for them to win.

I was 2-2 last week, so I am far from an expert, but I am pretty confident that I am right here. I still plan to watch each of these games because I really cannot find a bad game in the schedule.

NFL Sells Tickets to Playoff Games Two Weeks Early

There are only two games that need to be talked about after this last week. They are not the useless contests between the Bengals and the Browns or the 49ers and the Rams. No, they are the match ups between the league leaders.

I do not know how the NFL did it, but they managed to get the number one and two teams in both divisions to play each other. Whoever set this up deserves a huge Christmas, err…, Holiday bonus.

First the Tennessee Titans destroyed the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think the Titans did more than simply win the game though. Tennessee demolished any confidence Ben Roethlisberger had been building up. Big Ben had four big turnovers as he opened the game with two big fumbles, then managed to get the Steelers the lead, and then threw two picks, one which was returned for a touchdown.

Kerry Collins, Chris Johnson, and LenDale White had to do little more than simply not turn the ball over. Right now fans with Titans season tickets are looking forward to buying playoff tickets to watch their team march toward the Super Bowl.

Steelers fans have to be wondering if maybe Byron Leftwich would not be a better choice to lead the offense. Roethlisberger’s touchdown passes to Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes were impressive, but the man has not figured out that his offensive line is not nearly what it used to be. I’d say that every turnover was his fault. He lost the game and I have to question his ability to lead a team to the big game.

The second big game was between the New York Giants and the Carolina Panthers. This game was much closer and even went to overtime, but in the end it was a two-yard run by Brandon Jacobs that won the game 34-28.

It was a match up of two teams that featured run dominated offenses that utilized multiple backs. It showed too. The Giants Derrick Ward ran for 215 yards while Brandon Jacobs ended up in the end zone three times. The Panthers DeAngelo Williams scored four touchdowns and ran for 108 yards.

This game was an old school coach’s wet dream. Big runs, plenty of gut checking plays, and the number one seed throughout the NFC playoffs up for grabs. The Giants came in and proved that they were the better team, and more importantly, that Plaxico Burress would not be a distraction on the way to the Super Bowl.

NFL Tickets

The NFL Mod Squad – Vick, Plaxico, and Pacman – Every Saturday Morning

Between the days of cocaine suspensions in the 1980s and the steroid allegations of the late 1990s, there was a period where our superstar athletes were known purely for their on-the-field exploits and not their off-the-field antics. This was the early 1990s and at its pinnacle was ProStars, a Saturday morning cartoon on NBC that featured Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, and Wayne Gretzky fighting crime.

In the spirit of recycling, but in the spirit of the new Batman movies I think the series should take a harder edge. I think ProStars: The 21st Century should embrace this new age of scandal and bring Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick, and Pacman Jones together. I do not think they would be opposed, according to all reports they are quickly doing their best to get kicked out of the league and are destined to file for bankruptcy.

Yes, Pro Stars: 21st Century is the MOD Squad edition. Plaxico Burress takes over as the brains of the group from Michael Jordan. The New York Giants immensely talented receiver is by far the most intelligent since he is the only won to not face possible prison time so far. Instead he simply has a restraining order and has alienated everyone in the locker room, in an attempt to put the Giants season at risk. He no faces gun charges for carrying a concealed weapon into a club and then shooting himself in the league.

One may ask why Burress gets to be the brains. Well the answer begins with Michael Vick. Vick had an elite career ahead of him. He was destined to become one of the best ever at the quarterback position for his rare ability to throw, run, and lead and the chace to be the Atlanta Falcons’ savior. Those skills make a genetic freak and make him the closest kin to two-sport athlete Bo Jackson, making him the muscle of the group. He used that muscle to control the pit bulls of his Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting ring. He also managed to go bankrupt while serving time in prison. Vick had close to 18 million dollars when he entered prison eight months ago and now has filed for bankruptcy.

The sheer numbers in this case boggle the mind. I read Rick Reilly’s breakdown of the money trail and am dumbfounded as to why he continued to let his posse, which helped put him in jail, have anything to do with his money. You would think a man about to go to prison for illegal activities would change it up and shed everyone not related to him by blood or by association of having birthed his child, but no, boy genius kept the gauntlet of stupidity going. For those numerous reasons and the fact that he is going to get out of prison and immediately become a star in the Arena Football League, Vick is Jackson and not Jordan.

Every group needs its comic relief, a character who offers timely bits of amusing distractions to fill the gap between the scenes of the focal points. That player/problem is without question Pacman Jones. What would we have done with our thirst for legal mishaps with this man? The time between Vick’s trials and Plaxico’s breakdown would have left an awkward void. Enter the Pacman. We needed the allegations of his associations with drug dealers, shootings, and beatings to get us through those dull moments when football players were only discussed in terms of their on the field play.

I personally could not imagine a season without the possibility of Jones being kicked off a team or physical battery charges being filed by strippers. Pacman has stayed in the news enough in his first four years (including two years with the Titans, a year suspended from the league, and his latest stint with the Dallas Cowboys) to carry us from Burress distraction to Vick suspension. He completes the team. Now all we need is a Kanye West to sample the theme song, “We Are ProStars” (which is like a Weird Al version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”) and the ProStars redux is complete and ready for the new audience of children in the 21st century.

The AFC Postseason in the Post-Patriots Season

Two months ago, the AFC was written off to the New England Patriots. Then Tom Brady went down with a season-ending injury and it was like a completely different universe was born.

In the Bizarro AFC the Miami Dolphins are in the running for a wild card spot. The AFC East is up for grabs between the New York Jets, the Dolphins Wildcat Attack, and, yes, the Patriots. The Jets have Brett Favre working his magic and keeping Madden’s hope alive that he will get to say his name at least once a week without appearing obsessed. The Dolphins have shown that if you have three NFL running backs it is possible to make a high school offense work. The Patriots have somehow managed to find another quarterback in Matt Cassel.

The AFC North is a battle between the ailing Pittsburgh Steelers and the young and surprisingly scoring proficient Baltimore Ravens. Rookie Joe Flacco has suddenly given the Ravens an offense that does not always pressure them to give up less than 10 points. The Steelers have had to deal with a complete lack of an offensive line that has suddenly made Ben Roethlisberger relive some rookie nightmares.

The AFC South is safely in the hand of the Tennessee Titans. The only perfect team left has the advantage of playing a year that has found the Colts offense looking human. Peyton Manning has been waking up of late and making the reads that made him so deadly in the past. The Jacksonville Jaguars are far from making a run, but could play the role of spoiler down the stretch.

The AFC West is wild, again. The Denver Broncos score as much out of glee as necessity. The defense couldn’t hold a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Chargers are within striking distance, but have fallen to injury and their normal inability to make good on their potential.

The AFC looks like the only sure division winner is the Tennessee Titans, with the Jets, Dolphins, Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Colts, Broncos, and Chargers all within reach of the postseason. Fans will be searching those Titans tickets to see if they could beceom the second consecutive team to finish 16-0, Steelers tickets to see if they can overcome a season hindered by injuries, or Broncos tickets to simply see the team shoot for 40 points every game.