It’s a dream that begins in August. Titans of athletic achievement leaving their blood, sweat, and tears out on a remote facility with the goal of reaching the pinnacle of their profession. Though most will fall short, a chosen and gifted few will triumph. A lifetime of pain and sacrifice will culminate in one moment of elation. For the rest of their lives, they can hold their heads high as champions. As for those who aren’t able to savor that sweet taste of victory? Well, as sure as the sun continues to rise and set, another August will occur. The jerseys will be washed and the preparations will begin with aplomb. Most of all, there will be hope. Hope that these modern-day warriors will soon dine on the succulent fruits harvested after years of toil. The kind of hope that can only be found in August.
For those who didn’t understand, I’m talking about the #1 sport in America: Talking crap about everyone’s favorite football teams. In Erie, we are lucky enough to have 3 local teams. while our region has long been divided about our allegiances, we can all rest easy knowing our teams will not be a part of the Super Bowl festivities this year. While the Browns ran away with the off-season championship, they ran into significant problems once it was time to actually play the games. The Bills made significant strides towards shedding the label of a snake-bitten franchise but ultimately lost in the playoffs when quarterback Josh Allen lost the ability to connect with his diminutive wide receivers. Steelers fans are left to wonder what might have been if they weren’t forced to resort to computer-generated Madden characters at QB. Either way, none will be playing until next season.
Titans, Chiefs, 49ers, and Packers. That’s what we have left. Leading up to these championship games, we realized that the Idiotville team is fiercely divided on our playoff allegiances. Half of us actually have our favorite teams still alive in the playoffs. The other half is still waiting for the Steelers to go at least one damn game without committing a stupid turnover. We’ve decided to discuss our playoff teams. Odds are, you’ll agree with at least one of the guys.
First of all, let me say that I will be carrying on my lifelong tradition of pulling for the AFC. Packers fans always feel like those kinds that wax poetic about days past and hate anything that deviates from CTE-ridden players losing fingers to frostbite in muddy slogs of ground control football games. That’s not to say I like the 49ers either. Their fair-weather fan base has been a stain on the NFL for my entire life. We all know some Niners fans. They’re completely ambivalent to the game when they’re bad, but busting out that dusty old Niners Starter jacket when they’re good. When they’re good, they’re absolutely insufferable. Tons of fragile bros celebrating the emergence of RB Raheem Mostert like they had any idea who he was when they lost 13 games last season. It’s a franchise that has had a significant amount of success and a fan base that has earned none of that success.
That takes me to the AFC Championship game. While I have nothing against the Titans, my adopted playoff team is the Kansas City Chiefs. For years, we have watched the Chiefs fluctuate from Super Bowl favorites to forgotten losers and back multiple times. Some of the best regular seasons teams I remember played their home games in Arrowhead Stadium. Still, you can always count on the Chiefs falling apart in the playoffs. It must be agonizing to be a Chiefs fan. How many times have they entered the playoffs filled with hope while fearing an inevitable collapse? Those fans must expect a massive let down every season. Well, imagine if it didn’t happen. Imagine if a franchise known for choking in big games brings in Andy Reid, a coach known for choking in big games, and it all culminates in a Super Bowl victory. If you love an underdog, you should love the Chiefs.
Titans at Chiefs (-7)
I really like the way the Titans play: They can’t win if we have the football. Derek Henry has been nothing short of a revelation, and it’s one of those cases of “We can’t stop him, but maybe we can neutralize him” which is something that I think the Chiefs can do. In order to do so, Pat Mahomes will need to move the ball well, score early and often, and not get behind 24-0, because Tennessee won’t allow the Chiefs to put up 51 points over three quarters like Houston did last week. I don’t have a solid feeling about this one, especially with Andy Reid’s proclivity to step on his own dick when it comes to managing the clock at the end of the game.
Who I want to win: Tennessee
Who should win: Kansas City
Who will win: Kansas City 20-17
Packers at 49ers (-7.5)
I’m blown away by that 49ers pass rush, and they absolutely stifled the Vikings running game last week. Dalvin Cook is a better back than the Packers’ Aaron Jones, and the 49ers held him to 18 yards on 9 carries. I feel like Green Bay is doing this all with smoke and mirrors, because they don’t have any big names on defense, and Aaron Rodgers is their only certified star on offense. (You could make a case for Davante Adams, but go sell that shit somewhere else.) The 49ers were one of those teams that didn’t have me convinced for a long time this year, but now I think they’re the real deal. I like the 49ers at home, and I like them big.
Who I want to win: San Francisco
Who should win: San Francisco
Who will win: San Francisco 28-13 (and it won’t be that close)
I have been a Houston Oilers fan since I was about 8 years old and finally found football. I loved Warren Moon and the Run and Shoot offense. I was obsessed with the baby blue uniforms. I owned a sweet satin Starter jacket in grade school and really thought I was quite the bad-ass. I even had matching shoes. If I am being honest I still drape myself in baby blue every Sunday even down to the blue shoes.
Now my Oilers, which became the Tennessee Titans in 1996, have been a bit of tear and the end of the season and have clawed into the offseason as the #6 seed in the playoffs. It has been a wild ride from starting 2-4 fraught with offensive line injuries and a huge mid-season QB change. Also, the emergence of Derrick Henry as the NFL’s leading rusher has sparked a wildly dangerous offense that has beat both the vaunted Patriots and the ridiculously talented Ravens on the road in the playoffs. Now my beloved Titans are a game away from the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are the only thing in our way. Can King Henry and our underrated defense overcome the high scoring Chiefs? I believe so. Titans 31. Chiefs 28. I love an underdog and I love my Titans. #TitanUp
Take me back to my glory days, San Francisco 49ers! I am one of those few individuals who have lived through the suffering year by year. The ’80s and ’90s were sensational times to be part of this sea of fans (having won five Super Bowls). Steve Young and Jerry Rice were an amazing tandem to watch throughout the 90s, never missing a game. And watching all 53 players lift that trophy 25 years ago in Miami was the culmination of my childhood.
The early 2000s came about. Young retired due to concussions and Rice traveled across the bay to join the silver and black. It was atrocious for the franchise and the fan base. Rashaun Woods? A.J. Jenkins? Who are those guys? Well, I know who they are. Busted wide receiver draft picks that amounted to nothing, that’s who. I cringed as the years passed. Seasons of losing, seasons of inconsistency in the coaching staff, but then a couple of defensive masterminds took the helm.
Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary each had their own mindsets. Both using their knowledge of the game to contribute to a defensive front that only allowed one rushing touchdown in 16 games. Absolutely impressive. Fast forward a few years and in comes General Manager John Lynch.
Former Safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos, John Lynch used every first-round draft pick during his tenure, so far, to continue building this defensive squad. Fast off the edge are newly acquired Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. Blitzing up the gut is, also newly acquired, linebacker Kwon Alexander. And now-veterans Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner completing this defensive front. All year they were one of the Top 5 defenses in the league.
Can this defense help hoist another Lombardi Trophy? Absolutely. Do I have my doubts about other aspects of the team? Absolutely. Our saving grace, Jimmy Garoppolo, has a tendency to be a little nervous under pressure. Throwing errant passes to opposing defenders has stymied multiple drives in opponent territory. So what do we need to do to succeed? Keep the ball on the ground. The trifecta of extremely fast and powerful running backs can carry the offense. They’ll kill the clock. Keep the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, and/or Derrick Henry off the field. And let that pass rush attack. San Francisco can pull this off. This wouldn’t be a retribution game (referring to the 2013 loss to the Ravens) for me. I just want another taste of the glory days I remember. Go Niners, and always stay faithful.
As a Green Bay Packers fan, playoff football means a few things to me: seeing my breath and the breath of everyone on TV, not feeling my toes, and knowing no human being will throw the football more than 10 yards downfield on a zero-degree day with that 20 mph crosswind.
Of course, this year my Packers are going to San Francisco, which should be illegal. The only thing more fair-weather than that city are its fans. They have no business hosting a January football game, but, they’ll probably beat my squad my double digits. I’ll be pulling for my guys, but expecting them to be just as overwhelmed as they were the last time they went into San Fran.
As for the AFC, I admire what the Titans have been able to accomplish. It’s incredible, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them keep it going against the Chiefs. Sure, the Chiefs should win, but they were known as the NFL’s foremost choke masters even before they hired Andy Reid, which did not help.
Last week showed me that maybe this is a new Chiefs team, though. I don’t know how you can bet against the pure magic of Patrick Mahomes’ right arm. Their defense has improved over their past few games as well. The 1985 Bears they are not, but they have enough juice to get by the Titans.
I’d be thrilled to see my Packers in the Super Bowl against either team, but my hunch is that it’ll be the 49ers meeting the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Similar to how LSU’s offense overwhelmed anyone that stood in their way this season, the Chiefs offense will prove too much for anyone to handle. When the smoke clears, it’ll be the choke masters hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the very first time.
My love of the game has definitely waned in the past few years. I raised my son to be a fan of the game but when he asked if he could play, my joy of him watching it with me faded.
I loved playing the game in middle school but started suffering headaches after practices and games. My parents pulled me out before the last game of the season.
I now understand my parents’ concern for not wanting me to play anymore as I look at my own son and the fates of a majority of the athletes. They destroy their bodies for our entertainment. Even with a hefty payout, I would never let my son play.
With that being said, I still watch it and I’m glad that teams like the Tennessee Titans are shuffling their backfield up which, incidentally, keeps it healthier. This is why I hope they can upset the Chief’s porous run defense and get to the Super Bowl. I also hope more teams and positions adopt a similar by-committee style system to help alleviate the ridiculous amount of injuries faced by our modern-day gladiators.
Although a case can be made for all of the remaining teams to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, only one will be lucky enough to celebrate under the confetti shower at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium this Groundhog Day. While most of us will probably be disappointed with the result, we can all enjoy the fact that the Patriots will not be in the game this season.
Who is your team this postseason? Which one of us is right or wrong? Let us know in the comments or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org