Championship weekend is upon us and for the first time since 2011, and only third time since 2008, the Baltimore Ravens are not involved. That sounds pretty good to say actually. To be in it three times in five years would have been kind of bitter had Josh Bynes not tackled Tedd Ginn around midfield to end the 49ers comeback last February and give the Ravens their second Lombardi Trophy.
It certainly would have been nice to watch them participate again in the playoffs this season, but let’s face it, it frays nerves, causes gray hair and (in may case) makes it fall out. Let some of these other cities get their hopes dashed, dreams crushed and see parade plans canceled.
Think about the playoffs already. Cincinnati, for all the good mojo they created during the regular season, lost at home…again…in the first round. Nice job Bengals. Do us all a favor and go back to your holes. Please don’t win the division again. It embarrasses the AFC North.
How about the Chiefs? After two straight losing seasons, they were back in the playoffs (last losing at home to Baltimore in January ’11) and feeling spry after finishing 11-5. Then they choked a huge lead to a second year quarterback. Stew on that KC. And you can probably apply the same to Eagles fans. The only differences? Lost a small lead, at home, were 10-6 and were coming off of two non-winning seasons – they finished 8-8 two seasons ago.
The Packers weaseled in at 8-7-1. They had Aaron Rogers back at quarterback and all was looking up in Green Bay. That is until Phil Dawson connected on a short field goal to dash hopes, crush dreams and cancel parade plans.
This past weekend the big four muscled up. The 49ers showed the fans in Carolina what championship football was all about. Seattle throttled the Saints for three-and-a-half quarters before allowing them a chance to tie it late. I have my reasons to dislike Drew Brees (lets just say its fantasy related) but for the record, I usually root against dome teams. What a shame for the Crescent City. In San Diego, they don’t really make Super Bowl plans, at least not since the game itself stopped making regular appearances there. As for the Chargers, Phillip Rivers was never a favorite when at NC State. His gyrations Sunday didn’t do anything to erase those feelings. As for Indy, no sympathy here. Domed team, our colors and logo. They may have their day again, and soon, but not this year.
So here we go into the final four, NFL style. I can’t root for Seattle. I find the whole “12th man” thing kind of a joke. I thought that was Texas A&M’s deal anyway. The fans look like idiots and the weather always is rotten. Not even cold or snow rotten. Just 40 degrees and crappy rotten. Their home record may be a by-product of it being such a dreary looking place. Denver and New England is a toss up to me. I kind of lean toward New England because Brady seems to do it without stars around him and was never the chosen one, being drafted in the sixth round out of Michigan. Manning was the first overall pick in 1998 by the Colts. I also like the fact the Manning has the same amount of rings as Joe Flacco!
But mostly, they are at home. And if there is one thing I enjoy watching it’s a stadium full of disgruntled fans emptying out late in the 4th quarter like the Pats forced in Pittsburgh a few years back. The Ravens had a habit of doing that over the years too. Tennessee and Oakland in 2000. Miami in ’01. Miami and Tennessee again in ’08. New England in ’09 and 2012. Kansas City in 2010. And Oh yeah, Denver too last year (caution one F-bomb but one of my favorite clips of all-time!). Unfortunately, we have witnessed this here in Baltimore a few times. I saw Oakland in 1977. And Tennessee and Indy in ’03 and ’06 respectively. It stinks. But if it’s not my team, it’s kind of funny.
In the end, I think I will pull for San Francisco the most. With them and either AFC team, a Super Bowl that features two teams the Ravens beat to win Super Bowl XLVII would be pretty neat to watch. Go Niners.