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The Playoff Payoff

8 Jan

Roll Tide!!

As I write they are firing up the hot dog roasters, the pyrotechnics and smoke-machines, two sets of Southern cheerleaders are pulling their tight white pants just so, and 90,000+ rednecks loose in the LA sunshine are ready to make animal noises as the sports hype orgasm that is the BCS Championship Game kicks off in Pasedena.

Alabama’s Crimson Tide face the Texas Longhorns, both teams undefeated on the season, both storied football schools, both with alumni who weigh an average of 400 pounds. The game itself will rate through the roof, far bigger than the NBA Finals or most World Series games.

I've run this pic before. And yet it never gets old....Hang 'Em 'Horns!

Yet its a Championship in name only. Division 1 College Football (or FBS) is the only significant league in the world not to have a playoff system for its championship. Instead, the participants are decided by computers running algorithms mixed with good old fashioned human guesswork, spiced with a soupcon of good ‘ol boy corruption.
This year Texas required the addition of an extra second to be put back on the clock at the end of the game so they could defeat the titanic Nebraska defense in the Big 12 Championship game. That crap’s fine in the NBA which has always flirted with turning into the Globetrotters/Generals with Lakers-Celtics/Anybody Else, but this instance was so flagrant and egregious in a sport not usually so cackhanded if I was Nebraka’s defensive phenom (and likely No 1 pick in the NFL Draft)  Ndamukong Suh I would have strangled somebody to death live on air.

What's scarier? Ndamukong Suh crushing you, or spelling his name without cut and paste?

MY PICK AS THEY KICK OFF: Alabama by 13.
To quote Ms Bullock on ‘Bama coach Nick Saban in The Blind Side – ‘I find that man very handsome’.

In their defense, the NCAA and the university Presidents claim that having playoffs would demean the regular season (and probably make them less money). And after watching the appalling turdfest that was last week’s NFL games, the last of the regular season, they have a point.

Apart from the Jets, no-one really gave full effort, several significant players sustained injuries that will rule them out of the playoffs and about 200,000 fans were ripped off for the price of their tickets as they watched football played at half speed by guys just waiting to get cut in the offseason. In an even more bizarre quirk three of the matchups from last week will be repeated this week in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Indianapolis had even pulled a Mick McCarthy and pulled all its starters the week before at the brink of an undefeated season to ‘rest’ them for the postseason. And without any relegation issues either (the genius of the EPL) you have to be some kind of fan to be sitting in the stands in -10C weather watching the Buffalo Bills wrap up yet another losing, pointless season. Or some kind of idiot.

Right, some kind of idiot it is then.

However, does any of this matter? Hell no. Playoffs are the GREATEST INVENTION ON EARTH. And single game playoffs are the ne plus ultra of the concept. None of this Game 5/7 bullshit. One and DONE. The potential for upset is far greater, the deep run of a Cinderella much more feasible (see ARIZONA last year). There is nothing better, whether you love the NFL or the Champions League or the World Cup of anything.

So listen Div 1 College Football: I love your open play, your colourful uniforms, your barely legal cheerleaders and your academic cheating, handgun, sexual assault and ‘donated’ Escalade scandals, but god do I hate that you don’t have a playoff.

one more for the Tide..

NY JETS v CINNCINATI BENGALS

This is a replay of the abomination played only last Sunday. In that game the Bengals were barely present and gifted the Jets a playoff game. That’s all the gifts they will get. Cincinnati will pound Mark Sanchez into hamburger and win easily.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES v DALLAS COWBOYS

Another replay, and this game actually has real edge. The Cowboys looked good last week but the Eagles may have been playing possum. And this game is really up to them. Eagles play well they win. Eagles play poorly, they lose. Unless Romo implodes (could happen) they are just passengers and this one is in the hands of Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. All of Philly just shivered, and not in a good way.

BALTIMORE RAVENS v NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The highlight of the weekend. Can a Baltimore with a still powerful but aging defense and an inconsistent offense take down a staggering champion on its home turf? Last week the Patriots lost their talismanic receiver Wes Welker and Brady is suffering a bad rib injury, yet you still believe that somehow, some way, they will find a way to win. That’s the aura of success. I really hope they still have one last run in them.

GREEN BAY PACKERS v ARIZONA CARDINALS

Yet ANOTHER replay from last week and again only one team showed up then. This will be VERY different. I think the Green Bay Packers take this on the road, unless Kurt Warner plays out of his skin. Which could happen. But who doesn’t want the Vikings to meet the Packers with the year on the line? Not me. So get on with it Green Bay. Mama needs new shoes.

PLUS!! When is someone going to do a rugby one of these?

– Mark Tierney