Monday, January 3, 2011

Funny Story: The Giants Beat The Seahawks This Year. By 34 Points. In Seattle.

I suppose I ought to start this by saying I don't believe the NFL should forsake its divisional breakdown. Divisions are necessary for creating a structure that enables an easy schedule rotation and fosters rivalries and fan interest. Also, I haven't done the math, but I'm fairly certain the odds of one team beating another on the road by 34 points, and then winning 43% more games during the course of that season, staying home while the pounded 7-9 division champ takes aim at a Super Bowl is pretty close to about a bajillion to one.

Oh, but that's why they play the games. Or at least that's why the Rams and Seahawks did whatever it was they did Sunday night to send at least one atrocious team to the playoffs.

Yes, some of you out there might have noticed that I'm a teentsy bit bitter about how the 2010 New York Giants season wound up, and before I continue I will acknowledge that the Giants had three chances to seal a playoff berth and were unable to do so. But let's be real. The Giants finished 10-6 this season, which, while hardly spectacular, is usually more than enough to get a team into the annual postseason tournament. And failing that, I think it's fairly plain to see that the Giants are better than the Seahawks.

The 7-9 NFC West "Champion" Seahawks.

Lest I put too much focus on the fact that, even with Seattle being a markedly difficult place to play the Giants absolutely beat the living shit out of the Seahawks earlier this season, let's remind ourselves that the Seahawks are 7-9. They lost more often than they won this season and yet somehow are actually in the playoffs. In fact, and this is where it gets fun, the only way Seattle can go down in the books as having finished the 2010 NFL season with a winning record is by winning the Super Bowl.

Call me a skeptic, but I don't see that happening.

Still, I don't want to give you all the impression that I'm crying foul over what has befallen my beloved G-Men, nor am I taking it as an opportunity to blindly throw arrows at people for my own amusement. Apparently, neither are the people in charge, either. I accept the fate of a team that looked like world beaters with roughly two games and eight minutes remaining in its regular season. One that still had its fate in its own hands despite an absolutely spectacular meltdown only to lay an egg in Green Bay in Week 16. One that could have still made it courtesy of an absolutely brilliant effort by a Chicago Bears defense were it not for the astonishing ineptitude of Chicago's offense Sunday. At this moment I will point to the Bears having a 3-0 lead in the third quarter and an interception returned to the Green Bay 15 yardline, which the Jay Cutler company somehow managed to turn into zero points.

I accept all of this. Because sometimes a team just has to take responsibility when it had the chance to leave its fate up to itself rather than chance.

But goddamnit it's frustrating to see the Seahawks in the playoffs when the Giants beat them in their own building by 34 points and won three more games. Like crazy frustrating. Unfortunately, those are just the breaks of the NFL sometimes. Those are the rules. Fair is fair. Besides, we're all a little better off when a stellar quarterback like Charlie Whitehurst gets to start in the playoffs, right? Yes, I thought so.

There are a few positives to all of this however -- or at least I'm trying to convince myself of that. For one, I can now watch the NFL playoffs free from the fear that I might suffer some tremendously horrifying heart attack, which, let's be honest, is always possible when the Giants are involved. Another positive is that I somehow went 8-8-0 last week in my football picks, meaning I finished the season with a winning mark of 127-120-10. What we can assume from that is, well, that I miscounted my games once because that adds up to 257 and there are only 256 games in an NFL season. In the interests of fairness, we're going to assume that I gave myself an extra win, meaning I correctly predicted 126 of the NFL's 256 games against the spread. I was correct a whopping 49.2% of the time. Not anywhere close to statistically significant either way, nor large enough for me to feel comfortable ever trying to make my living betting on football.

Hot damn Vegas is good.

In addition, the following bizarre statistical anomalies this year have reassured me that it was just a strange year, which we'll all agree to forget ever happened come February 7th.
-- The Giants and Buccaneers both finished 10-6 and did not make the playoffs while the 7-9 Seahawks did.
-- The Seahawks went 3-7 in their last 10 games.
-- The San Diego Chargers had the No. 1 ranked offense and defense in the League and did not make the playoffs. This can only partially be explained by the fact that nine punts were blocked in the NFL this season, and the Chargers gave up five of them.
-- The only team in the NFL to go undefeated in its division was, you guessed it, the Oakland Raiders. They did not make the playoffs.

Also, the final positive is that with the regular season over I can now know for sure just who the Giants will be visiting next season so I can start to plan potential trips to see a few new stadiums. This, of course, assumes there will be a season next year, and commissioner Roger Goodell came out today to say "Goddamnit, there will be." As it stands, I've had the Giants' 2011 visits to New England and San Francisco pegged as potential stops for some time, but the news that New York will also be visiting New Orleans and Arizona in addition to their divisional foes is intriguing. I won't know when, exactly, those games will be happening until April, but consider them all marked as potential destinations. And if you happen to live in any of those destinations, or are interested in traveling with me to them, well, we'll be talking. It's the least I can do to distract myself from the fact that I won't really care who wins any football game for the rest of the season. Well, except for the fact that I'll be rooting for whomever winds up playing the Eagles. In this case, the Packers.

Odd as that may be, I can at least respect the tradition of Green Bay and the fact that they aren't an annual rival of the Giants. Plus Lambeau Field is kind of awesome, so the Pack wins points for that.

I'll give you a full rundown of who is going to win this weekend and the rest of the playoffs later this week, when I've had the time to think about it analytically, but in closing, I'll give you a sneak peak of just what we'll be watching when Super Bowl XLV kicks off on February 6th.

Yep. You guessed it. Seattle vs. Kansas City for all the marbles.

Let's face it. It's the matchup we all wanted to begin with.

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