Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8... etc. etc. etc....!": A (Semi)Serious Look At the NFL Playoffs.



Today: The 11th most (least?) likely team to win the Super Bowl:

Atlanta Falcons.

Time was when I said I wasn't going to talk about the Falcons anymore this year, a decision I made three months ago that turned out to be dead bang accurate. I declared the Falcons dead to me on the basis of my belief that the team would do nothing interesting the rest of the season, and despite the fact that the Falcons inexplicably ended up in the playoffs, I was right.

I defy anyone to describe a single interesting thing the Falcons did this year. The Falcons are the single best argument for adopting my "Fan Vote Wild Card" idea, which someday will be a thing, because I am going to become rich (and maybe famous, although I'll pretend to hate that part) and will buy a team -- I'll probably move the Bills back from Toronto to Hawaii, where I'll live -- and I will use my influence as an immensely popular team owner to make the Fan Vote Wild Card a thing.

With that said, though, it's hard to decide which NFC team might be better to put into the playoffs than the Falcons, or, put more accurately, it's hard to decide which team the Falcons are worse/more boring than. The other NFC teams suffer from a similar lack of quality players and/or entertainment value. The Bears finished 8-8 but putting them into the playoffs instead of the Falcons seems futile since the Bears opted to try to make a run with Caleb Hanie rather than sign Brett Favre after Cutler went down. Favre may have been no better than Hanie, skillwise, but he would have been far more entertaining than Hanie and WhathisnameMcCownOrWhatever were.

(Favre, like Tebow, is liked or hated primarily on whether you take sports seriously or view them as entertainment. If you're serious and gung-ho about your sports, you probably hate Brett Favre and Tim Tebow and some of the other lightning rods that pop up in sports from time to time, because you feel they detract from the purity of the game or something. But if what you want to see is Green Bay fans burning things in effigy because the Ol' Gunslinger is wearing Bears colors, then you love Favre and Tebow.)

I view sports as entertainment, which is why I hate the Falcons, the team that brought us the single most boring Super Bowl ever in history; Denver's greatest obstacle in getting Elway his second ring was simply "not falling asleep" when they looked across the line of scrimmage. The Dirty Bird was deadly boring, and still is.

(As a side note: Can you hate Tim Tebow and like most Big 10 football? Wisconsin, for example, is known for its running attack, as are many college teams. But people who love the college game still criticize Tebow despite the fact that he's essentially running his old Florida offense in the pros. Tebow was 126 for 271 this year, playing in 12 games, averaging about 10-for-22 passing. At Florida, Tebow appeared in 55 games, going 661 for 995, or about 12-for-18 passing.)

You can see how exciting Atlanta is, when I spend most of its preview talking about anything but Atlanta. I get the feeling that's what happens all over Falcon Nation, "Falcon Nation" being "three guys with nothing better to do."

To show just how boring the Falcons are, I googled "Atlanta Falcons Exciting" and found this Pro Football Hall of Fame page that details the many exciting things the Falcons have done over the years, including:

-- beginning their history by being purchased by an insurance executive.

-- hiring a former Lombardi assistant as their first head coach

-- beating Minnesota... in season ticket sales by a new team.

WOW! I'm breathless. Or in a coma. Hard to tell which.

Atlanta's 52 net points this year was the 5th lowest by a playoff team. Their 46 touchdowns were also the 5th among playoff teams -- only the 49ers, of playoff teams, scored fewer touchdowns. Aside from that, in nearly every category, they are middle of the road, neither entertainingly bad nor hopefully good.

Now, let's talk Matt Ryan. Ryan was a 3-year starter at Boston College, which doesn't seem to count for much these days, does it? When was the last time Boston College was a power in football, period? I found an article that said they were number 2 in BCS rankings in week 2 of 2007, Ryan's last year there.

Boston finished that year ranked 14th. Ryan had a couple of bad games, Boston College lost 2 conference games, and Ryan threw 19 interceptions, 2nd most in the nation. For that, he was given the "Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award," given to the nation's most outstanding quarterback, and if that isn't a slap in the face to Johnny U, I don't know what is.

That tale of 2007 sounds like it's the Grisham*

*I've decided to use the word Grisham for any storyline that gets repeated over and over with only minor changes to the general plot

for Matt Ryan's career, doesn't it? "Lots of accolades, lots of high expectations, ultimately not accomplishing all those things we thought he would but lets give him more accolades anyway." Last year, the Atlanta Borings were the #1 seed helmed by "Matty Ice," the dumbest nickname ever applied to a quarterback**

**It was nowhere near as good as, say, The Throwin' Samoan, but, to be fair it's hardly Ryan's fault he's not Samoan.

and yet they bombed out against the Packers without much of a fight at all, and then eked through this year making the playoffs not so much out of their own merit as they did by virtue of the fact that Chicago's quarterback got hurt. Had Cutler stayed healthy (or had the Bears signed Favre), the Falcons would be letting someone else lose to the Giants in the first round.

Boringness isn't a virtue in the NFL; nor is being completely overrated, and yes, the Falcons are the second-least-likely team to win the Super Bowl this year.

Their Symbolic Celebrity Fan:

Kenan Thompson.

No, I don't know who he is, either. Bleacher Report says he's a Falcons fan, and according to his biography he's primarily known for being in Mighty Ducks movies and a bunch of other stuff you never saw. Here is his Bleacher Report photo, in which he is comically (?) pretending that a hilariously (?) oversized tennis racket is actually a guitar:


I'm not sure what the business cards thrown about the floor are; I'm assuming they're put there by Kenan in hopes someone will pick them up and book him for a show.

You've never heard or cared about Kenan Thompson, and his career has been marked by quick failures of minor note... like the Falcons and their playoffs.

What kind of weird, cheap stuff can you get from the Falcons' shop?

The actual Falcons' pro shop comes up third on the list when you google "Falcons shop," and since money spent at the team's pro shop goes directly to the team instead of being spread around the league, you can tell just how much effort Atlanta's putting into promoting their team; apparently, Falcons ownership and management are as bored by the team as the rest of the world.

Once you find it, the website itself lets you shop by price range, offering both "Less Than $10" and "On Sale". I went to sale, where I found I could buy this:



That's the "Atlanta Falcons Halloween Light-Up Ghost Figurine," and originally it would have set you back $34.95 but you can pick it up now for only $19.99. The website will only charge you $4.99 if you want 3-day shipping, but you can get it next-day for $19.99 in case your lawn looks too bare between Christmas and Valentine's Day.

Doesn't the Jack O'Lantern look like it's falling asleep?


Team 12 was Houston (and that was before I knew they had Jeff Garcia on their roster!)

5 comments:

Grumpy Bulldog, Secret Agent said...

The really dumb thing about the Bears is their season ended last year when Cutler got hurt and Hainie had to come in. So you think they'd go out and get a veteran backup just in case Cutler got hurt again. Nope. And then they wait until like the last week to bring in Josh McCown, one of the Mediocre McCown brothers, who are the Bizarro Mannings or the slightly more current Detmers. Everyone in Chicago should be saying, WTF? Which is why they fired their GM and their offensive coordinator resigned, which is too bad because it breaks up the former Lions brain trust of Martz and Marinelli. (Gee, who'd have thought that wouldn't work out?)

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