Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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

I jumped a team: Team 6 was to be The Detroit Lions, symbolized by this:



But I didn't get around to previewing them before they lost to the Saints last Saturday because in Detroit, due to the ongoing fiscal crisis, football games are only 30 minutes long, so the Lions weren't prepared for New Orleans' profligate ways: playing a full 60 minutes of football seemed to surprise the Lions, who, like a comedian forced to go long, used up all the good stuff in the first half.

There's no harm in skipping them, though, other than you don't get to ogle this:



for a whole post, because I was going to set the Lions at 6th Least Likely To Win The Super Bowl, and they wouldn't have made it past this week anyway, because if they'd won, they'd be going to "We're Going To Expand It By Selling You Literal Junk Stocks Lambeau Field" where a full-on effort wasn't enough to beat Former National Champion Quarterback Matt Flynn in week 17.

So, RIP, Lions, and take comfort in the fact that you (z) looked pretty good and (2.7) ended what was the second-longest playoff drought in the NFL, behind only ... *sigh* the Buffalo Bills, who at least will stand a chance of making the CFL playoffs when they move to Toronto next year.

On with Team 5, your Fifth Least Likeliest To Win The Super Bowl team,



The San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers this year had 8 players named to the Pro Bowl but only two of them were named on offense, Frank Gore and some guy who plays offensive line. So the strength of their team is defense, right?

Well, they did rank 2nd in the league for fewest points given up, right behind the Steelers, who couldn't, Sunday, stop the high-powered passing attack that is Jesus-to-Tebow-to-whoever-is-wide-open-down-the-field. But okay, they were 4th in the league for fewest yards given up, best in the NFC and just ahead of... the New York Jets who, um, finished the season. But they were 6th in the league for fewest yards-per-play given up on average just ahead of... um... the Seahawks so okay I...

The 49ers ran up an "impressive" 13-3 record by playing in a division where the other three teams had 17 wins, lowest of any division except the AFC South, where the 3 bottom-rung teams combined for only 16 wins. The net points for the NFC West was minus 93. The only other divisions with net negative points were the AFC West (a whopping minus 252) and the AFC South (-162). They lost to Dallas and Baltimore and lost to Arizona 2.0 late in the season, but they also barely beat the four playoff teams they beat: they played Detroit, New York Giants, Cincinnati, and the Steelers, and their average margin of victory in those games was 8.75 -- that total being upped by their late-season defeat of the Zombie Steelers; take out that 17 point win against a hobbled Roethlisberger, and their margin of victory goes to 6.

And those were the only good teams they played (being charitable and counting Dallas as a good team.)

Now, they have to go up against the Saints, who, overrated though they are, managed to outshoot the 5th rated passer in the NFL. Can the 49ers keep up with the Saints' offense? Alex Smith and his hypnotic eyes are ranked 9th in passer efficiency, maybe because he throws so little: He's ranked 27th in yards per game and 28th in attempts per game. When he does throw, he rarely throws it long: he's 17th in average yards per attempt, 19th in passes for over 20 yards and 20th in passes over 40 yards.

The 49ers, in fact, rank only 16th in average yards per passing attempt and 11th in total points, only 8th in average yards per rushing attempt. They win, it appears, because they hold onto the ball they're 5th in the league in time of possession per game on offense... but just 9 seconds more than the Saints, on average.

If there's a flaw in the NFL playoff picture -- and there is -- it's that teams tend to be overrated when they face a weak schedule and end up with a good record. Four of the last six Super Bowl winners were not number one seeds, and three of the last four number one seeds lost their first playoff game. Since 2000, four number 2 seeds have gone on to the Super Bowl, 3 of them from the AFC, which means that 1 out of 11 number 2 seeds from the NFC made it to the Super Bowl. (Can you remember which one that was?)

(Hint: It rhymes with Shmampa Shmay Shmuccaneers.)

This year's Overhyped Overrated Top Seed First Game Loser is the 49ers, of course, so the NFC season will begin and end with [SPOILER ALERT!] Saints at Packers.

Symbolic Celebrity 49ers Fan: Over on the message boards for the 49ers, a fan asked about famous celebrity fans, and another fan responded:
The ones I can think of are Dana Carvey, Danny Glover, and Huey Lewis.

What do they all have in common?






Right! They were all last good in the 1980s.

As a father, I would be remiss if I did not point out that Marissa Miller is also a 49ers fan:



Because that is important to know.

What kind of cheap stuff can you buy in the 49ers store to appease your wife for posting pictures of Marissa Miller on your blog?

That's right: I said pictures:



Off to the sale section of the 49ers shop, where, as you'd expect of a city ranked 8th on the list of wealthiest cities in America, there's precious little on sale. Your choices are an "Anthony Davis Replica Jersey" marked down from $84.95 to $59.99, or this handsome plaque of Taylor Mays dancing:

marked down from $29.95 to $24.99, and which is no doubt going to spark conversation in your "fan cave" (49ers words, not mine), conversation like "Who is Taylor Mays?"

He's a safety for the Bengals, of course. But you can, for just $24.99, remember the glorious days when Taylor Mays made 11 tackles for the 49ers, returned a deflected punt for a touchdown, was named the "indefinite starter" for the 49ers and then traded to Cincinnati for an undisclosed draft pick.

Or you could just hang a picture of Marissa Miller in your fan cave.




***********************************************************************


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9 comments:

Grumpy Bulldog, Secret Agent said...

I think the game plan for the 49ers is to use Frank Gore and short passes to grind down the field and chew up the clock so Brees can't have the ball. Since this is at San Francisco though the Saints aren't going to be indoors with the home crowd on their side, which also might slow them down. At any rate they might want to actually have a punter on the roster this week.

BTW, I bet Gregg Easterbrook was creaming his drawers at an NFL playoff game where one team never punted. He was probably running up and down the streets screaming, "I told you so!" The Lions might as well have never punted either since it didn't seem to matter where New Orleans got the ball; they'd score anyway.

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