There have been a lot of great games so far in the 2014 NFL season, and week 13 was no exception. Green Bay held off New England, Denver pounced on Kansas City, and New Orleans smothered Pittsburgh.
What’s frustrating to many is that, just when the Super Bowl picture starts to look clearer, you have games like you did the past few weeks. Denver loses to St. Louis, Dallas loses to Philadelphia and Chicago loses to everyone. Not that we should crown a champion before the first game, but usually a handful of really good teams emerge by midway through a typical season and then it’s pretty easy to handicap who the final two teams might be.
But not this year.
If you look at some of the pre-season predictions you’ll quickly see the problems. Sure, prognosticators had correctly pegged teams like the Broncos, Patriots, Packers and Colts to be the cream that rises to the top. But they also thought that Seattle would easily repeat as champs and that teams like the 49ers (oops) and the Chicago Bears (ouch!) would also be in contention. Not even close for the Bears.
So what happened? Last season Seattle took an outstanding defense and a mediocre offense and won the Super Bowl. In a league that is now dominated by offensive fireworks, that just doesn’t happen anymore. But high powered offenses can, apparently, be brought down to earth by not just great defenses, but sometimes mediocre defenses playing a great scheme. So, that puts us back to that old adage about “any given Sunday.” Meaning . . . you never really know who’s going to win.
And, while that might be fun to watch, it must be playing havoc with the odds makers in Vegas and the local bookie on the street corner who may have given long odds of a team like the Falcons or the Ravens making it to the playoffs . . . much less winning it all! I’m not going to say that it won’t come down to a Packer vs Patriots Super Bowl XLIX, but there are so many teams in both leagues that have a shot that you won’t know for sure who will be playing until those league championship games two weeks before.