(Aside: I was even toying with the idea of doing a really fun/silly column, featuring, among other things, some of my own examples of ideas for NFL-themed erotica. After making some notes, and laughing myself absolutely silly, I determined that the best ones would probably be unpublishable.)
Then, the next day, that bullshit story about deflated balls started circulating. In the course of a few days, I lost pretty much all interest in writing about anything to do with the NFL. Sure, there have been negative stories surrounding the NFL before; there have been plenty just this season alone. And there have been dumb stories before, too. This was just too much for me somehow. After the extraordinary things that had happened in just a couple of weeks' worth of football, for a story this incredibly stupid to have dominated the public consciousness the way it did, and the way the media continued to stoke the fire, was almost more than I could comprehend. And it was incredibly stupid, a non-story if ever there was one. I could go into great detail as to why. GREAT DETAIL. But there's no point, really. If, after taking a reasonable amount of time to think about it, you think that the Patriots are guilty, in the context of being a team playing in the NFL, of cheating in order to win the AFC Championship Game against the Colts, then you probably suffer either from blind hatred for a football team, or from some other mental or emotional deficiency (And who am I to judge?). To reason with you would be a waste of time.
Still, the big game seems tainted now for me. I've avoided pretty much all media leading up to the game this week. I just don't want to hear any of the stupidity. And I can only imagine the dumb things that will be said after the game, as the media puts its revisionist spin on what the outcome means based on the whole stupid scandal. So, I'm focusing on the game. I'm watching the game, and then I'm done with the NFL for a while. For quite a while.
So, to the game then.
NFL Championship Game
at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
Based on everything I've seen from these two teams both down the stretch in the regular season and in the playoffs, my pick is actually pretty easy. I won't tease; it's the Patriots' game to win or lose. They are, without a doubt in my mind, the superior team. And, more to the point, offence against defence, defence against offence, Seattle does not match up well against them at all.
In order for the Patriots' defence to stop the Seahawks' offence, they have to limit the damage done by Marshawn Lynch, and keep Russell Wilson from beating them with his legs. Seattle's passing game? Not really an issue. Their offensive line isn't that great, and they don't have nearly enough talent at the receiver positions to give the Pats' secondary much of a problem. A disciplined approach by New England's defence, a hallmark of Belichick defences, will limit the opportunities for Lynch and Wilson to make big plays. Green Bay was able to do it, and they don't have nearly the talent on defence that the Pats have. I have a hard time picturing the Seahawks scoring a lot of points.
Now, the Seahawks are known for their defence, and their defence will do just as good a job stopping the Pats offence, right? And how do you do that exactly? Well, the New York Football Giants will tell you that if you can get to Brady and knock him around a lot, the game is yours. Unless the Pats' offensive line plays terribly, or suffers some injuries, that's not likely to happen. In passing situations, Brady will get the ball out quickly, like he has been doing, and like Aaron Rodgers did in the NFC title game against Seattle. The Seahawks' vaunted secondary was not able to stop Green Bay, nor will it be able to do much with how the Pats will attack them. Green Bay did themselves in by being too conservative and not putting Seattle away when they had the chance. Does lack of aggression sound like a problem that a Belichick team has?
I've been saying for weeks that Seattle fattened up their record by beating up on teams with weak QBs, and that they only won their division because the Arizona Cardinals lost too many key players to injury. Yes, Seattle is in the big game, but that does not change the fact that Aaron Rodgers, on one good leg, proved me right. If these two teams go out and play their absolute best, the outcome is obvious.
Patriots 33, Seahawks 20