I am a sports traditionalist. If something is working and has been for years, just leave it alone.
So, when the National Football League announced in the off-season that it was adding two more playoff teams, one in each conference, I was a bit skeptical. This would now allow almost half the teams in the league to make the post-season. It seemed a bit watered down to me.
All of that changed this past weekend.
When the networks published the schedule of games, Wild Card weekend took on a whole new existence. By adding one more team in each conference, the opening weekend of the playoffs was now dubbed Super Wild Card weekend. Six games. Two tripleheaders. Get your chores done by Friday, fellas. There will be no hunny-do lists this time.
Suddenly I had a renewed interest in the games. I had no dog in the fight. The Patriots had long been eliminated. And my team, the Dallas Cowboys, failed to qualify despite being in the worst division – the NFC Least. Yes, therapy is helping.
Most of the games did not disappoint. Without an emotional rooting interest, I was able to enjoy the strategic part of the game, while also discovering a soft spot for some of the teams.
First example, the Buffalo Bills. After decades of being bullied by the Patriots, the Bills finally won the division and hosted their first playoff game in 25 years. Their fans still showed the scars of losing four straight Super
Bowls and the devastation of losing to the Tennessee Titans in the Music City Miracle. And, now due to the coronavirus, only a third of the stadium capacity was allowed entry. Still, they outlasted the Colts and get to play at home this weekend.
Game 2 on Saturday saw an entertaining upset with the Los Angeles Rams knocking off the host Seattle Seahawks, before the prime-time game featuring Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs visiting Washington.
Now, let me set the scene here: Washington is my least favorite sports team (including all sports). But as they took possession of the ball late in the game, with a chance to win, I surprisingly found myself cheering for them, probably due to the fact they are no longer called the Redskins and also because I wanted Brady’s season to end. Neither of which I can explain. Get ready for Brady vs. the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees this weekend.
Sunday’s slate of games was just as entertaining. The first game illustrated the pure herculean talent of the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and was a sharp reminder that the Patriots had a chance to draft him. It more so exposed the mortality of Titans running back Derrick Henry. If the Ravens defense plays like that in the post-season, the team could win it all.
Round 5 of Super Wild Card weekend completed the second half of the Brady-Brees matchup as the Saints took out the Chicago Bears as expected. This will make for great theater this weekend, for we may never again see a playoff game featuring two quarterbacks over age 40.
So, with one game left to watch, I took a break to catch the end of “60 Minutes.” It meant only missing the first quarter of the Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game. Really, what could happen in the first quarter? Answer: 28 points by Cleveland. I had to adjust my set when I clicked over to the game and saw Clev 28-Pitt 0. Somehow, I knew the Steelers would make a comeback, but I was happy the Browns won and are moving on.
And being the only franchise in the field to have never played in the Super Bowl, they are my sentimental favorite this year.
Yes, it was a super wild weekend of playoff football. And if you somehow missed it, we get to do it all over again this weekend with four more games.
Hunny, don’t even go there!
If you have sports news to share, email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The weekly deadline for information is Tuesday evening at 6 p.m.