NFL playoffs: the best time of the sports year

Cameron Turner

Playoffs in any sport are exponentially more exciting and enjoyable than the regular season. Oftentimes regular seasons in any sport can drag on and become monotonous. Add in the fact that sports with many games over the course of that time, subsequently then each game is ‘less important’ due to the sheer volume of games.

This brings me to why I feel the NFL Playoffs are truly better than any other in American sport. There are 16 games in the 17 week regular season. The playoff landscape of win or go home – one game matters and your whole 14-2 season is down the drain. This adds excitement to a sport that is already viewed as America’s most popular sport.

This is not a knock on Hockey, Baseball, or Basketball but I feel personally coming from playing sports in my past that sports are meant to teach a lesson. One such lesson to be taught is the importance of the here and now – every play counts, every game counts – and therefore even though watching Lebron James and the Cavaliers come back after a huge series deficit to win the NBA championship was fantastic – that mentality shows that it is okay to lose a few games here and there, because eventually you can pull off the big win. In reality, sporting events are a microcosm of the real world, and therefore, it is all about winning and the lessons you take away from the losses to win later on down the road.

In football, all too often you see a red hot young team go into the playoffs with high hopes, and just dissipate in the face of a more mature team. The bright lights can be too much for some, no matter how good they were during the regular season. Therefore, I enjoy watching teams go through this process of playoff football, everything is on the line, it is sink or swim.

For instance last week, The New York Giants lit up social media when their receiving group was photographed partying on a boat in Florida some time before their first playoff game against the Green Bay Packers. The Giants then went into their game against Green Bay and lost by a terrible score of 38-13, as the more veteran Packers were able to take control in the second half of the game. This lack of focus on the grand prize of a Superbowl championship shows the immaturity from the Giants, as receivers like Antonio Brown were notably home training vigorously before and after the Wild Card game– as his Steelers are now advancing further into the playoffs after defeating the Miami Dolphins last week 30-12.

I appreciate when I see teams win a game and instantly focus on the next game, this ‘we made the playoffs’ mentality needs to end as far too many teams – and people in life – are happy just making it to the big stage. This should never be the goal, the goal is to go all the way, reach your dreams and goals, and this cant be completed if you are celebrating a minor accomplishment.

Wild Card weekend was full of disappointing games as the many young up and coming teams fizzled out when faced with the veteran teams who have been in playoff situations in years prior.

Some may argue that the playoff series over just one game is a better aspect when it comes to the game itself and it allows a team to recover and persevere through for the win. However, just speaking logistically and even though the NFL’s ratings are hurting in 2017, the Superbowl will still have the most viewers when compared to other championship games. When speaking on a game or life level it is evident that games become more lax in a game one of a World Series, rather than the tension felt in a elimination game.

The mindset of having the Giants and the Packers – both highly successful in years past, and in the 2017 season – with everything they have worked for all year be on the line, all compact in one 60 minute game intrigues me.

Therefore, I will get to the part where I give my take on each of the upcoming Divisional round games of the NFL.

This week on Saturday, Jan. 14, we have the 11-5 Falcons hosting the 10-5-1 Seahawks at 4:35 p.m. and the 14-2 Patriots taking on the 9-7 Texans at 8:15 p.m.

The first matchup is quite intriguing, as the Falcons are a team with a potential MVP winner of a quarterback at Matt Ryan and hold the better overall record. As much as I would like to see the Falcons overcome the Seahawks I can see this game going down to the final minutes in order to be decided. The Seahawks have battled through injuries but hold the maturity level over the Falcons as they have made multiple playoff runs and even Superbowl runs in recent years. I am going to go against my better judgement and choose the Falcons to win this one by a close score of 27-24.

The later game on Saturday is cut and dry. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will devour the young Texans led by below-average quarterback Brock Osweiler. This will not even be a matchup, as the Patriots and potential MVP Tom Brady win in a landslide at 30-7.

On Sunday, Jan. 15, is when the one and done scenarios get real exciting. The early game at 1:05 p.m. features the 12-4 Chiefs taking on the 11-5 Steelers. While the later game at 4:40 p.m. will have the 13-3 Dallas Cowboys hosting the 10-6 Green Bay Packers.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers will come down to star power, and how these stars respond in a big playoff game. The Steelers are riding off of their quarterback Ben Roethlesberger’s arm as well as the talent of wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell. If the star studded Chiefs defense is to overcome them – in what could possibly be their best chance at a Superbowl run – they will need to play with composure as they have all of 2017. I am calling it the Chiefs win over the Steelers in a nail-biter 20-17.

With the most recent news of Packers star wide receiver Jordy Nelson not being medically cleared to suit up for the Packers vs. Cowboys game on Sunday, I am unfortunately changing my prediction. Originally, I was going with the hot and more weathered team in the Packers – due to Dallas relying on too much inexperience with their rookie phenoms Dak and Zeke. However, as football is a team sport, it does come down to all the team being ready to play. Although, I think quarterback Arron Rodgers and the Packers will use the next man up mentality and it will suffice, making it interesting, I can not see them pulling off the win in Dallas. Dallas wins 27-21 at home.

With having the top seeds advancing to the Conference Championships in each the AFC and NFC leagues, I am looking forward to see if my predictions hold strong, or if I will be proved wrong.

With one last shot here I do appreciate the fans of all teams who can step back and recognize when their team is lousy or when their team loses. This rational approach to sports, while not being so infatuated in the love of their team, allows for a more complex look into whatever sport it may be. Let’s see if the fan-bases of the Packers, Cowboys and Patriots can hold up to this if a loss does occur and not simply slump into oblivion, grasping at every excuse they come across.

As for me, I will sit back and watch some solid football games this weekend, knowing my Indianapolis Colts had a very subpar season at 8-8. I am happy to say their terrible season is okay with me, as I know no excuse can change it and life goes on, no amount of me saying they’re the best can change the scores of 16 games.

Enjoy the weekend of playoff football and stay safe in the New York weather.