If the the seedings hold in the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl will be my greatest nightmare -- New England vs. Seattle -- the two teams I hate the most. The worst part is that one of them would have to win.
If this is the matchup on Feb. 1, I will be rooting for a giant meteor to strike Earth shortly before the 6:30 p.m. Eastern kickoff. I will be blown to bits, of course, along with every other human being, so that's the downside. The upside is that the Patriots and Seahawks will be deprived of a Super Bowl title. There are always tradeoffs in life.
The Patriots have been the NFL's Evil Empire since 2003 (I liked their 2001 team since it had a Cinderella vibe). They are led by Bill Belichick, the fashion disaster, signal-stealing swinger, which makes them easy to hate. He's also the best coach in the NFL by a mile, which only intensifies the hate.
Their quarterback is Tom Brady, who has become a whiny little twit. He's a sore winner and sore loser. When the Patriots win, he's high-fiving, head-butting and spiking the ball like a rookie scoring his first TD, not a veteran with three rings. And when he loses, he's dropping F-bombs at his defense and acting like a spoiled brat. He's not "fiery" or "competitive," just an annoying jerk.
Brady is not the same QB he once was, but he doesn't have to be. He has the best tight end in football in Rob Gronkowski (the one Patriot I actually like), a shutdown defense and wonderful special teams. Brady's job these days is to put together a couple of drives and not screw things up. For that, he has announcers slobbering over him like he's the 2007 Brady, not a guy near the end of his career and lucky to be with the right team.
Seattle is new to the "being totally annoying" game but they learn fast. Their coach is Pete Carroll, who fled USC one step ahead of the NCAA posse, earning the Trojans major sanctions while he landed a cushy gig in Seattle. This is the same guy who this summer lectured holdout running back Marshawn Lynch on honoring his contact. Gall is not Carroll's short suit.
The Seahawks version of Tom Brady in the insufferable category is cornerback Richard Sherman, who for some reason has carved out a reputation as an articulate voice of a new generation of players. In fact, he's little more than a boorish loudmouth who loves denigrating opponents. Unfortunately, he's also the best cornerback in football, so no one has yet been able to shut him up.
Those are your two favorites to meet in the Super Bowl -- I might have to watch the Puppy Bowl instead. There is hope, though. Only twice since 1993 have the top two seeds won their conferences (2009 and 20013). The Patriots are a pedestrian 4-3 in home playoff games since 2009 and the Seahawks lack explosiveness on offense. The team with the best shot to knock off the Patriots is the Denver Broncos, who match up talent-wise. But in the Brady-Peyton Manning playoff history, the home team is 4-0, and it's hard for me to see Denver winning in New England in mid-January. I think the team in the NFC best-equipped to beat Seattle is Dallas. The Cowboys won there early this season but having to depend on Dallas in a playoff game is a risky prospect. Forget the Packers beating Seattle -- Aaron Rodgers is just an average road quarterback and has struggled against good defenses all season.
Short of one of the 10 other playoff teams knocking off the Seahawks or Patriots, and with a meteor strike unlikely, we may be facing a Super Bowl from Hell. There is one possible savior yet -- the North Korean hackers who took down Sony. Get the NFL to cancel the Super Bowl and we have a vacant title this year. It would be the first good thing Kim Jong-un has done for me.
Update: Hell is upon us. It will be Seattle vs. New England.
Around the league:
--Wild card picks. In the NFC, Carolina over Arizona. The Cardinals don't have a functional quarterback and their defense is tiring and springing leaks. Dallas over Detroit. The Cowboys were only 4-4 at home but the Lions' offense is way too inconsistent.
In the AFC, Indianapolis over Cincinnati. This is a bad matchup for the Bengals, who lost 27-0 to the Colts earlier this year. Baltimore to upset Pittsburgh, if Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell can't go. I like Baltimore's big-play passing ability. If Bell is healthy, the Steelers by a field goal.
--MVP: JJ Watt, not Aaron Rodgers. Watt has been the best player on the field in virtually every game and helped lead the Texans to a 9-7 record despite shaky quaterbacking. Rodgers has been amazing at home but mediocre on the the road in four losses. No one that Jekyll and Hyde deserves the MVP.
--Perfection: The Kansas City Chiefs finished the season without a wide receiver catching a touchdown pass. In the pass-happy NFL, with the rules favoring quarterbacks and receivers, that's almost impossible to conceive of.
--Top pick: The Buccaneers won by losing and will get the top pick in next year's draft. It's likely to be Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, the league's next stud quarterback and someone who can revive the Bucs franchise.
--Good fit: If the Jets fire Rex Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons should snap him up. He is a great defensive coach and that's what the Falcons need. And in Atlanta he would have a quality QB in Matt Ryan, an upgrade over Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith.
--Hot player of the Week: Eric Decker, Jets receiver. Going from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith/Michael Vick has killed Decker's production, but he shined Sunday with 10 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown. He remains totally hot, regardless of how he performs:
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