No major American team sport compares to football for me. And the postseason is a huge reason why. There is no long series of games. There is no redeeming game 1 mistakes by forcing game 5, 6, and 7. There’s no strategizing of which goalie or pitcher to rest and which to start—and where and when. It is sixty minutes of game time where two 53-man rosters leave everything out on the field because if they don’t, they’re done. It’s the shootout in the wild west. The gladiator bout in the Roman Coliseum. It’s every to-the-death film, television, and literature metaphor you can think of. It is all there is, and there is no more. And for a fan, there’s no slow let down as your heart breaks incrementally over several days. The game turns on a play and expectations implode and the highest adrenaline high turns into a depressed mockery of everything you spent 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 weeks rooting for.
I’m picking the Patriots. I hate typing that. And I don’t even know if statistically they’re the better or worse team. But I do think that, this season, New England’s quarterback has the bigger shoulders. Whatever he has to do, he will—even if all it is is to hand the ball off as we saw last week.
As for the NFC game...I’ve read a lot of columns picking the Seahawks. Most of the writers say the Niners are currently the better team playing better football. But the Niners will lose, basically, to the stadium. Not the Seahawks. Their stadium. And to be fair, that argument holds weight in Seattle. But I don’t think stadiums win championships; I absolutely think they don’t win this one. Crabtree, Boldin, and Davis…all healthy. Kaepernick making strides improving progression and keeping his eyes downfield as he starts a run. And eight game win streak and five of the last six on the road. I’m not saying the Seahawks can’t win. They most definitely can. But I think only if they go back to lights out football. In the end, though, I think the Niners will everyone counting themselves among the 12th Man.
Here we go.