Although 2 teams flirted with perfection (Colts - Saints) the season has been somewhat of a bore this year as to date we have not seen many compelling stories (unless you count LJ being shipped out of KC) even that one is boring.
The defending champs have not played to their status (yep Troy is their real MVP) despite having most of the roster back from the SB XLIII team.
Seeing teams fight it out for 2 playoff spots with 8-7 records shows that there is some mediocrity (not parity) left in the game. No one wanted to "dominate" this year. Yep even the mighty Colts took a knee on the Jets in Week 16. The Saints who sprinted out to 13-0 are now 0-2 in the last 2 weeks. They were backed in to the NFC top seed with the Vikings going 1-3 in the last 4 weeks.
So are we to expect dominance or upsets in the upcoming Super Bowl tournament? Rightfully, the smart money may be on the Chargers who are perfect for December in the past 4 seasons. However, has anyone checked their January record in those past 4 years; pretty dismal!!!
New England has shown moments of brilliance but a depleted defense has shown that the armor isn't as solid as it once was despite Brady's continued high level performances.
Can the Bengals create a story book ending despite the tragedies that beset the team this year? Marvin Lewis is one of the good guys in this league and one could compare him to be quite Dungy-like with his approach to the game, even with the bunch of characters on this team.
The Colts will be the Colts and may find ways to lose again in the playoffs, whether a game saving tackle by an opposing QB or a missed crucial FG by a highly regarded precision kicker.
In the NFC, Dallas has shaken some of the December ghosts away from this team but still has to win it's first playoff game in a dozen or years to buy any credibility from the Cowboy fan.
Will the Saints find another gear after getting 2 weeks of rest? (yep expect most starters to rest for week 17).
The Vikings are stumbling in to the tournament at 1-3 and Brett's years will show once again as they did last season when he sputtered to finish off the year. We may read sometime in February that the good ole gunslinger had two broken fingers and a broken rib since week 12.
Arizona? Are you kidding, they got hot at the right time last year but who can really bet that lightning will hit twice on the same spot.
The Eagles may be the toughest team to beat as the defense remains solid and the return of Westbrook will ensure plenty of options for D-Mac.
The stories have yet to be told, simply the early prognostications and speculative wishfulness of team fans and supporters.
I'm looking for the compelling stories that came out of last year's tournament - Larry Fitzgerald rising to Superstar Status; A smash mouth Ravens - Steelers like match up that put up all the marbles in a Conference Championship; A mighty mite like Sproles who won the hearts of the "little" guys and a game ending catch for the ages that made the winning team 6 time champions.
Their will be a lot of keyboard punching from now to then and I'm looking forward to reading and writing along with the millions of NFL fans.
LJS - DEC 30-09