Super Bowl 51: Playoffs Review

Let me preface this by saying that I am not really looking forward to the Super Bowl this year, at least not on a personal level. I have nothing really against the Atlanta Falcons, and though I have a lot against the New England Patriots, I still can’t find it in myself to care all that much either way. I love football and I love rooting for teams even if they’re not mine, but these two just don’t have enough to get me invested. For me, football, and sports in general, is about unreasonable faith and emotion.

I don’t root for the Giants because they’re the best. I root for them because I can’t imagine a world in which I don’t. It’s in my blood. Super Bowl LI isn’t creating that magic just yet, in large part because the 2017 post-season was all in all disappointing. I thought that as the season draws to a close, I could recap the playoffs in preparation for the biggest game of the year.

Starting in the AFC, the conference I admittedly care less about, there were the Patriots, Steelers, Dolphins, Raiders, Chiefs, and Texans. Everyone’s predictions had the Steelers and Patriots in the championship, with maybe the Chiefs as a contender. The Raiders were initially a threat, but it didn’t go their way. The Raiders had risen from obscurity at the hands of their quarterback Derek Carr, among other key players, but they entered their first post-season game since 2002 without him because of injuries. They played with back-up Connor Cook against the Texans and ended with the Texans on top 27-14.

The Dolphins played an underwhelming game against Big Ben and the Steelers, with Pittsburgh leading 20-6 at the half and winning 30-12. This was the wild card round; in theory, it should have been the scrappiest teams fighting for a chance to push their luck for gold. Instead, it was uninteresting. In the next round, the Patriots steamrolled the Texans 34-16, in a game that was basically called from the second it began.

The Steelers and the Chiefs match was one of the only two good games in the playoffs, with the Chiefs coming back from a 18-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to 18-16, but with a broken up two point conversion the Steelers regained possession and held on for the win. That left, as expected, the Patriots and the Steelers to fight it out for the championship. In a fantastically lame game, the Patriots came out on top 36-17 for their ninth Super Bowl appearance. Hardly anyone put up a fight.

In the NFC, there were the Lions, Seahawks, Giants, Packers, Falcons, and Cowboys. In this conference, the Cowboys and the Packers were expected to make the journey to the end, with the underrated Falcons possibly sneaking up on them. The Lions played the Seahawks in a game so ridiculous, it’s hardly worth discussing. The Seattle defense demolished Matthew Stafford, and the ‘hawks came up with a 26-6 win.

In a game too distressing for me personally to describe in detail, the Packers played the Giants. Odell Beckham Jr. dropped some passes he shouldn’t have, and the Packers caught fire in the second half for a 38-13 win. Again, wild card matchups in which the losing teams both lost by at least 20? Preposterous. In the second of the two good games this playoff season, the Cowboys and the Packers duked it out for dominance. With a thrilling last-second field goal, the Packers came away with a 34-31 win and the rookie dominance of Dallas, with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot, came to an end. Then the Seahawks played the Falcons and could not hold on to the prowess they had shakily built over the course of the season. 36-20, Falcons. Championship Sunday and in a shocking show of the yips, the Falcons dominated the Packers for a 44-21 win. It was painful to watch.

My goal here is to explain why this Super Bowl will be a little lack luster. Sports are most fun when it's a nail biter or an upset. Having this many games with foregone conclusions or uneven scores isn’t as exciting. It’s not that I’m bitter about my Giants, though I am a little bit, it’s that I wanted my playoff season to make me sweat. Regardless, I’ll be watching the game come tonight and I hope it’s an adventure.

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