Monday, January 4, 2010

NFL Is Your Sport, but Who Is Super Bowl Bound?

This was a season of suspense, a season that defined a team’s longevity and willpower.

We are witnesses of an incredible journey from a league that has paranoid our senses.

If you’re wondering why we suffered greatly and have impatiently waited for the season-opener of a 16-game regular season, well, it’s because we grasp the mindset of intense, non-stop drama.

Isn’t this what we live for, a dramatic year that could magnetize our minds and raise our self-consciousness? Aren’t fans essentially infatuated with football until the Super Bowl?

Despite a potential lockout in the 2011 season and merciless concussions and head injures that have raised much concern throughout the year, fans are in for football.

As sports depart from a relentless age of sleazes who cast shame on a league, our society truly admires an indelible season that expunges a dreadful period of DUI criminals, dog-killers and psychotic goons.

It doesn’t take long to cure a league where rebellious players try to get away with their despicable actions.

Whenever there’s a stern, narrow-minded commissioner willing to eliminate touchdown celebrations and constitute a personal conduct policy, crimes vanish and much tension mitigates.

Besides cracking down on mischievous megastars, the Indianapolis Colts excited us with their successive streak, a franchise that almost reached a historic plateau.

On Bourbon Street, the New Orleans Saints intrigued the hearts of avid fans as the home team achieved the improbable and captured an historic milestone by finishing the entire season unbeaten.

Early on, the Denver Broncos were in conversations for their incredible streak, and were unbeaten before collapsing midway.

But now, teams such as the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers are surprising us, as we sit back and relish an engaging postseason.

Any team can win the grandest prize on the biggest stage at this point. It’s impossible to ensure that any of these teams are ultimate champions. This has the makings to be a riveting postseason.

There’s no telling if the Minnesota Vikings are worthy of flying to Miami, even though they have arguably the most weapons, entering the playoffs.

There’s no telling if the shaky Saints deserves to dance in South Beach, after losing three consecutive games. And there’s no telling whether the Colts would falter in the AFC Championship game if they meet the San Diego Chargers, the villains and hottest team making it to the playoffs.

Until further notice, we don’t know which team will dominate. It depends on the environment, weather conditions and momentum, though.

Football is a sport of momentum, and vital fundamentals are required at a time when winning is meaningful.

By the end of the first round, maybe it would be easier to forecast. But until then, analyzing the likelihood of a franchise’s status is unpredictable.

Where tailgate parties reside, the Jets played their final game at Giants Stadium in the frigid climate

Amid a night of playoff ramifications, die-hard Jets fans renamed the venue, “FINAL GAME AT JETS STADIUM."

What turned into an exhilarating site, Jets coach Rex Ryan’s mental toughness and inspiration paid off. Whether he’s portrayed as a sensitive moron or someone who’s just ill tempered, he has cultivated an adverse group.

As we all know, media personnel in New York are critical of underperforming sports teams.

So clinching a playoff berth is huge for the Jets, a franchise that has coped with much scrutiny and mediocrity. Sure enough, the Jets can beguile us all by advancing to the AFC Championship game.

There’s no need to place a hot team on the backburner when Ryan has been specialized in defense.

Don’t forget there’s a rookie quarterback by the name of Mark Sanchez, who was willing to take on a steep challenge and implored the Jets to select him in last April’s draft.

Isn’t it fair to refer to him as Sanchize?

But more so, credit the lethal defense for elevating the intensity level in the late weeks.

In a rematch against the inspirational Cincinnati Bengals, who they routed in a 37-0 win, the Jets will have to attempt to win two games in six days.

In general, I’m impressed by the Jets’ tenacious defensive core.

On any given week, a forceful defense could spoil an opposing team’s optimism.

The NFL’s best defense happens to be the Jets, despite their 9-7 record that barely qualifies for a legitimate taste of the postseason.

Mind you, Darrelle Revis and Dwight Lowery are shutdown cornerbacks, with quickness and awareness. That hurts for an explosive wideout as proficient as Chad Ochocinco, when these two teams meet again for a significant matchup.

The Bengals are practically ailing in the receiver core, and Ochocinco is nursing a sore knee. That raises concern, especially when prolific quarterback Carson Palmer could use his primary target to exploit an unparalleled passing game.

Either way you view it, the best team, the scariest team and the team nobody wants to play are the Chargers.

Turns out they are the Super Chargers, exposing an outlook that defies logic with their ability to move the ball efficiently on the ground.

LaDainian Tomlinson is a decisive factor in the Chargers' chase for a potential Super Bowl appearance, as is a sturdy Philip Rivers. Late in the season, Coach Norv Turner has relied on the growth of Rivers’ passing game.

His powerful throws are significant, if the Chargers expect to pass the test of wills, which includes advancing to the Super Bowl.

In recent weeks, the masses have anointed San Diego and have given the Chargers the edge.

If so, tight end Antonio Gates must play a large role. To be honest, he has been, by far, the most productive star in the receiver core and amassed 79 catches for 1,457 yards.

Near the goal line, Tomlinson is lightning fast and he’s not to be reckoned with.

He has 12 touchdowns and isn’t easy to slow down inside the 20.

Doesn’t that remind you of Ravens’ running back Ray Rice?

There’s no doubt that he’s the difference in the Ravens’ entertaining offense.

The arrival of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has improved the Ravens' offense mightily, offsetting a typical 3-4 defense. His offensive recipe is designed to force the 3-4 into a nickel or dime formation, making life easier for Baltimore’s running game to explode.

No wonder Rice is the biggest star of an emerging offense and discards all of the weaknesses.

He’s the most entertaining and dangerous runner in the AFC, lethal with a remarkable 1,338 yards and a 5.3-yard average.

This should be enough to put a scare on the faces of New England.

Yes, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are well experienced, but they’re deteriorating before our very eyes.

After losing all its veteran leaders, New England is amid a rebuilding stage and has been dealing with road woes.

Wipe away an effortless win at a neutral site in London, and the Patriots would’ve officially been 1-6 on the road this season.

Because they have much mystique and dominated in the prior decade, the Pats aren’t forgotten just yet.

Then again, they might be out of the picture for good. The last thing New England needed was a severe injury to change the complexion, especially when it involves a speedy receiver.

Wes Welker, a primary target and a dynamic weapon, sustained a left knee injury. It’s believed to be a torn ACL and MCL.

That could cost New England a trip to Miami. He was a receiver the Pats relied on heavily, in what appeared to be Welker’s breakout season.

He led the league with 123 catches for 1,348 yards and four touchdowns, but Belichick is now forced to rely on a temperamental Randy Moss, who not long ago, created a distraction when many acknowledged that he had quit on his team.

Good luck facing a tough-minded Baltimore defense.

Seems safety Ed Reed is healthy enough to disrupt and frustrate Tom Brady in the first round of the postseason. This season, Reed was sidelined for four games with a groin injury, but his presence intimidates any team's offense.

There’s also the hard-hitting Ray Lewis, the veteran linebacker who applies unsympathetic hits to players.

Let’s not leave out the Dallas Cowboys, a franchise that owner Jerry Jones has earned his money from a new and colossal venue.

For once, Dallas avoided derision and further doom in December.

For the rematch, the Cowboys will face the Philadelphia Eagles next Saturday. For the longest time, they were fragile in December and couldn’t steer clear of letdowns.

Still, Dallas is a much-scrutinized franchise, until it captures its first playoff victory.

After escaping T.O. drama and after Tony Romo dumped Jessica Simpson to leave alone the celeb lifestyle, he's focused on improving as a quarterback and the Cowboys started performing at a high level.

Wade Phillips is delighted and confident he has salvaged his job status by winning a playoff game.

Like anything else, we try our hardest to guess which team will survive the next few weeks, leading up to the Super Bowl.

Did you know nothing is guaranteed?

How about you just watch and see what happens.

After all, it’s the NFL where drama lives.