Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 9:20 AM
Today is Thursday, January 19th ... and this is what Jim Sez:
Okay, so maybe we are getting up on our proverbial soapbox, but so what!
It's high time to take a look at how the NFL Playoffs have gone in recent years and - in case you were not aware - the loss last Sunday by the Green Bay Packers marked the fifth time in the past four years that a conference #1 seed was beaten in the Divisional Playoff round and that's in eight overall games, mind you.
In other words, top conference seeds now have not even gotten to the Championship Game round some 62.5 percent of the time since the 2008 season and that's not good.
For one reason, it diminishes the regular season - hey, hats off to the New York Giants but this is a club that actually had a four-game losing streak from mid-November through early December and yet they "peaked" or "got hot at the right time" and so now the G-men are one single win away from a Super Bowl opportunity.
The 15 wins they piled up during the 17-week regular season means nothing at all and, yes, we know Green Bay had the home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs and all but the fact remains that winning in that wild card round for many NFL teams has a shot-in-the-arm result and so this year the Giants are the one-and-only lower-seeded playoff team (they are a #4 seed, not a #1 or #2) to barge their way through and it's the Packers that are licking their wounds and privately hinting that the week off (a/k/a the first-round playoff bye) might have hurt'em.
Sure, maybe folks who like to say that it's better to have "everyone with a shot" at getting to the Super Bowl at the start of each/every post-season has a point but now we've had a 15-1 Green Bay team this year, a 14-2 New England Patriots team last year and also a 13-3 Atlanta Falcons team last season all get dashed from the Super Bowl chase even before the NFC and/or AFC Championship Games and we're wondering aloud whether this trend is here to stay or perhaps it's just a bit fluky with the 2011 Packers, 2010 Pats and '10 Falcons all really losing games they should not have lost in their own backyards.
Here's the complete lowdown of #1 conference seed playoff failures in the NFL Divisional Playoff round dating back to the 2008 campaign:
In the 2011 playoff season, #1 Green Bay (- 8.5 points) lost to the New York Giants 37-20 in NFC action
In the 2010 playoff season, #1 Atlanta (- 1.5) lost to Green Bay 48-21 in an NFC Divisional Playoff game while #1 New England (- 9) was dashed 28-21 by the New York Jets in an AFC Divisional Playoff round game
In the 2009 playoff year, both NFC #1 seed New Orleans and AFC #1 seed Indianapolis made it all the way to the Super Bowl with the Saints winning 31-17
And in the 2008 playoff season, the NFC's #1 seed the NY Giants (- 4) lost to Philadelphia 23-11 and the AFC's top-seeded Tennessee Titans (- 3) fell to Baltimore 13-10.
Count us among the folks who like the way the playoff system works - there are byes for the top two seeds and one would think the idle week would help heal battered/bruised players but like other sports including Major-League Baseball and the NBA it's apparent that getting hot at the right time is more important than your body of work - the irony here is this hot-at-the-right-time bit worked for the GB Packers last year and bit'em in the rear end this year and so they've seen both sides of the deal.
We just don't like it: Not that any/all playoff teams should be denied the right to get to a Super Bowl but we simply don't like the fact so many #1 seeds the past four years haven't so much sniffed the Super Bowl and don't you think the game itself would be better with a couple of 14- or 15-win teams battling for all the marbles in the end?
Call it a new era in the NFL.
And one that we're not a real big fan of even if the folks in New York City this week are dancing along Broadway with visions of another Giants date in the Super Bowl dancing in their heads.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to roll on with the NFL Championship Games this Sunday as Baltimore tangles with - yes a #1 seed in New England at 3 p.m. ET and than the aforementioned NY Giants play at #2 NFC seed San Francisco at 6:30 p.m. ET plus remember there's NBA and College Basketball winners all week and weekend long too and so just make sure you're all aboard when you check with us at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get it online right here online?
NOTE: Get our AFC and NFC Championship Game Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.