It's official: I don't understand the NFL.
We've all heard about NFL parity (this graphic does a nice job of demonstrating the insane level of parititude in today's NFL), but what occurred in the opening game of the opening round of the NFL playoffs was not parity; it was ridiculous. Just mind-bogglingly ludicrous.
Last week I picked the Saints, Jets, Ravens and Packers. The only game I was 100% sure about was the Saints. At 10 point favorites, the Saints were money in the bank. I would have taken them at 14. That's how bad the Seahawks were/ still are.
The Saints went up 10-0, and it looked like we were on our way to an old-school romp-fest. And then the worst team in NFL playoff history turned on the jets.
I don't get it.
The Seahawks are a bad team. People will now say that their 7-9 record is deceiving. I agree. They are a weak 7-9.
They were 2-6 against teams .500 or better. They are in the bottom half in every important stat (points scored, points allowed, pass yards, rush yards, pass yards allowed, rush yards allowed...etc.), and in the bottom third in most of these.
At negative 97, they have the third worst points differential in the NFC. Only the Panthers and Cardinals, inarguably the two worst teams in the NFC, had a lower point differential.
Yet, they still hung up 41 points on the defending champions, the most points the Seahawks had scored all year and the most points the Saints had allowed all year.
Now, the Saints are not as good as they were last season, and they were banged up at running back. But the fact still remains that the Saints are somewhere between "much" and "waaay" better than the Seahawks.
So what happened? Did the entire Saints defense simply mail it in, thinking that their considerable talent advantage would let them sail to an easy victory?
Matt Hasselbeck, he of the 73 QB rating and 12:17 touchdown to interception ratio, had a career game. Maybe he and Drew Brees switched uniforms.
Marshawn Lynch, he of the 3.6 yards per carry, broke nine tackles on a 67 yard touchdown run to seal it. This came when the Saints knew the Seahawks were trying to run the clock out. Maybe he was using illegal power-ups...
And it's not as if the Saints were caught off guard by an unfamiliar opponent. Earlier this season, the Saints beat the Seahawks in New Orleans by 15. Say what you will about home field advantage, but I don't think anyone would argue that it's worth over 15 points.
For all the talk of how great the Seahawks are at home, they had a 5-3 record at Qwest field this season. That's only one win above .500, and their only home win against a .500 or better team was over the San Diego Chargers, who were probably the most disappointing team of the year in their own right.
Don't get me wrong, the Seahawks deserve kudos for the huge upset win. All I'm saying is that whatever praise is due for the Seahawks, double that for how much shame the Saints deserve. I'm not buying the Seahawks. They are a bad team, and if I had to pick this game again, I'd do it the same.
No chance the Seahawks repeat their efforts this week against a tough Bears team in Chicago. No way. The Seahawks are a paltry 2-6 on the road, having beaten only one winning team.
That one team? The Chicago Bears.
I don't understand the NFL.
[End Angry Rant]
And now for my week two playoff picks:
Seahawks @ Bears: Seahawks win
Packers @ Falcons: Seahawks win
Ravens @ Steelers: Seahawks win
Jets @ Patriots: Patriots win