"The Chargers are the only home/fave I like this weekend. Other than that, it's Cowboys, Cardinals and Ravens." -- Me, on Saturday, via Twitter
By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
The above statement proves a few things, one of them being that it's very difficult to predict the outcomes of professional sporting events.
But more accurately, what's been proven here is that I'm a terrible handicapper, at least when it comes to the NFL playoffs.
If you didn't pay much attention to football over the weekend, you might not know that all of those predictions were incorrect. The four teams mentioned above lost over the weekend.
What I'm reminded of by the Jets' upset win at San Diego Sunday is their big-brother Giants' surprising postseason run just two years ago. The Giants won all three of their playoff games on the road before winning arguably the most exciting Super Bowl in history over the unbeaten New England Patriots.
And now the Jets have a chance to win their third straight postseason road game this weekend at Indianapolis. Such a feat would send the Jets to the Super Bowl in Miami, where Joe Namath boldly -- and correctly -- guaranteed a win in the Jets' last Super Bowl appearance 41 years ago in Super Bowl III ... over the Colts.
If you've ever followed the best pro tournament of them all -- the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs -- you know that sometimes logic is a ridiculous notion. Many times a team that enjoyed a much better regular season, a team that seems on paper much more likely to win a series with its undermanned and overmatched rival, won't get it done because said rival has "a hot goalie."
"A hot goalie" is a term often used in April and May and can describe a team that otherwise has no chance to advance in the postseason. But the team does advance because none of its postseason opponents are able to get the puck past this hot goalie.
I think the Jets are one gigantic hot goalie right now. They're surprisingly well-coached by first-year boss Rex Ryan, they rush the ball better than anyone and they play good, solid, physical defense. That is often a formula for winning games any time of year in the NFL, but especially in a one-loss tournament in January.
A rookie head coach, a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back usually accomplish little more than what you see in places like Cleveland in recent years. But in New York, the home of the hot goalie, they add up to a trip to the AFC title game.