Super Bowl 2012: 5 Things We Learned from This Year's Super Bowl
This year, 111.3 million people in America watched the Super Bowl, meaning it has set a record for three consecutive years for most viewers.
And, as usual, the Super Bowl made it worth it; it was a game that came down to the last three minutes, which is what the audience asks for. Yet, also per usual, we always learn much more than just the final score at the end of the game.
There are the games within the games that, for true fans, mean just as much as the actual champion.
Questions that arise far from simply "who will win?" Questions like, what will a victory mean to Eli Manning's legacy? Or, for that matter, would a victory for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady cement their status as the best coach/quarterback duo of all time?
Here are those five little, less-noticed things that we learned from this year's Super Bowl.
Eli and Coughlin Are Both Going to Canton
Right before the season started, Eli Manning went on the record, claiming he was an "elite quarterback" in the league.
Suffice to say, this comment was followed by a lot of controversy, sparked by the fact that basically everyone outside of New York disagreed with Eli. In fact, many people in NY felt that he wasn't elite either.
Tom Coughlin was perhaps one of the only who stood up for him; 13 weeks later though, Coughlin was reportedly on the hot seat, with his team sitting on a .500 record.
Both were being very, very heavily scrutinized. And it would be foolish to think that anyone thought they were headed to the Hall of Fame at the end of their careers.
People believed Eli would merely go down as Peyton Manning's less talented brother, with one somewhat lucky championship. Coughlin would go down as a decent coach, who couldn't quite return to the promised land.
This all changed 180 degrees on Sunday. Both all but cemented their Hall of Fame paths, winning their second championship, against—again—the team widely recognized as the best of our generation.
If they get one more, talks about best quarterback and coach ever may commence...and we know that will also be followed by a heap of arguments.
'Eli or Peyton?' Is a Legitimate Discussion
This is another one of those cases where, prior to Sunday, the question would have sounded somewhat idiotic.
Peyton's statistics are far better than Eli's, and his team, in the regular season, has always been at the top of the standings, also unlike Eli.
But ask either of them, and they'll both tell you that at the end of the day, all they're fighting for is the trophy. And at the end of the day, Eli has two compared to Peyton's one in fewer seasons played.
Saying the younger of the Mannings could get more than two is perfectly conceivable, whereas it might be a bit far-fetched to say Peyton will get another one, considering his neck injury.
I'd say this is a bit more than just your everyday sibling rivalry...
The NFL's Playoff Seeding Is the Least Significant in Sports
Making the playoffs is obviously a very difficult task in the NFL, considering how small of a percentage of teams do make it.
Yet, once in the postseason, your seeds honestly don't matter at all. We've learned this year after year. The one advantage is the bye, but even that isn't all good and sweet, because of the momentum of the team that just won in the first round.
There are many reasons that the seeding is completely skewed compared to the other major sports leagues in America.
The little season means that if a team starts off slow, it becomes very visible and entrenched in their records. If a basketball team started off 4-4, they could quickly cover it up with a winning streak, and those losses would almost become nonexistent.
Yet, if a football team starts off 4-4, it very much affects their final record.
Football also leads all leagues in the amount of injuries their players obtain; add that to the short season, and it means that if a star player is out anywhere from two to four weeks, it can make their record look a lot worse come playoff time.
Finally, the playoffs themselves make a huge difference. Unlike the other sports, in football each playoff series consists of one game only.
Like Aaron Rodgers, every player in the league knows that no matter how well you play in the regular season, one bad game is bound to happen. If that bad game happens in the playoffs, there isn't a seven-game series to make up for it.
The Giants aren't the first team to come in with a somewhat porous record and out with the championship. But they are the most recent, and illustrative, evidence.
The Giants Are Belichick's Achilles Heel
Bill Belichick will undoubtedly go down as one of the best coaches of all time, and perhaps the single best of his era.
The reason he has shined so well comes from his ability to perfectly understand each team's weaknesses and exploit them perfectly.
Sure, sometimes he has to cheat a little bit to get there, but that aside, he has found a way to beat every single team playing his own game.
Every single team, that is, except for the New York Giants. They remain the only team he's ever lost to in the Super Bowl, and this happened twice. And it hasn't been sweet and spice and everything nice against the Giants in the regular season for him either.
Unfortunately for Bill, his career will be remembered as much for finding the way to beat 31 teams consistently in the NFL as for not being able to beat one of them.
His career isn't over, obviously, but this may have been the straw that broke the camel's back; the Belichick-era Patriots may never recover.
Preseason Predictions Mean Nothing
But, much like how little the seeding matters in the NFL playoffs compared to every other sport, preseason predictions matter less in football than in any other sport as well.
It's almost impossible. I haven't met anyone who can say with an honest face that they predicted the Giants would win, that the Indianapolis Colts would be the worst team in the league or that the Cincinnati Bengals would actually be relevant without either Carson Palmer or Chad Ochocinco.
So enjoy the articles, but please don't pay too much attention to them. Because no one actually has any grasp of what will go on in the league next year.
Thanks for reading.