In honor of the Jets bringing calm to an entire football nation after finally and mercifully getting eliminated from the playoffs, we present the WORST playoff scenario for fans and especially TV execs alike (outside of Seattle and Cincinnati, of course)...
Advice from the author: Similar to the mental process that needs to occur before watching every Homeland episode (or Skip Bayless), suspension of reality is an absolute must.
One more note: I'm not saying any particular playoff team SHOULDN'T be here...it's just a perspective on who the average fan with no horse in the race wants to see: Big-time QBs, old-school/classic teams, and familiar faces (i.e., Peyton vs. Eli).
Wild Card Round (AFC)
What is supposed to be a cakewalk for the Brady Bunch is a remake of its 2010 playoff nightmare at home against the Ravens. In that first-round exit, Baltimore raced out to a 24-0 first quarter lead courtesy of three Brady interceptions, and never looked back.
History repeats itself for the Pats, this time against another AFC North opponent. BenJarvis Green-Ellis disposes of his old team with a gritty, ball-controlling 117-yard, 30-carry effort, while the Bengal defense doesn’t stop, but contains, Brady.
A late A.J. Green circus catch for a touchdown propels Cincy to a shocking 27-24 victory, thereby destroying an insanely-anticipated Brady-Peyton playoff rematch. In a related story, Cincinnati is voted both America’s most loved and hated sports city in a flash Bleacher Report poll…
Ravens 23 Colts 20
Baltimore exacts REVENGE on the team that left its city (granted, almost 30 years later) with an ugly win in Maryland. Recently fired offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who replaced the somewhat-recently fired Cam Cameron, is replaced by recently-fired Chargers head coach Norv Turner, who is infinitely better when he doesn’t have to do the whole motivation and game management stuff...
The results are tangible, as Norv is wise enough to take the ball out of Flacco’s hands during all red zone opportunities and/or late in the game, when fumbles and crippling interceptions are the norm. Ray Rice sets a Ravens playoff record with 44 carries, as Baltimore effectively plays keep away from Rookie of the Year Andrew Luck.
Wild Card Round (NFC)
This NFC North rubber match goes to the visitors in another shocking upset, as Adrian Peterson sets a Vikings playoff record with 44 carries (216 yards) in a game the Pack otherwise dominates. But thanks to four missed field goals and an extra point by future UFL kicker Mason Crosby, Minny somehow advances to the divisional round.
In continuing an astonishing trend that began against the Cardinals in Week 14, Seattle breaks the half century mark for the fifth consecutive game.
RG-3 is rendered ineffective by a swarming Seahawk defense (the hideous wolf-grey road uniforms only add to the insult), and chants of “We Want Kirk” (Cousins) rain down from shocked fans at FedEx field.
Seattle would lead comfortably 37-17 with three minutes to go, and thanks to Pete Carroll calling a fake punt (resulting in a touchdown), followed by an onside kick (successful), followed by a double reverse flea-flicker (another touchdown), the Seahawks would set a franchise record for points in a playoff game. Afterward, Carroll apologizes and vowed not to do this again (voice trailing off) until the following weekend...
Divisional Round (AFC)
Bengals 16 Texans 13
The glass-jaw-but-top-seeded Texans get knocked out of the playoffs in the second round for the second straight year. Decision to wear Hawaiian-punch red uniforms is blamed, along with Matt Schaub’s no-show in another big game (17-35, 184 yards, 3 INT, 1 fumble).
Ravens 18 Broncos 17
Remember the advice to suspend reality? Stay with me here…particularly when considering how dominant Denver was in Baltimore just last week.
Here’s the sale: Peyton Manning plays well in warm weather and domes. Where he tends to fall down is in the snow.
Remember all of those non-competitive playoffs games in the white stuff versus the Pats in Foxboro?
Five picks, 17 points total in two games, both in snow (again, for the Broncos to lose it would have to snow AND Peyton would have to become Archie simultaneously)...
Baltimore isn't pretty on offense, but six Justin Tucker field goals, including one with no time remaining (an attempt set up by eight straight running plays by Ray Rice), would be the difference.
The Denver loss means no more Peyton, no Eli, no Brady, no Luck, no RG-3, no Rodgers, and therefore...nothing close to big ratings for the networks this playoff season…
Divisional Round (NFC)
Seahawks 44, Falcons 17
Yikes! Matty Ice and the Dirty Birds come up way short again in the playoffs against an eventual super Bowl winner, and absolutely no one is surprised! The casual fan’s worst nightmare (See: Seattle, their arrogant coach, those rancid uniforms) is now one game away from the playoffs, but without their quarterback.
Up 44-17 with less than two minutes remaining and Atlanta out of timeouts, Carroll calls for a fake kneel-down in victory formation, with Russell Wilson orchestrating a halfback-option-pass-back to the QB instead.
Asante Samuel has other ideas, however, and chases down Wilson after pulling a hamstring trying to score. Not a career-ending injury (which would be evil to root for, even hypothetically), but one that would sideline the rookie for the rest of the playoffs.
Seattle’s over-50 string would come to an end, but a date in the NFC Championship for the first time since 2006 would await…
Vikings 17 49ers 14
Once again, the Vikes benefit from an aging kicker suddenly forgetting how to, you know, kick straight, as David Akers misses three crucial field goals at windy Candlestick Park. After the game, just-released Brandon Jacobs is seen celebrating with random Minnesota fans in the parking lot.
Bengals 11 Ravens 2
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell arbitrarily fines every player and coach involved in this train wreck after the most horrific conference championship game witnessed since 1979 (a 9-0 Rams win in Tampa). After the game, Joe Flacco and Norv Turner are traded for Mark Sanchez and a player to be named in 2017.
Seahawks 16 Vikings 0
Field goal fortune runs out for Minny as Steven Hauschka converts on all three tries in a 16-0 yawner in dreary Seattle. Adrian Petersen is held to 57 yards rushing as Christian Ponder is called upon to actually engineer a comeback, and the effort proves predictably futile.
Seattle’s $20 million-dollar backup Matt Flynn is perfect when handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, with zero fumbles on exchanges (overall numbers on the day for Flynn: 6-10, 64 yards, no INT). After the game, Jared Allen and Steve Hutchinson fly down to Mississippi to convince Brett Favre….
Super Bowl XLVII!!!!!
THE TWO MOST PUTRID UNIFORMS IN ANY LEAGUE SQUARE OFF IN THE BIG EASY!
IT’S SUPER BOWL 47!!!!!!!!!!!
With so many possible storylines to choose from, I’m going to leave this part to you:
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your scenario for a Bengals-Seahawks Super Bowl. A winner will be chosen and inserted into this very column.
In the meantime, embrace the horror!
Follow Joe Concha on Twitter @ConchSports