NFL Playoffs: Final Four Power Rankings—Steelers, Bears, Jets, Packers

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NFL Playoffs: Final Four Power Rankings—Steelers, Bears, Jets, Packers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There is something exciting about a contest involving multiple teams matching wits and physical prowess against one another, through preparation and exercise, where the last team standing wins. 

I’m not sure how to explain this sensation other than imploring you to try a Checkers fast-food restaurant all-American dog.  Of course, you must be hungrier than a bear on the first day of spring, and you have to order a Big Buford combo meal with large fries, two apple pies and a Diet Coke to wash it down, but you haven’t lived until you add that $0.99 charm of supposedly edible consistency that most reminds me of a jumbo pencil eraser, stuck to a piece of chewed gum permanently attached under a desk of your average fourth-grade classroom, in bread.

Once you have experienced this oft-overlooked delight of Americana, you can appreciate what it means to take a trip to the market, pick your meal for the hour, prepare it, cook it, eat it, clean your dish, relax on the couch and not have to wonder what form of road kill with mustard you are currently digesting.  This is exciting, I know.

This form of satisfaction can normally only be found in sports in a playoff format, or, in other word, in every meaningful sport’s postseason save college football (what is it? FBS, or some other BS? I’m referring to the college football that people watch, whatever it’s called).

These playoff formats conclude with the semifinal round, or the “final four,” followed by the championship game.  Whether you’re referring to college basketball’s Final Four or just to the final four participants left in the contest, you cannot help but be intrigued about the current matchups, and the probability of the four possible championship scenarios.

“Steelers-Bears. No, Steelers-Packers.”

“I think it’s gonna be Jets-Bears….but Jets-Packers is cool, too.”

In order to simplify the process and reduce the anxiety, I have installed the HKSports Final Four Power Ranking Series or the HKSFFPRS.

Each team will be ranked in relevant categories: those which may include position, coach and tangible intangibles.  Each category will be valued differently, and a final total will give the most likely winner.

 

QB, 15 Percent

1. Pittsburgh

2. Green Bay

3. New York

4. Chicago

The final four starting quarterbacks have combined for 1,429 yards, 13 TD and 1 INT with a 65 percent completion rate through six games.  One of them has two Super Bowl rings.

 

RB, 10 Percent

1. New York

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Ben Roethlisberger won it all after the '05 and '08 seasons

2. Pittsburgh

3. Chicago

4. Green Bay

Green Bay RB James Starks, a sixth-round pick from last year’s draft, has 19 more rushes this postseason (48) than he had the entire 2010 regular season (29).

 

WR/TE, 5 Percent

1. New York

2. Green Bay

3. Pittsburgh

4. Chicago

Santonio and Braylon led the league in cool first names and big play capability. 

 

OL, 15 Percent

1. New York

2. Green Bay

3. Chicago

4. Pittsburgh

“You go noowww. You been here four hour!” 

 

DL, 15 Percent

1. Pittsburgh

2. Chicago

3. New York

4. Green Bay

Ziggy Hood’s name inspires images of a street brawl at a reggae concert on a hot day. 

 

LB, 10 Percent

1. Pittsburgh

2. Chicago

3. New York

4. Green Bay

Any more Matthews boys out there that I have not heard about? 

Anyone want to tell James Harrison that he’s a dirty player and his cheap shots have tainted an otherwise tranquil and finesse sport, much in the same manner as a poorly timed flatulent taints a romantic date at a drive-in theatre, in a dark alley (Justin Case: would you want to tell James this opinion of yours in a dark alley? Not a drive-in theatre in a dark alley)? 

[Justin Case:  I do not believe that James Harrison is a dirty player, or that he has necessarily tainted anything, much less the National Football League.  I think James Harrison is a model football player.]

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

CB/S, 5 Percent

1. Pittsburgh

2. Green Bay

3. New York

4. Chicago

Tell me again: Why is Green Bay such a popular pick this weekend?

 

Coach, 5 Percent

1. Pittsburgh

2. Chicago

3. New York

4. Green Bay

Give me a coach who’s been there before.  Then give me a coach who acts like he’s already won the whole thing.

 

Hidden and/or Underrated Motivating Force (HUMF), 20 Percent

1. Chicago

2. New York

3. Pittsburgh

4. Green Bay

Bears are not expected to put up much of a game, at home.  Always underrated.

Rex Ryan has instilled an “us against the world” attitude.  Slightly hidden, until now, and dangerously underrated. 

What do you mean “slightly hidden, until now”?  Of course the Jets display the qualities consistent with that mantra.  It’s pretty obvious, actually. 

Not really.  Actually, or how I like to pronounce it, ak chewa lee, it’s not obvious at all. 

Every team is prepared to defend themselves against anyone or anything that is not part of the team.  That’s why it is a team.  This is by default.  These teams “respect” their opponents, but do not “fear” them. 

The Jets, however, do not “respect” their opponents, and they certainly do not “fear” them.

This is not to suggest that Nick Mangold would ever walk up to the Steelers punter and punch him in the face at the mall.  This suggestion merely implies that the Jets not only defend their “team” at all costs against any outsiders, but also honestly believe that no team can beat them.

No team should be on the same field with them; no team should attempt to even slow them down on their journey toward history; no team should exhibit any resistance in the form of putting on pads and a helmet, lining up across the field, game planning, competing, passing the ball, blocking, or running fast.

Because, to do that would mean that the team somehow believes that they, too, are deserving of the final prize, and not just the Jets.  This unconscious display of “disrespect,” in some circles, is enough to get you punched in the face.

“Us Against the World” is not just a description of team unity in adverse situations brought about by forces outside of “team.” It is the conscious effort of a group of teammates, coaches and staff to humiliate their opponent in every possible way, with class, while wondering out loud:  “The very thought of your attempting to derail our championship train, along with your complete disregard for my children during this time, when their daddy is attempting to put our name in the record books, leaves me with a growing empty feeling in my stomach which can only be fulfilled by violent physical confrontations where I hope to inflict great bodily damage and ultimately embarrass you in front of your loved ones.  I hate you.”

Only the Steelers come close to exuding this similar attitude of “Why did you show up to play? We’re going to mow the lawn with your teeth and eat breakfast with your women.”

After hearing nothing except how great the New England Patriots were before their collapse against the Jets, Pittsburgh players undoubtedly became a bit perturbed.  It’s Pittsburgh that last won the Super Bowl for the AFC.  It’s Pittsburgh who overcame four games without their starting quarterback en route to the second seed in the powerful AFC. 

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

And now Pittsburgh isn’t supposed to even beat the Ravens at home (I didn’t think they would, at least)?  There is a measurable degree of pleasure gained when a championship caliber team is overlooked then regains their aura of “the team to beat.” 

But, like bandwagon fans hoping to hop on before anyone notices, the Steelers do not want to be the favorite again—at least not among the “world.” 

No, the Steelers already considered themselves to be the favorite, whether anyone else did or not, and now that they’re one game away from playing for the chance to hoist a third Lombardi Trophy in six years, they are beginning to inherit some of the same traits the Jets have possessed all season. 

The mighty Steelers have a chip on their shoulder because they feel slighted?  Aren’t they favored to win this weekend? Yes.  And yes.  Hidden, and, of course, underrated.

Unfortunately for Green Bay, they have captured the imagination of the country.  It’s not “who’s gonna be in the Super Bowl?”  It’s “who are the Packers gonna play in the Super Bowl?” 

While these professionals aren’t supposed to let any outside distractions alter their supreme focus, this is not 2000 anymore.  We’re in 2011, where only the most insignificant of information does not make the news. 

Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers entering Atlanta’s home and throttling the Falcons certainly made the news.  The “news” is that the Packers not only have the defense to compete, but that they possess the most explosive offense remaining with perhaps the best QB in the league.  This perception is not lost on Packer players. 

I’ve always maintained that the only attribute worse than over confidence is false confidence—not to be confused with overly false confidence, which is not as bad as false over confidence.  False over confidence indirectly leads to occasional states of true outer insecurity and truer bouts of inner inferiority. 

Translated:  Green Bay may be happy enough just to be here.  Extremely underrated.

 

Results

Points based on scale- 4 points for (1) ranking to 1 point for (4) ranking.  After totaling the points, multiply it by the percentage. 

 

Pittsburgh 

5%

Coach (1), CB/S (1), WR/TE (3) =10 x 0.5 = 5

10%

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Coach Rex Ryan has his players by his side

LB (1), RB (2) =7 x 1 = 7

15%

QB (1), OL (4), DL (1) =9 x 1.5 = 13.5

Total = 25.5

 

 

Chicago

5%

Coach (2), CB/S (4), WR/TE (4) = 5 x 0.5 = 2.5

10%

LB (2), RB (3) = 5 x 1 = 5

15%

QB (4), OL (3), DL (2) = 6 x 1.5 = 9

Total = 16.5

 

Green Bay

5%

Coach (4), CB/S (2), WR/TE (2) = 7 x 0.5 = 3.5

10%

LB (4), RB (4) = 2 x 1 = 2

15%

QB (2), OL (2), DL (4) = 7 x 1.5 = 10.5

Total = 16

 

New York

5%

Coach (3), CB/S (3), WR/TE (1) = 8 x 0.5 = 4

10%

LB (3), RB (1) = 6 x 1 = 6

15%

QB (3) OL (1), DL (3) = 8 x 1.5 = 12

Total = 22

 

Let’s not forget to add the HUMF points.

 

HUMF points 20%

Chicago= (1) = 4 x 2 = 8

New York= (2) = 3 x 2 = 6

Pittsburgh= (3) =2 x 2 = 4

Green Bay= (4) = 1 x 2 = 2

Go ahead and do the math, but it’s looking like a Steelers-Bears Super Bowl, although the two best teams meet in the AFC championship game.

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