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This is a casual football fan's dream.

As sportswriters—heck, even just as fans of the game­—we all start the season by picking which two teams we think will get to the Super Bowl. Part of the decision is based on in-depth analysis, trends, matchups, coaching styles and good ol' fashioned football know-how. 

Part of the decision, to be honest, is usually based on which teams we want to cover. Let's face it, some teams just have a more interesting back story, and while that never—repeat never—makes one NFL team a more worthy champion than another, it does make the two weeks leading up to the title game that much more interesting. 

The Super Bowl has become such an enormous event that the actual playing of the game can become secondary to the buzz around it. 

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Eight teams are left with a chance to win the Super Bowl, and eight quarterbacks are charged this coming weekend with leading their teams one step closer to a crack at the title.

Is it that simple? Can the divisional round of the NFL playoffs be boiled down to the guys under center? Yes and no.

But mostly yes.

Certainly with all the schemes and reads and checks and packages and complexities of a modern football game, it's not as easy as a coach saying, "Hey Peyton/Tom/Philip/Andrew/Russell/Colin/Cam/Drew go out and win this game for us."

It's not that simple, but maybe it can be. This weekend—with eight quarterbacks who have been so critical to the success of their franchises this year—everything hinges on which ones will stand tall and which will falter under the playoff pressure. 

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Bob Costas, appearing Wednesday on the MLB Network, called it Hall of Fame purgatory. 

Maybe they can set aside a place in the vestibule of the Cooperstown shrine for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, unquestionably two of the greatest players ever to play baseball.

They could even put them on the floor, so people can wipe their feet on the game's recent history. Isn't that what the Baseball Writers Association of America is doing?

Neither Bonds nor Clemens will be making the trip to Cooperstown this summer—a hearty congratulations, by the way, to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, who all made the Hall in their first year on the ballot—leaving the BBWAA riding a collective high horse away from the time in the game's history they like to call The Steroid Era.

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Jameis Winston had a household nickname before he ever took a snap in college.

As the 2013 college football season rolled along and Florida State was outscoring every team it faced by an average of nearly 40 points, the legend of "Famous Jameis" grew and grew, nearly as big as Johnny Football; bigger, still, than RGIII.

The difference between Winston and the two most recent Heisman Trophy winners before him, however, is that Famous Jameis won a much more important trophy to end his season, both for his own legacy and his school.

"Jameis grew up unbelievably tonight," an emotional Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher told ESPN's Heather Cox after Florida State came from behind to beat Auburn, 34-31, in the BCS National Championship on Monday. "Tonight's probably the best football game he's ever played, because he struggled early, and that's what big-time players do. When the money is on the line, they can suck it up in the fourth quarter and do what they have to do."

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If I ran the Cincinnati Bengals, I'd probably fire Marvin Lewis after losing in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year, this time with a 27-10 home defeat to the San Diego Chargers.

When I mentioned that on Twitter, many Bengals fans—and more levelheaded football pundits—thought I was crazy. Lewis led Cincinnati on three consecutive trips to the playoffs from a division that routinely features Super Bowl champions…and the Browns.

Fire the guy? He should get a raise!

Or should he?

In today's NFL, is getting to the playoffs merely enough? Are we that hell-bent at celebrating parity that simply being in the top half of teams year after year warrants celebration and retention? 

The Bengals are one of just five teams in the NFL to make the playoffs each of the last three seasons. Three of the other four—New England, Green Bay and San Francisco—have made it to or won the previous three Super Bowls, while the fourth—Denver—won the AFC West three consecutive years, securing home-field advantage each of the last two. 

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Chris Kluwe is a pretty brave dude.

In addition to making a living kicking a football while trying to avoid 300-pound gladiators, the nine-year veteran punter has been an outspoken gay rights advocate despite being part of an NFL players' fraternity that hasn't exactly been open to that viewpoint. 

Kluwe penned an op-ed for Deadspin that ran on Thursday afternoon in which the former Minnesota Vikings punter called his former bosses "two cowards" and his position coach "a bigot." 

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While the NFL's 12 playoff teams gear up for the second season, the league's other 20 franchises begin the long offseason path of reconstruction and redemption. The year 2013 was unkind to many an NFL franchise, with other clubs seizing the opportunities given from the misfortune of heated rivals.

The year's most successful teams managed to stand strong in the face of adversity, winning in spite of what seemed like insurmountable challenges presented at the start of the season.

New England had one of the most bizarre and tumultuous offseasons in recent memory, but 2013 was another stellar year for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who are clearly still at the top of their (and the) game.

The Denver Broncos lost what felt like its entire offensive line, and all Peyton Manning did was destroy every single-season passing record he could. Green Bay, thanks to a lot of help from the failures of its division rivals, weathered the storm of losing Aaron Rodgers for far too long during the season to get back to the playoffs, inexplicably, again.

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Reseed the NFL playoffs.

This is an argument we make every year, and every year, those who make the argument are right: The NFL playoffs need to be reseeded—not just after each round, but before the start of the postseason tournament altogether.

If the playoffs are a true test to find the best team in football, then the league's owners owe it to their fans and everyone involved with the league to structure the playoffs properly, once and for all.

When I asked the league this week about plans to reseed, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told me, "This is a topic that the Competition Committee discusses every offseason and will review again this year. A number of clubs have expressed the importance of winning their division. This results in hosting a playoff game and reinforces the divisional rivalries during the regular season." 

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"We're from Philadelphia and we fight."

If Chip Kelly doesn't lead the Eagles to the playoffs, he can always fall back on an obviously lucrative T-shirt slogan career.

Kelly told reporters after Sunday's game that his team lines up and plays the opponent it is asked to play, no matter what. This Sunday it was the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears, who Kelly's Eagles waxed to the tune of 54-11 on Sunday Night Football

Next Sunday, the Eagles get NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys, in Dallas, also on Sunday Night Football. Kelly is ready for another fight.

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As 2013 comes to a close, well, it certainly was an odd year.

Every year has a tone. It seems like the most memorable stories of 2013 happened off the field, in board rooms and, sadly, court rooms. Even the biggest stories to take place during actual games had as much to do with players getting hurt, choking, being accused of cheating, biting or walking out as successes we've grown accustomed to remembering.

Just by the nature of the way our industry is constructed—where in most competitions there is a winner and a loser, and at the end of every campaign, someone is crowned a champion—there are positive moments, but were there that many among the most memorable of the year? A few.

With 2013 shoehorned between a year that boasted the Summer Olympics and Euro 2012 and one that will feature the Winter Olympics and World Cup 2014, the opportunity for positive stories worth remembering seems far slimmer by comparison. This year in sports had an empire-striking-back vibe. And no...I’m not suggesting that Alex Rodriguez is a modern-day Skywalker.